It’s that time of year again when in-house developers from Ubisoft set loose another Just Dance title. Now a four-year running franchise, like many annual titles the differences and improvements are often difficult to notice besides the updated content. Although Just Dance 2014 brings some variety to the franchise, it hasn’t really done enough to score straight 10’s from the judges.
Just Dance presents players with an opportunity to get their groove on to some of the best music releases of the last year, along with some timeless belters from previous generations. Stick-men appear in the bottom right on a slider to depict the required dance moves for that section of the song. There’s also dancers in the center of the screen that players can mimic instead. Most tracks can be played in a multiplayer format where each player will assume a different on-screen dancer and a color coordinated stick person.
The main difference with the 2014 instalment is the rather impressive roster of current tracks you’re able to shimmy down to. They range from modern day releases such as Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” to absolute classics like ABBA’s “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” It’s easy to say that this would open the game up to more age groups but to be honest, it doesn’t. You probably won’t find your gran rocking out to the Ghostbuster’s theme tune as it’ll probably play havoc with her hip replacement. Instead the mix of new and old makes playing Just Dance a little more bearable for the people around you in the living room.
I say the living room as you’re going to want some space to play the Wii format of this game, this isn’t a bedroom suitable shakedown. The little coloured stick people that reside in the bottom right of the screen will have you frantically slip and sliding all over the place and without adequate boogie-space somebody will end up with a new Wiimote addition to their face. Multiplayer only increases the likelihood of a Wii-based fatality, as space will swiftly become a premium. It would seem that Just Dance 2014 is best suited to larger areas and not bedrooms, where many people’s consoles reside.
Just Dance doesn’t even really look that good either. Much of the super-imposed backdrops possess an offensive sheen to them that makes long periods of dancing an unpleasant experience for eyes as well as calves. Thankfully the menu screens are blissfully basic and the no-mess navigation is a welcome simplicity, whilst animations that react to the beat of the backing tracks are a nice extra. The neon color palette though, whilst suiting the game itself, is another attack on my already bruised retinas. Some tracks, however, possess some awesome animations that help to pull things back. An especially memorable one was Rihanna’s “Where Have You Been,” which was shown on a lava back drop with flames bouncing to the beat.
You’d think with a game based on going all Louis Spence to famous tracks that the sound quality would be somewhat of a focus. Sadly that assumption was apparently misplaced. Many of the tracks are really poor quality, often sounding grainy. This is especially prevalent with the older tracks, which even sounded muffled in comparison to other songs. Where Just Dance 2014 is ideal for a party situation, I’d be honestly embarrassed to turn many of the songs up to 11 to avoid social alienation. It’s hard to tell what Ubisoft did to the sound, it’s probably something to do with compression but it’s a real disappointment. Thankfully it’s not the case with all the tracks, many of which sound and play great.
Speaking of play, the controls are a notably redeeming feature of Just Dance 2014. I reviewed this on the Wii incase you hadn’t guessed and it always surprises me how much the game registers when the Wiimote is nestled in my hand. Although deciphering the swift-moving stick people at the bottom of the screen proved a challenge, the ones I did work out registered pretty much every time. It even clocked when I was crouching, sliding and jumping which was impressive, especially for a simple infrared controller. I can imagine things being even smoother on the Xbox’s Kinect but for the time being I was more than content with my little Wii’s performance and the games power of deduction. Unfortunately the flip side of this positive feature meant that I couldn’t blame my abysmal scores on the game not registering my cumbersome jigs.
The replay value of Just Dance 2014 is astounding. Each song has multiple modes that vary in difficulty and reward players with coins that can be used to unlock more modes. Each track also has 5 stars up for grabs so you’ll need to be nailing those “Perfect” moves to grab them all. Even if you somehow managed to tango your way through to 100% completion, you’ll then be able to start work on downloading new tracks from the Just Dance Store.
I know I’ve somewhat slated this title for much of this review and to be fair all of the above is fully warranted, but this is still a really good game. The multiplayer mode, although a risky adventure, is solid fun and a real addition to any get together. Whilst the visuals and sound are somewhat flawed they don’t entirely detract from the experience of dancing to one of your favorite songs. However, four years is long enough to push your graphics department, come on Ubisoft.
This is, at its heart, a game to be played with friends, just like the dance mats at old arcades. I mean sure it can be played alone but you’ll be judged and avoided like someone who’s never played a Pokémon game. There’s no ignoring the flaws of Just Dance 2014, there’s also no real excuse for them existing but something about this game remains good fun regardless of its downfalls and heck, it has Daft Punk on the tracklist.
Just Dance 2014 is available now on current-generation consoles (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii and WiiU) and will be a launch title for Xbox One and PS4. Review copy supplied by Ubisoft and reviewed on Wii format.
Remember to share your own rating of the game in the user rating section at the top of this review!
Similar articles from around the web