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Game Review

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Or, in this case: If your winning formula ain't limping, break out the goofy costumes and fix yourself up another great big dance party.

Ubisoft's Just Dance 2014 is pretty much exactly what fans of the series have come to expect. It's the same bouncy, colorful and absurdly daffy "follow me" dance choreography layered over a new batch of pop tunes. But for those who may have just returned from a 10-year trip to Lower Slobbovia, where video games are as rare as a talking Salomey, let me give you a quick breakdance, er, breakdown of how this title works: You simply fire up your Xbox 360 Kinect, Wii U, Wii or PS3 Move, watch the onscreen neon-colored, humorously garbed dancers, and try to mirror their moves as the chosen song plays out. Did you miss a few shake-rattle-and-rolls on the last number? No worries. Just give it another spin.

No matter the system, the game then generously rewards you with points and "Way to go!" accolades as you get closer and closer to the movements onscreen. Yes, there are choreographed numbers that offer more challenge than others. But trust me, dancing pineapples and vacuum-waving ghostbusters aren't all that tough to keep up with, even for folks like me.

That's really the charm and appeal of this game. This is probably one of the most party-friendly party games you're ever gonna find. Wiggle, giggle, jump and laugh. And it's as much fun to watch family members shakin' the night away as it is to actually get up there and try it yourself.

The only new addition worth talking about this time round is something called World Dance Floor. It sounds pretty auspicious, but it's actually a simple real-time online dance-off. It gives those really competitive dance-hounds in your group (you know, the ones who wear the special shoes) a chance to compete against a rolling global dance card. Why keep creaming grandma and the grandkids over and over when you can gain bragging rights against that cool-cat crew from the East Coast? (Me? I'll stick with grandma and the kids.)

Of course, now that I've called out all my holloes, it's only fair to throw out a few phooeys too. Amidst all the silly giant panda suits, watermelon slices and Gundam robot outfits, there are a few sexy, short-skirted, formfitting ensembles too. The simplistic artistic style keeps things from getting really blush-worthy, but when you add bare dancer skin to slinky, hip-thrusting moves, there are a few dances you'll see here that won't make Mom happy when little sis starts imitating them.

This is probably the most International set of Just Dance tunes I've heard so far―with lyrics showing up in Spanish, Italian, Korean, etc. But it's the English words that can be a little bothersome. There are songs here from Lady Gaga (" Just Dance"), Psy ("Gentlemen"), Flo Rida ("Troublemaker"), Justin Bieber ("#thatPower"), Nicki Minaj (" Starships") and more. And while profanities are excised, the songs' contexts can still be racy.

Minaj's "Pound the Alarm," for instance, is one of several tracks that talk about guzzling booze while sweating away on the dance floor and looking for a quick hookup ("I just want you tonight, night/Baby we won't do it for life"). And Rihanna's " Where Have You Been" is even more direct, with the sultry singer suggesting that she's "Looking for someone/Someone who can please me/Love me all night long."

Katy Perry's 2008 hit " I Kissed a Girl" takes the steaminess in a same-sex direction. Robin Thicke's " Blurred Lines" has been called a "date rape-y" ode, and has been banned from some university quads. And even if the more heavily censored tunes (such as Ke$ha's "C'Mon") sound clean enough in dance mode, a young fan deciding to download the full piece from iTunes will get an earful for sure.

There are, thankfully, plenty of danceable songs here that don't push in any of those directions. Current and innocent bubblegum pop tunes, hits from the '70s and '80s, an old Disney musical number ("Prince Ali") and even classic TV themes such as "Love Boat" can keep everyone smiling and grooving without any gagging. It just takes a discerning eye and quick trigger finger to cleanly weave your way across the crowded dance floor.

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Wii U, Wii, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360




October 8, 2013

On Video

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Bob Hoose

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