If dance games have taught me anything, it’s that I will remain a terrible dancer until the end of time — but at least I’ll have fun doing it.
Just Dance 4 is the latest installment in Ubisoft’s popular dance franchise and the publisher celebrated the game’s Toronto launch in its typical splashy fashion, complete with flashing lights, pumping beats, and an energetic army of non-stop dancers.
Say what you will about dance games — people love them. The numbers speak for themselves: Just Dance 3 was one of the top three best-selling games of 2011, according to The NPD Group, only behind Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and ahead of Skyrim.
“You don’t see that very often,” commented Ubisoft Canada PR manager Jay Acevedo, calling the franchise a “cultural phenomenon.”
Phenomenon or not, the latest installment in Ubisoft’s growing dance franchise is a fun addition to any player’s dance game collection. It also arguably has the most varied song selection to date. If you aren’t the least bit curious about how this game will make you move to Europe’s iconic anthem “The Final Countdown,” then it probably isn’t for you. (I was personally hoping for some embellished Gob Bluth arm flourishes, but the game presents you with luchadors in a fighting ring instead. I’ll take it.)
Sure, it was slightly disheartening to see that the game’s dancers can move better than I ever will (damn you, advancing mo-cap technology). But the only other living being who’d notice would be nosy neighbours watching me flail about through the windows. And my dog, but I’m guessing canines don’t count.
Self-deprecation aside, Just Dance 4 is truly the karaoke of dance games, full of guilty pleasures new and old and on-screen lyrics to boot. Even if dirty dancing to “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” — yes, really — isn’t the same without a partner to be your Patrick Swayze or Jennifer Grey, the game’s new features will keep your body moving.
Acevedo notes the introduction of a battle mode with changing choreography and music, and an expanded Just Sweat mode complete with a new calorie counter. The latter is particularly helpful for those still feeling guilty after their recent Canadian Thanksgiving dinners. Which was last weekend, but who’s counting? (JD4 is, sorry.)
The game clearly targets a younger demographic, as Acevedo reiterated, but does a good job of skewing older. JD4 gives you “Moves Like Jagger” while They Might Be Giants’ catchy “Istanbul” cover stirs up memories from a classic Tiny Toons episode.
You have to give Ubisoft credit for keeping up with pop music trends. Not that you need to hear “Call Me Maybe” for the bajillionth time — much less need to see the choreographed dance — but there’s something appealingly eclectic about hearing Carly Rae Jepsen alongside a little “Jailhouse Rock.”
The game isn’t without its flaws. I had some issues with precise Kinect tracking while trying to select and scroll through songs. But those frustrations are minor and short-lived once the music starts. When you see the over-the-top choreography for Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” — yes, really really — you’ll understand the simultaneous joy and hilarity of Rick Rolling yourself.
“I want it. So bad. I already put my request into the brand managers and said, ‘This needs to happen,’” admitted Acevedo without hesitation, adding that while there are indeed DLC plans for Just Dance 4, they have yet to be announced. “If not through DLC, it’ll probably be in the next game.”
Just what I need — another song to remind me how completely uncoordinated I am, no matter how many dance games I play. Bring it on.
Just Dance 4 is now available in North America for the Wii, Xbox 360 (with Kinect) and PlayStation 3 (with the Move), and will be available for the Wii U next month.