Well, it’s been a fun ride, but with the recent release of Just Dance 2014 for Playstation 3, we’ve probably seen the last fitness game that’ll ever be coming out for the Playstation 3.
Sony, of course, has been turning all its attention to the PS4, and game developers in general have pretty much followed suit. And even before this, the number of games made exclusive for the Playstation Move seems to have been declining. Sony has announced an improved camera and continued support of the Move controllers for the new PS4, but time will tell if motion gaming catches on with the new system.
Just Dance has been such a hit for Ubisoft that they’ve decided to release it for every platform: the Wii, the Wii U, the Xbox 360, the Xbox One, the PS3, and the PS4. They’ve done a pretty remarkable job of porting it to every platform, so the experience is virtually the same across every one.
On the PS3 version, you start out by calibrating your Move controllers, simply by pointing it at the Playstation Eye camera and pressing the Move button, and your controller will glow blue. If a second player is playing, you can set that controller up the same way (it’ll glow red). It did take me a bit of time to figure out how to go back to 1 player, as the system would constantly force you to keep calibrating the second controller even if you tried to turn it off. After a while I realized all you have to do is put the second controller aside and eventually the system will realize no one’s using it and shut it off.
When you start the game, the opening menu is simple; in the center of the screen is a recommended song you can start dancing to right away. You can also scroll continuously to the right to select specific songs. One nice thing about Just Dance 2014 is that none of the songs themselves are locked–every song is playable from the beginning. Instead, what’s locked are different variations of the choreography that’s available on certain songs. Here are all the different variations:
- Classic – The standard, default choreography, all of which are unlocked from the beginning.
- On Stage – Multiple dancers interacting with each other in a “dance performance”, which are a lot of fun not only for the dancers but also for onlookers.
- Extreme – These are more advanced dance routines, not for beginners.
- Battle – This is a mode where you compete against another player in a “Street Fighter” like battle–the better you dance, the more you’ll increase your life line and decrease your opponent’s.
- Mash-Up – Here, different dance moves (and the original dancers) from other songs and from past versions of Just Dance are pieced together to form a unique dance.
- Sweat – Songs are choreographed with maximum exercise, fitness, and aerobic activity in mind.
- Sweat Mash-Up – A combination of Mash-Up and Sweat modes, these are 5 points to unlock.
- Others – Several songs have very unique choreography. Gwen Stefani’s Rich Girl has a “Chair” dance. Far East Movement’s Turn up the Love has something called “Sumo”. And Nicki Minaj’s “Starships” lets you dance to the Charleston. Each of these are 50 points to unlock.
Dancer Card – You can click the upper right-hand corner to create a “dancer card”. This will allow you to provide your nickname, an avatar (you choose from a set of cute cartoon faces all blinking at you), your country, your gender, and your age. The choices are 0-9, 10-14, 15-19, 20-29, 30-39, and 40+. Once you set up your dancer card, when you click on it you’ll see at-a-glance your style (how accurate you are), your kCals burned in Sweat Mode, your favorite songs, your average star rating, and your online level.
The Dancing: The dancing itself works pretty much the same as all other Just Dance games. Each song’s choreography is designed for 1-4 different players. If you’re playing with 2 or more players, each player will use his or her Move controller to select a character to follow, and can also choose his or her dancer card so that statistics will be properly tallied.
Each player then holds the Move controller in his or her right hand and follows the on-screen dancer’s moves as if looking in a mirror. What’s nice about playing on a PS3 is that the motion controls are much more precise than on a Wii, but unlike on an Xbox 360 you don’t need to all squeeze into a certain area. When you hit a special move correctly, the Move controller will vibrate in your hands to let you know.
The animation on screen, as usual, is usually done with tongue firmly planted in cheek. For example, here’s a zombie dancing to Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”.
I’ve played this game on the Xbox 360 and the Wii U, and for some reason my scores on the PS3 version were much higher than on those two systems; even my first time through a song I’d easily get 4 or 5 stars. This means that either the motion controls are much more forgiving on this version or that my dancing had improved to the point where I’m infallible. I’ll let you guess which one is the truth 🙂
Other options on the main menu include the following:
Just Sweat – This mode allows you to play several songs in a row for 10, 20, or 40 minute programs. You can also turn on “free mode”, which turns on a calorie counter that tracks you calories for any song in the game.
Shop – As you play the game, you’ll earn points, which are tallied by a yellow “M” throughout the game. You can use these points to “purchase” unlockable content for the game. These include:
- Alternate Choreography. Here’s where you can unlock “On Stage” , “Extreme”, “Sweat” and “Battle Mode” choreography for songs.
- Mash-Ups & Co. Here, you can download Mash-Ups and Sweat Mash-Ups of songs.
- New Songs. Unfortunately you can’t use your points to unlock new songs–you’ll need real money for that. Ubisoft cleverly weaved a list of purchasable songs into this menu so you’ll always be reminded of it when you’re unlocking content. They even offer a free song, Katy Perry’s Roar, for you to learn the download process (when you select a song you’re sent to the Playstation Store to complete your purchase). When you buy a song, you’ll get avatars thrown in for free.
The World Dance Floor option will show up if you’re signed in. A number will show how many dancers are currently online.
This is an interesting online mode where you can literally dance with players from around the world, earn points along the way, and even make friends. The good news is that you’re not personally identifiable, other than the name on your dancer card. There’s a countdown timer to “Happy Hour”, when you can earn extra points you can use to unlock more stuff.
There are a number of activities on the Dance Floor. You can participate in dance offs against other players, you can dance to the same song with everyone in the group and see who’s the best, and you can vote on which song to dance to next. It’s a lot of fun, and it really adds a new dimension to dancing.
Getting online was pretty easy–when it worked. I tried multiple times and kept getting the message “The Ubisoft server is unavailable at this time. Please try again later”. But finally, I was able to get through, just by having signed in already with my Playstation Account. Here’s what a typical World Dance Floor session looks like.
Finally, there’s another online feature called JDTV that consists of videos that other players around the world have uploaded. While this is a cute feature, it’s one I got bored of pretty quickly, as all the dances are strange, stylized “mash ups” of dances the the system does called “Autodance mode”. I would much rather see real and complete performances than these bizarre edits.
But overall, I’m impressed yet again with this latest version of Just Dance. Every time I think the franchise is about the jump the shark, they make enough improvements to impress me yet again. The song list is a great mix of contemporary songs and oldies, there’s enough variation in choreography and collectible items to keep from getting bored, and the new points system to collect and “buy” items to unlock is much simpler to understand than in previous versions.
The highlight, of course, is the new online features that let you compete and play with others around the world. it just adds a new level knowing that others around the globe are playing along with you.
Here’s a complete song list that lists artist, song name, number of dancers, and difficulty level of the classic choreography. They’ve done away with separate rating for difficulty and exertion, and have simplified it to easy, medium, and hard.
- One Direction – Kiss You – 4 – Easy
- Lady Gaga – Just Dance – 1 – Hard
- George Michael – Careless Whisper – 2 – Hard
- Kesha – C’mon – 2 – Medium
- David Guetta ft SIA – She Wolf (Falling to Pieces) – 1 – Medium
- The Girly Team – Flashdance-What a Feeling – 1 – Hard
- Disney’s Aladdin – Prince Ali – 4 – Medium
- Daft Punk ft. Pharrel Williams – Get Lucky – 2 – Medium
- Jessie J ft. Big Sean – Wild – 1 – Hard
- PSY – Gentleman – 1 – Medium
- Robin Thicke ft. Pharrel Williams – Blurred Lines – 2 – Easy
- Ray Parker Jr. – Ghostbusters – 4 – Medium
- Gloria Gaynor- I Will Survive – 1 – Easy
- Will.i.am ft. Justin Biener #thatPOWER – 4 – Hard
- Daddy Yankee – Limbo – 2 – Hard
- Ariana Grande ft. Mac Miller – The Way – 2 – Easy
- Nicki Minaj – Pound the Alarm – 4 – Medium
- Frankie Bostello – Love Boat – 1 – Medium
- Olly Mira ft. Flo Rida – Troublemaker – 1 – Easy
- Lady Gaga -Applause – 1 – Medium
- Mick Jackson- Blame it on the Boogie – 4 – Easy
- Imposs ft. Konshens- Feel So Right – 1 – Hard
- Mungo Jerry- In the Summertime – 4 – Easy
- Chris Brown – Fine China – 1 – Medium
- Louis Prima – Just a Gigolo – 2 – Medium
- Rihanna – Where Have You Been – 1 – Hard
- Ricky Martin – Maria – 1 – Hard
- Abba – Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight) – 1 – Easy
- Dancing Bros – Moskau – 2 – Hard
- Pitbull ft. Christina Aguilera – Feel This Moment – 1 – Easy
- Wisin and Handel ft. Jennifer Lopez – Follow the Leader -1 – Hard
- Village People – YMCA – 4 – Easy
- Far East Movement ft. Cover Drive – Turn Up the Love – 2 – Hard
- Bob Marley – Could You Be Loved – 2 – Easy
- Nicki Minaj – Starships – 1 – Hard
- Ruts hen Planeten – 99 Luftballons – 2 – Easy
- Robbie Williams – Candy- 2 – Medium
- Katy Perry – I Kissed a Girl – 1 – Medium
- Bog Bog Orkestar – Isidora – 1 – Medium
- Gwen Stefani ft. Eve- Rich Girl – 1 – Easy
- Duck Sauce – It’s You – 1 – Medium
- The Sunlight Shakers – Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In – 2 – Easy
- Sammie – Misunderstood – 1 – Medium
- Sunlight Express – Nitro Bot – 2 – Medium
- Jason Derulo – The Other Side – 1 – Hard
- Ivete Sangalo – Dancando – 1 – Medium
- (Free download) Katy Perry- Roar
Overall, if you’re using the PS3 for fitness, I’d definitely recommend Just Dance 2014. The fact that it’s stood the test of time vs. other games like Everybody Dance and Singstar Dance really shows the quality and sheer simple enjoyment this game provides.