Game Review: Just Dance 4
OverviewGenre: Dance, Fitness
Cons:Everything else is just pretty ugly
Just Dance may be the name of the series, but Just Watch would be an equally apt title for the Wii U version. In the busy Christmas market for gaming, this one is probably best left on the side.
Interaction is emphatically not the name of the long-awaited now-tetralogical Just Dance franchise’s game. Truth be told, you’d get more response out of feeding bread to a duck or a duck to a killer whale than you would in a month of playing Just Dance 4. Much like the Wii has relied on for several of its ‘exercisetainment’ games, you tie your trusty controller to your right hand and smack it against your head to the beat of ‘Call Me Maybe’ for your own amusement. Even without battering your own skull in, the experience is pretty painful.
If you ever needed to write a dissertation on style over substance, you could fill up a thesis just by staring at the screen long enough, watching the sparklers and fireworks try to make you feel like you’re doing something. In terms of presentation Just Dance 4 is slicker than a greased-up James Cameron-directed blockbuster on an oil-drenched pigskin helter-skelter. Right from the off, you’re forced to focus on what’s happening in front of you rather than what you’re doing, whether or not you’re doing anything at all.
The first black mark against Just Dance 4 is that it requires the Wii controller for you to be able to interact. The fact that a launch game for a brand new console requires you to go out and get the controller for the previous system is borderline unforgivable. Also, I say interact rather than play because I wasn’t initially aware that you didn’t need it. I selected a song (Europe’s The Final Countdown, in case you were wondering), let it play out and still got a good rating despite not interacting with the controller, console or game in any way. Thankfully, in terms of presentation, the game is flawless and everything is remarkably smooth and glittery. What the world would give for an Elder Scrolls game that was as quick and easy to navigate and load.
It becomes apparent very quickly that Just Dance 4 isn’t so much about playing a game as it is gathering a few friends around and dancing like an idiot, before coming to blows over who gets to be Harry when you get to What Makes You Beautiful. The vast majority of the tracks are done by the authentic artists, with miscellaneous other big hits being supplied by in-house covers acts for various unspecified reasons. There’s a mildly amusing ‘battle mode’, but you’ll just end up taking a friend’s eye out. The actual moves being performed by the dancers on screen are so fast and professional you have no hope of learning them yourself. The screen prompts are about as informative as a vomit-covered essay on in-vitro fertilisation written in Malayalam. You dance and dance well, or you die. If Mad Max was sellotaped to the back of Holly Valance, they couldn’t survive this fabulous, confusing onslaught.
For all this criticism, it feels slightly unfair to compare JD4 with any other game out there. It’s not really a game at all, rather an excuse to let loose and have fun with a few friends, but there are so many better ways of doing that, even when confined to the video game universe. Nintendoland does an excellent job of mad, scrambling local multiplayer. If you wanted to dance, Dance Central on the Xbox is a much (much!) better alternative. Essentially, this is an expensive NOW! album accompanied by over-saturated music videos from people who will forever be better dancers than you. Your time is much better feeding ducks to Free Willy.