The video games industry is currently inundated with a plethora of fitness games promising to give you abs like Schwarzenegger - if you're willing to pay the price. But how many of these titles actually perform? While the Just Dance franchise might be categorised into the silly party genre, Just Dance 4 in fact provides a fun alternative to a fitness and workout experience.
There's a good balance of contemporary rock and pop records as well as classic cheese (Rick Astley, we’re looking at you) in the Just Dance 4 roster, with something to suit everyone. If you happen to be have a couple of friends around, there are also a few tracks designed purely for multiplayer, such as The Rocky Horror Show classic The Time Warp and The Time of My Life of Dirty Dancing fame.
The choreography in Just Dance 4 is a real mixed bag – during some slower tracks the moves can feel underwhelming and dull, while at other points the choreography can be a little too energetic for most modest-sized living rooms, with songs such as Europe’s The Final Countdown instructing you to roll chaotically on the floor. Even some club tunes like Alexandra Stan’s Mr Saxobeat are uninspiring, and involve more awkward, sober swaying than actual dancing. While the pictograms prompting the next move are mostly excellent, when tackling Skrillex’s Rock N’ Roll for the first time players can feel hopelessly lost, as the instructions can be tricky to follow. Yet - like with all of the Just Dance entries - after one or two tries, the moves feel almost natural.
Sadly, the main problem that lets down the whole series is bad motion sensitivity. While this is more the fault of motion gaming technology rather than the software itself, slower moves are often not registered by the Wii remote, causing the scoring system to feel almost random at times. An energetic song such as Ricky Martin’s Livin’ La Vida Loca is the safest bet, as these upbeat tracks seem to register hand movements more fluidly, and let’s face it – they’re much more fun to play.
New features to the series include the addition of a Battle Mode, which allows players to fight head to head in an almighty dance-off, lasting six exhausting rounds. There are also unlockable alternate choreographies for certain songs as well as an expanded Just Sweat mode. This mode allows players to receive an intense dance workout based on different musical styles, such as Aerobics in Space 80s fitness routines, Sweat Around the World with Latin Dance, Electro Body Combat with cardio and fighting moves to Electro beats and a Cheerleaders Boot Camp – an extreme training session backed with Punk Rock music (think more along the lines of P!nk than The Sex Pistols).
Just Sweat mode features an on-screen calorie counter to let you know if you’re waggling your remote fast enough and also offers different intensity levels of workout, from a 10 minute session to a full-on 45 sweaty minutes. With a mixture of warm-ups, fitness sections, dance fillers and cool-downs, the Just Sweat mode is both a fun and challenging experience, putting the efforts of Zumba Fitness 2 to shame.
While Just Dance 4 may be just as entertaining as the last 3 entries to the series, the question still remains: has it improved greatly enough on the efforts of Just Dance 3 to warrant a sequel, or could it just be simply reproduced as new song DLC? The new modes just about justify the update, but Just Dance 4 remains a great-looking and fun game regardless, with only a few minor motion sensitivity and choreography troubles which hinder the all-round excellent dancing and fitness experience.