I never expected myself to be a fan of the Just Dance series or find myself looking forward to the next version of the series. I first tried out Just Dance 4 on the Nintendo Wii U in January earlier this year as a way to stay in shape. I figured I might like a few of the songs, but I never figured I would truly enjoy the experience.
As Just Dance 2014, the latest entry in the series, came closer and closer to release, I again started to wonder if I would enjoy the game again. Would it bring me the same joy and fun, as well as workout intensity, of the previous game? These are some of the questions I wondered to myself over and over with the release imminent.
The Just Dance series is a rhythm-based music game where, instead of using a guitar or similar instrument, you dance to the songs and the game judges your actions. This is all done with a Wii remote in your right hand while you imitate the moves and postures of the on screen model. How well you do the different movements, as well as the timing, determines your score.
The songs represented in the game feature a unique range of styles and eras; the selection isn’t limited to just pop songs or ones released in the last five years. For example, while there are a few recent Lady Gaga and Katy Perry songs, you will also find older songs, like the Ghostbusters theme song and the popular German song “99 Luftballons.” Just Dance 2014 offers something for everyone.
I felt that the previous game’s movement sensors were lacking; there were issues detecting and registering very fast and complex moves, as well as slow and simple moves. Either would likely result in you getting a miss mark for that portion of the song. When I first started playing Just Dance 2014, I noticed right away vast improvements. Movements, both slow and fast, were no problem and I “perfected” them immediately. This is not to say the game is now easy; it still requires some skill to five-star songs. Overall, these great improvements are welcome additions to the series.
One of the main reasons I bought this game was for an additional way to workout and shed some excess weight, as I previously mentioned. I enjoyed about the series was its Just Sweat mode that keeps track of your calories burned and time. This year, the mode is back but slightly different: it no longer features different themes, but instead allows you to directly pick 10-, 20-, and 40-minute workouts with you picking the songs you want to play. Feel like playing a wide variety of songs? That’s fine. Want to play the exact same song 10 times in a row? Sure, no problem. You also have the additional benefit of playing downloaded songs as well.
This control of what songs you will work out to is a great addition over the previous method. In fact, there is a Free Mode allowing you to just play any song you wish. I spend most of my time in the game using the Free Mode and playing songs that are currently on my mind as I sweat away the calories. In fact, certain songs now have an additional set designed just for Sweat Mode. These sweat versions of songs, such as Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl” or the Ghostbusters song, have you moving to get your blood really pumping.
You are rewarded in a number of points every time you complete a song. These points can be used to unlock additional songs and dance styles; some songs have multiple styles, such as a Just Sweat and On Stage Mode. That last one will have you performing the song as if you and two backup dancers are actually live on stage at a concert. The Gamepad Party Mode is back, which allows you to change up the current dancers’ style to try to challenge your friends. The game makes other uses of the Gamepad this year, such as using the microphone to allow anyone to sing along and earn points.
New to the series is the Just Dance TV. If you point your Gamepad at yourself while dancing, you can have it record and send it for other Just Dancers to view and enjoy. You yourself can also see songs people have submitted as well. Finally, one of the biggest addition to the series is the interactive Online mode. The way the online dances are done are quite clever and fun: instead of being one-on-one with a random stranger, it actually becomes everyone vs. each other at once. Most songs are divided into teams to make it more competitive with the winning team earning points and bragging rights.
Anyone looking at trying the Just Dance games are likely not too concerned with how the game looks. In fact, the basic silhouette shape of the singer, models, and backgrounds have all retained similar simple styles throughout the series. This is a good thing. It keeps your focus and helps you learn the moves quickly. I did notice that the backgrounds are more dynamic compared to its predecessor. Some songs even contain nice references to singers of previous games.
If you are looking for a fun way to spend your time, as well as a very nice way to workout and keep in shape, I greatly recommend Just Dance 2014 for the Nintendo Wii U. The improvements to the series are greatly appreciated and the added Online and improved Just Sweat modes are very welcomed. If you can see yourself enjoying at least some of the songs in the game, I am very sure you will end enjoying the game.
Low Score: 8 / 10
- Limited songs and limited plans for additional songs via DLC
High Score: 9.5 / 10
- Move controls are greatly improved
- Great for working out
- Interactive online mode