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Only one rhythm game franchise has made to the next generation of consoles out of so many that made the genre popular again last generation. I didn’t think anyone expected Ubisoft’s Just Dance franchise to that one when it first began a few years ago compared to other franchises such as Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and Dance Central. Each year, Ubisoft has been getting better of making Just Dance the “Now That’s What I Call Music” of dancing games in terms of song selection and being able to release a new one annually. Just Dance 2014 is arguably their best one yet and feature-filled even on next-gen consoles such as the Xbox One.
Besides dancing on songs normally, numerous modes underwent changes or are added for the first time in the series. While mash-ups, extreme versions for a handful of songs, and party master remain identical to last year’s game, Just Sweat mode is the one that was significantly changed. Dancing through songs consecutively is still the same, but there no more themed fitness-like routines in between songs. Instead, the songs themselves have “Sweat” versions, which replace the fitness-like routines from the last game. This is a change I didn’t mind and for the better since it gives the songs a bit more variety other than what players are used to in past games.
Just Dance 4 was the first game in the series I reviewed and it was on the Wii U. The Wiimote controls aren’t the ideal way to play the game even though the series was first started on the Wii. With the Xbox One, this is the first dancing game I played with the Kinect and the difference is night and day from needing a controller to hold. Keep in mind, this is the new Kinect that came with the Xbox One and it being able to read my dancing motions felt better giving me better scores than I would get on the Wii/Wii U. Sure, you can BS some of the moves even with Kinect, but the game does still a pretty good job if you’re executing the moves right. As one of the Kinect-only games gameplay wise on the Xbox One launch (the menus can be navigated by the controller too), I do say that Just Dance 2014 is worth getting for that reason alone especially for multiplayer that doesn’t require actual controllers.
Other than changes to certain modes, the shop and unlock system has been significantly changed from Just Dance 4. Instead of one big level up system with a random drawing of an extra routine to unlock once you level up, mojo is just gained by doing well in songs and logging on the World Dance Floor, which I’ll mention more about in a bit. There are also opportunities for double the mojo, the currency in the game, as well to be used to buy mash-ups, extreme versions of certain songs, sweat versions, on stage versions, which are basically concert-like routines, and other alternate versions. Even DLC can be bought from the Just Dance shop, which will likely lead to the Xbox Store to buy/download. Other than new songs, extra versions of songs are also purchasable, which is something I’m not a fan of and prefer them actually in the game instead of paying two more bucks.
One of the big additions in Just Dance 2014 is the World Dance Floor, which is basically the franchise’s online debut. Players can finally dance with others online in a rotation of songs and compete for high scores. This mode also other ways to get players involved such as teams to side with, voting on the next song, and a “happy hour” mechanic for double experience. It is also hop in and hop out multiplayer, so you can join in while a song is playing. It is about time online play is included in a Just Dance game after being around a few years now and Ubisoft’s implementation of it is impressive.
Online play was not the only thing making its debut to Just Dance as social network integration is also in this 2014 iteration. JDTV, Just Dance TV in a nutshell is a hub where players can make user videos of themselves dancing to the songs and share them to the rest of the Just Dance community, Twitter, and Facebook. Players can follow others Twitter style in the community that release new videos to the hub regularly. Instagram-like filter effects can also be added to these user made videos that are in quick intervals rather than the whole song. Despite having Twitter and Facebook integration, I do think it is time that more games like this implement Instagram and Vine integration in the future.
Even being on all the current-gen consoles, Just Dance 2014 being on a next-gen console is not that big of a difference graphically. The game still does look fine on the Xbox One, but don’t expect a big leap like the other launch games. The various backgrounds that accompany the songs keep getting better and better every year as there are some favorites players would like dancing to just by the background alone.
Of course one of the major selling points of these types of games are the song selections and if you like top 40 songs that were released in the past year, then get ready to hear them again and again in this latest Just Dance. 2013 hit songs like Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” and even Psy’s “Gentleman” made it to this game. Even obscure songs you don’t expect to make it like the Ghostbusters theme song (picture of it above) and one of the songs from Disney’s Aladdin are also here. It took a few years, but Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance” is finally in a Just Dance game, which you wonder why it took so long for a song with the same title. It is a good mix of songs spanning various genres and countries since Just Dance is in a way still a worldwide phenomenon. The DLC out now also have popular choices to choose from such as “Can’t Hold Us” by Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis, “Wake Me Up” by Avicii, and “Roar” by Katy Perry, which is still free as of this review.
Just Dance 2014 on the Xbox One definitely filled in a necessary void for the console’s launch. It is also the best and most feature-filled Just Dance game yet with much needed improvements, changes to certain modes, and new additions such as online play and social network integration. As one of the early Kinect-only games on the system, it is worth it on that alone if you’re still into the new Kinect’s potential for games and needing a multiplayer game that doesn’t require actual controllers. After dealing with the Wii U’s inaccurate controls in Just Dance 4, finally playing a dancing game with the Kinect game is like night and day. Ubisoft will still make Just Dance games on an annual basis, but Just Dance 2014 is a great and progressive step forward for the franchise.