Just Dance 3 Kinect hands-on preview

From a dancer’s perspective, the Just Dance series has always been the Jersey Shore of dancing games: wildly popular, flashy and easy to understand, but very little in the way of substance. Restricted by the Wii’s single-input method of motion control, you could generally flail around the room and still pass songs. However, the series is attempting to beef up its previously simple iterations and hit the Kinect with a few new features exclusive to the 360.

Above: Walk like an Egyptian dressed like a technicolor mummy

One of these allows you to insert your own moves into existing choreography. At predetermined instances in each song, you can choreograph an 8-count of your choosing. The silhouette of your movements is recorded and then played back during another part of the song as part of the routine. While the idea adds an interesting layer to an otherwise predictable routine, we found that the timing felt off when this custom choreography was added. Even if our moves were originally in sync to the music, a slightly off-set playback meant we ended up repeating the moves off-beat. (Just Create, an extension of this feature, will allow players to create entire routines, save them, and then upload them to share with other players.)

Above: We’re going to take a wild guess and say this is for Sugar Hill Gang’s “Apache (Jump On It)”

Up to four players can be tracked simultaneously in the Kinect version and certain songs take advantage of that with solo-vs-group choreography. During a four-person playthrough of Earth Wind & Fire’s “Boogie Wonderland” (a cover of the song, unfortunately) each of us were charged with solo moves front and center while the remaining three performed backup dancer steps behind.

Above: Likelyhood you’ll run into each other while playing with four people? High

Complexity has never been a big selling point with the Just Dance series, and this game is no exception. Whereas other dance games will include more involved choreography on higher settings, difficulty in this game boils down to how much you want the censor to track you. Full body tracking is the highest difficulty and can be dropped down by setting it to just upper body at the easiest setting. So yes, even though you’re no longer strapped a Wiimote to play, you can still flail around to a song and potentially do well.

Just Dance 3 on the Kinect does introduce some interesting new features, but the gameplay is essentially the same as its former incarnations. Judging by the huge following the series already has, however, we doubt this formula will turn off its plentiful fans. The game will hit shelves October 3.

Sep 14, 2011

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