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Game Review

When the Just Dance series first wiggled its video game derriere and shook its colorful mop of movement-tracking hair to a cadre of hip tunes back in 2009, some may have thought this dance-along thing would be a short-lived craze. Crazy, right? We're up to six games now and it doesn't look like the top-selling brand of sashay play will be hanging up its boogie boots anytime soon.

Simply watch the colorful, silhouette-like dancing figures onscreen and do your best to copy their moves as the tunes play on. That was Just Dance then, and it's still Just Dance now. Whether you're waving a Wii-mote, a PlayStation Move controller, or being closely watched by a Kinect system or PS4 camera, the game picks up on your moves and gives you a "grade"—a cheery ranking of "OK" to "Perfect," depending on how accurate your moves are. (Don't worry, I've seen a video of a lady's cat earning an OK!)

One fun new addition to this 2015 edition is something called Community Remix. It's a mode that lets you watch and dance along with a montage of real-life Just Dance players rather than those sprite-like characters. (Kids and adults from all across the country submit their dance videos and the Just Dance team screens out the weird stuff, remixing it all for your enjoyment.)

Sensual-ish pelvic thrusts and a couple of wispy-ish costumes get in the way of all the fresh fun a few times. And raunchy language in some songs, while studiously bleeped or blanked out, can still add a few shadows. As for the rest of the lyrics, well ...

5 Seconds of Summer's " She Looks so Perfect," as an example, makes its sexy boy-meets-girl situation clear when the guy tells of the gal "standing there in my American Apparel underwear." And other tunes such as Becky G's "Built for This" and the Jessie J/Ariana Grande/Nicki Minaj trio effort " Bang Bang" make an even bigger deal out of sexual conquests.

Katy Perry's peppy " Birthday" winks at getting a guy into his "birthday suit" while she breaks out her "big balloons." Rihanna's " Diamonds" talks of mixing "moonshine and molly," Iggy Azalea's "Black Widow" rap-struts its way through love and lust, and even the classic "Holding Out for a Hero" (by Bonnie Tyler) is all about a heated one-night stand.

What that means, then, is that discerning dancers will only be really interested in a limited number of the 40-plus tunes available here. Fortunately the game helps out with that. If Mom and Dad want to keep the kids bouncing to The Sunlight Shakers' rendition of "Love Is All" but well clear of Miley Cyrus' " 4X4," then they can create custom playlists, grouping all the good stuff in one place.

That won't keep the kids from trying to find out if, say, Pharrell Williams' other music is as uniformly great as his ridiculously infectious tune " Happy." (It's not.) But it will let them chill to the likes of a not-so-Frozen take on " Let It Go" or jazz things up as a geometrical puzzle piece with "Tetris" or wave their paws while wondering what "The Fox" says. Even those hoping to work up a great talent-show duet of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" will find a few of the right notes here.

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Wii U, Wii, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360




October 21, 2014

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Bob Hoose

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