Review: Just Dance 4
Title: Just Dance 4
Platform: Wii, Xbox 360, Wii U, PS3 (reviewed on Xbox 360 – Kinect is required)
Tagline: Dance game that is harder than one would expect
Family Friendly: Click here for more information.
Verdict: Wait for a Sale
When I saw Just Dance 4 for the first time at E3 2012, it was a magical moment, with one Flo Rida coming out on the stage to his song Good Feeling, and a lot of backup dancers gyrating to the song. It looked like a game that I could get into, and seeing as I had enjoyed the Dance Central franchise, I wanted to see how the Just Dance games matched up to the standard it had set with the Kinect on Xbox 360. I mean, I knew it was a huge hit on the Wii and I felt it would be an easy game to get into and party with my little to no rhythm body. This was a tactical misjudgment on my part.
Just Dance 4 does present itself with a solid set list of 50 tracks, each of which can be played with up to three other friends. Players line up into one of four spots on the dance floor and you each perform a set of dance moves. As you move through the set list, things do get progressively more difficult with the songs.
Unlike its competition, Just Dance 4 does not seem to factor in a difficulty level, or at least an option that I could find for difficulty, and it was not an issue at first, as I got through the first couple of songs without too much trouble, but as I moved up through the set list, I was presented with dance moves that I just could not do, either due to poor representation on the cue cards or because the moves were just downright difficult. Sometimes, Kinect was very generous in telling me I was doing a good job, but more often than not, I found myself frantically flailing to get the moves correct and was presented with the Ok rating for the move.
While some of the complicated moves set me off a bit on Just Dance 4, I did like the inclusion of the Dance Quests for each song. As you work through each song, you are presented with six quests to complete. Some are simple like getting a three or five star rating, but other have some fun with the song in question, like singing out “I got a good feeling” each time in said Flo Rida song, “Good Feeling”. Or hitting certain dance moves perfectly, like the phone call move in “Call Me Maybe”. Some of the challenging, they do offer a reason to go back and continue to play songs, to unlock the challenges.
I was also surprised at the social integration built into Just Dance 4 with the Just Dance TV option, where you can upload clips of you dancing to a community portal where other players can rate your performance. Many will know I am a huge fan of Singstar and their community features, and Just Dance 4 works in a similar manner. I really did not know about this community backbone in Just Dance 4 and I am surprised that it is not advertised more on the box, as community features are a strong selling point for games nowadays.
Of course, Just Dance 4 uses the Kinect for all of its booty shaking goodness, and it does seem to pick up movement fairly well, the actual navigation interface left me in fits of rage. When you start up Just Dance 4, you movements are represented by a virtual hand. Selections are highlighted when you are hovering over a selection, and then you push forward to “select” the option in question with your big virtual hand. It sounds easy enough in practice, but more often than not, I looked like the drunken guy that could not touch his finger to his nose in a sobriety test. Most of the time, I watched as my virtual hand clicked everywhere but on the selection. It was frustrating to have a continue button and spending 30 seconds of time just trying to click that button. If you are going to be a Kinect only title, you need to kill it on navigation, and Just Dance 4 frustrated me for some time before I got the nuisance of the menus and control.
Ubisoft has put together a good title with Just Dance 4 and it has a great set list to back up title. However, I am surprised with the complication of the dance moves and the perplexing navigation choices that were made in development, because I always looked at the franchise as an easy to jump into title. Some of that may have come from its lineage as a Wii title, but here on the Kinect, it has a lot of fun ideas locked behind some obtuse design and mechanics. I liked what Just Dance 4 was doing, but just did not like the steps needed to get to the fun.
- Dance Quests have fun with the songs
- Solid set list
- Great community features
- Dance moves can be difficult
- Navigation is frustrating
- Feels a bit bare bones
Just Dance 4 is completely suitable for all ages. I would note that younger kids, or those that are rhythmically challenged (like myself) will find some difficulty with some of the harder dance moves, but there is no content that would not be safe for all ages.