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Review | Just Dance 2014

by on November 5, 2013
 

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Your bon bon. Your money maker. Your groove thing. What your momma gave you. Whatever you call it, Just Dance 2014 would like you to get up and kindly shake it, please and thank you.

It won’t win you any ballroom dancing contest, but Ubisoft’s latest version of the popular dance franchise will ensure a little sweat, a lot of fun, and new ways to play for those who live for the applause applause applause.

The fifth iteration in the Just Dance series, Just Dance 2014 dumps the version number in favor of the year. The move may seem aesthetic at first, but it’s in fact quite substantial – with that move, Ubisoft let the gamersphere know that they were in it for the long haul, but focused on the now. And now ain’t all that bad.

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Everyone knows the premise at this point: pick a song, follow the on-screen choreography, and boogie-oogie-oogie like you just can’t boogie no more. The question isn’t how to play, but what to play with: the game will be available on all seventh-generation and eighth-generation consoles (as launch titles for both PS4 and Xbox One). Wii and Wii U versions still utilize the Wii Remote, while PlayStation 3 and 4 will both require PS Move. Xbox 360 and Xbox One will require the Kinect motion sensor, which gives a truer sense of play with the game, as scoring doesn’t depend of the position of the Move Wand or the Wii Remote, but your actual body. If you were to strip away everything else, the easy pick would be to purchase the game for a Microsoft system.

But things can’t be that easy, now can they? Along with the review copy provided to GotGame for the Wii U, I was also able to play with some friends on the Xbox 360. (Liquor may have been involved.) While gameplay may have leaned toward the 360, both versions had fun options and modes specific to that console that really refreshed the Just Dance franchise. For example, the Wii U version (and Xbox One, upon launch) features Party Master mode, a new version of Puppet Master from earlier games. The mode allows a non-dancer to take control of the dance in real-time via the Wii U Gamepad or Xbox Smartglass. That player will choose to allow the basic song choreography to continue, or to throw in a splash of new style, including disco, high-energy pop, or slick street style. The mode will also offer new songs, so the entire vibe of the song can be changed with just one touch. Our test run of Party Mode started with the disco anthem “I Will Survive” and somehow mutated itself into PSY’s “Gentleman.” I don’t remember how; I was busy on the dance floor shaking my tail feather.

I didn’t even know I had a tail feather.

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The catalog of songs is decidedly now. Most of them still receive radio airplay, and 31 of the original 50 games were released in 2012 or later, including Lady Gaga’s “Applause,” Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” and Katy Perry’s just-released hit “Roar.” Other tracks still on the air include hits from Nicki Minaj, Pitbull, Rihanna, Jessie J, and Ariana Grande.

In related news, I was informed by my friend’s nine-year-old daughter that Ariana Grande is not, in fact, Mariah Carey. So, additional hazard to be warned of: this game may make you feel instantly old.

If that happens, don’t worry. Though Just Dance 2014 may have a heavier lean toward current pop, it still has retro favorites to enjoy, throwing in disco goodness with ABBA’s “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)” and New Wave awesomeness such as Nena’s “99 Luftballons” and George Michael’s “Careless Whisper.” Movies and TV music are celebrated as well, with routines set to “Flashdance… What a Feeling,” “Ghostbusters,” and “Prince Ali” from Disney’s Aladdin, complete with dancers costumed to the titular street rat, his princess love Jasmine, the evil Jafar, and everyone’s favorite genie… uh… the Genie.

One of the best additions in this year’s iteration of Just Dance can be found in the Wii U version and the Microsoft consoles in the new Karaoke Mode. This allows for a player or players to sing along to the song being played for bonus mojo. Don’t worry about messing up the lyrics, as you can’t be penalized for errors. It’s a great addition for when you have more players than dance slots, since all but the Xbox One can accommodate only four dancers, and the no-penalty rule allows for non-dancers to be part of the game no matter what level of intoxication they’re at.

The name change to the year hints not-so-subtly that Ubisoft intends to make Just Dance an annual release, which lends some concern about the party title. Gamers complain that titles like Madden and Call of Duty come out with yearly iterations that differ very little from one another; it’s justifiable to wonder if Just Dance could head down the same route, if they haven’t started to already. Fortunately, pop music constantly changes, so by nature of the song bank, Ubisoft can deflect a bit of the concern, but one wonders if gameplay fails to evolve, why would we continually purchase annual titles? Rock Band survived for quite a while on DLC alone; will Ubisoft adopt that stance or continually re-issue the same game with a new year?

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Fortunately, that question can be staved off for a bit of time. Until then, let’s enjoy Just Dance 2014 now. It’s goofy, silly fun for all ages, and an instant party-starter. Pop the game in, stretch out, and proceed to shake the area of your body commonly known as your “booty.”

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Just Dance 2014

  • Ubisoft, 2014
  • Dance/party
  • Available now for Wii, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii U
  • Available as launch titles for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
  • Rated E for Everyone.
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