Just Dance is back. Leave your inhibitions at the door, clear the room of furniture and prepare to sweat like a beast. With the series having amassed total sales in excess of 40m copies, Ubisoft is clearly doing something right. This year’s update adds a few bells and whistles but retains much of the charm and accessibility that makes these titles such good clean fun.
The 47-strong track listing is refreshed with the usual eclectic mix of old and new, with more available to download should you wish. From Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive to Robbie Williams’ Candy, or ABBA’s Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! to Gentleman from PSY, there’s literally something for everyone. There’s even a random Aladdin song – which is a little weird.
First up, the menu screen is a marked improvement on last year’s effort. The way Kinect switches between game modes and selects dances is much better, having dispensed with the Just Dance 4 “grab and pull” mechanic and replacing it with a much more effective hover option to select from a long list of tracks and game modes on the scrolling carousel. If you don’t fancy navigating with Kinect, there’s always the controller – which makes things a lot easier.
Once you’ve picked your track, you’re in familiar territory: bright backgrounds and nicely animated (and appropriately costumed) dancers fill the screen, along with a gauge that shows how successful you are at replicating their moves. At the bottom of the screen, a scrolling display shows your next few moves. Match them adequately and you get points. Get more points than your opponents and you win. Simple. The points earned let you unlock new dances and challenges through the ingame shop, extending the game’s replayability factor.
As before, you and up to three friends can hook up in the comfort of your own living room and have a go at classic dance offs or Battle Modes, Extreme dances and mash ups – each player designated a colourful character onscreen to imitate.
Thankfully, Just Dance has never taken itself too seriously and doesn’t demand the same kind of dedication as the likes of Dance Central to learn the moves perfectly. Sadly though, there’s no dedicated practice mode; Just Dance just kind of throws you into the action and if you mess up, so be it. There are, of course, the usual Kinect issues and a lot of the time it doesn’t seem to matter whether your arm or leg is swung in the right direction as you’re praised for pulling off a perfect move anyway.
Still, the fact that the accuracy is slightly debatable isn’t a dealbreaker as you’ll no doubt be having too much of a good time to be distracted by little things like that. And besides, it makes the game far more enjoyable for all generations – children, in particular, would be put off if it were too unforgiving. After each dance, the Autodance feature allows you to watch and edit a video of your exertions, which fortunately nearly always makes you look better than you actually were.
And, as ever, you can also sit back and watch other hot and sweaty people around the globe strutting their funky stuff, if you desire. The major change this year though, is that you don’t just have to watch others, you can actually dance against them…
A most welcome addition is the new World Dance Floor, which finally sees the introduction of an online multiplayer mode. If you don’t have friends in the same room, you can now catch up with them online and challenge them to a dance off – and if you haven’t got any friends (!), why not pit your wits against strangers from around the globe. Players join a virtual crew to compete – boys can take on girls or different crews can fight it out – which really adds to the fun.
It’s a pretty comprehensive package and there are loads of other play options if you have the energy: take centre stage and have your friends perform as your backing dancers or sing along to the lyrics displayed at the bottom of the screen.
Then, for the more masochistic gamers, there’s the Just Sweat exercise mode, which – exactly as the name suggests – is where you dance to burn off calories. Play a series of songs back to back as part of a program spanning 10-40 minutes – guaranteed to make you sweat/pass out! Alternatively, you can switch the calorie counter on to monitor you whenever you play.
This year’s Just Dance is brilliant fun and even the most self-conscious dancers – myself included – will quickly get into the groove.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.