Friday 28 October 2016

Just Dance 2016 review – The dance-off goes global

Published 17/11/2015 | 16:00

Just Dance 2016 - Yes, there is a panda dancer!
Just Dance 2016 - Yes, there is a panda dancer!

Tis the season for family fun and with many games moving further towards online only multiplayer, living room fun fests such as Just Dance 2016 are becoming a rarer gem.

8/10; Ubisoft; PS4, PS3, XOne, X360, Wii U and Wii

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Just Dance games have always been about getting out what you put in. Fully committing to the often complicated dance routines usually generates a building wave of hilarity, but more cynical players will soon realise that maximum points can usually be obtained with a more half-hearted approach.

Playing previous games solo felt half as fun without an audience. Sure there were calories to burn and points to earn, but it was all too easy to phone-it-in. Ubisoft have attempted to mend lonely hearts by including a World Video Challenge mode. Players can record a video of their performance and send it out into the world as a challenge. This is surprisingly more fun than it sounds, as there’s no telling how off-the-wall your competitor might be. There’s also no room for anything but your best, after all, the world is your stage.

More new modes cater to the solo gamer. Showtime Mode allows you to create music videos to broadcast to the world or just look at other people and judge. Dance Quest mode sets up a series of three dance challenges, unlocking more as you proceed, giving a sense of progress beyond just high scores. There are also playlist and sweat modes, allowing you to set up a workout if calorie burn is your goal.

The true greatness of Just Dance has always been in a party setting. Initially, while reviewing the game alone, I failed to fully ‘get it’. I enrolled my sister and mother, both dance teachers to varying degrees, and suddenly it all made sense. Not big gamers, they just tried to copy the dance moves, saved from the knowledge that the game was only tracking their hand movements. The result: Hilarity. I will never be allowed share the videos, but the memories will make me chuckle. I was forced to give a lend of my console, just in case a rematch was callled, and the resounding opinion was "this game is amazing!"

My criticism of karaoke title “Now That’s What I Call Sing” focused on its poor song choice and narrow age appeal. Just Dance 2016 proves that I wasn’t being too harsh. By including a few classics, Just Dance has kept its appeal broad. The pop songs are selected for their suitability rather than chart position. There are very few songs in the pack that weren’t fun to dance to.

Just Dance 2016 - The phone app allows for up to six players to join in.
Just Dance 2016 - The phone app allows for up to six players to join in.

Read more: Now That’s What I Call Sing! review – Deep as a Justin Bieber lyric

The ability to use a smartphone as a controller further broadens the user base. The game is no longer restricted to peripherals you may never use for another game. An app, found in both the App Store and Play Store, tracks a player’s movement and allows for onscreen control without having to swap between devices. Allowing up to 6 players to compete on the one screen, this is a nice touch. This works surprisingly well, but be careful not to launch your fancy new iPhone through your TV screen.


Just Dance Unlimited is yet another entry in the growing trend of gaming content for the Spotify/Netflix subscription generation. Boasting 150 songs to choose from, Just Dance Unlimited streams the songs in real time, extending the life of the game but at a cost. $6.99 a month puts it in the same price range as Netflix, while $39.99 for a year is nearly the price of a whole new title.

Unlimited strikes me as an option initially for only the most die-hard fans, because there is plenty of content on the disc. Perhaps a few months down the road it may make sense, but it would have been far nicer if Ubisoft went the “TV” route of Guitar Hero Live.

Read more: Guitar Hero Live review - Three is the magic number

Just dance 2016 is an incredibly fun party game and additions to the latest version give added life to solo play. While it’s not a great reinvention like the latest Guitar Hero title, there are enough changes here to keep fans of the series happy. A number of features, such as the smartphone controllers, are only available on the latest generation of consoles, so the incentive to buy may not be there for older console owners.

Just Dance 2016 is available now on PS4, PS3, XOne, X360, Wii U and Wii.

(Playstation 4 version played. Provided by publisher.)

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