Just Dance 2015 Reviews
Ubisoft’s Just Dance is back for its latest annual holiday release, and despite there being a host of previous releases for the franchise on both the Xbox 360 and Xbox One, my previous experience with the games have been limited to the odd drunken dance at a friend’s house, and a 30 minute spell on Just Dance 2014 with my daughter last Christmas.
Taking on the review, I was keen to see if Just Dance 2015 could convince me that the dancing genre is something I have been missing out on in the past, and hopefully provide some much needed use to my Xbox One’s Kinect aside from the commonly used voice commands and automatic sign in.
After creating your in-game persona, Just Dance 2015’s streamlined menu makes it easy for you to jump straight into the action by presenting you with little more than a list of the game’s 45 songs to choose from. This makes song choice especially simple, but it does mean that some of the game’s other features are harder to find initially than they need to be.
The game’s song selection is eclectic to say the least, with a range of tracks from different decades and genres included. It’s a mix that the majority of people wouldn't want to listen to every day on their iPod, but it does mean that the game can cater to a wide audience.
The majority of the songs available are relatively recent pop songs such as “Birthday” by Katy Perry, “Diamonds” by Rhianna, and “The Fox (What Does The Fox Say)” by Ylvis, but the most fun comes when dancing to some of the game’s stranger song choices such as “Speedy Gonzalez” by Los Pimientos Locos and my personal favourite, Dancing Bros.’ “Tetris”.
The dance routines throughout are varied and interesting, but with no indication of difficulty when making a song choice, it does make the learning curve for new comers very steep in places. With practice, earning the maximum five stars for each song is possible, but the game could benefit from the addition of a practice mode like the ones found in Rock Band and Guitar Hero games that allow you to slow down difficult sections. Instead players are forced to learn moves at the full pace of the song.
Besides the regular dance routine featured on each, the addition of alternate routines and mash-ups allow for lots of replayability by doubling the number of dances you can master. Some are straight forward whilst others add some hilarious routines that will get everyone in the room interested.
Just as dancing in real life is more fun with others, Just Dance 2015 makes very good use of the Xbox One’s Kinect by allowing you to dance with up to five other people locally. Whilst I didn't have the chance to try the game with the maximum six players, I did find that with four players, the Kinect tracked all the movements accurately, even in low light and when stood very closely together. It’s a testament to both the developers and Microsoft just how well it works.
If you don’t have other people around you to play with, the new Challenger game mode allows you to compete against friends and other Just Dance players. Similar to the way a ghost car works in racing games, Just Dance will add other gamers' previous best performances into your game for you to compete against.
You can also take to the World Dance Floor which is an endless setlist of the game’s songs where dancers around the world can play together. After each song, a vote takes place for the next one, with challenges included to entice everyone to perform their best.
Ubisoft have taken great effort in trying to make Just Dance 2015 a social experience by allowing you to share recorded footage of your dance moves to the Just Dance community or to your own social media. Basic editing features allow you to add some humour to your recordings by making over-sized heads, or by making the video appear as if it was recorded underwater.
Taking the above even further, the new Community Remix feature allows Ubisoft to place you directly in the game for other people to dance to rather than the in-game models. Of course if you’re not brave enough to put yourself in front of the world, you don’t have to, but it’s a nice feature that helps push forward the idea of community and online play.
For those of you without a Kinect, you can still play along with Just Dance 2015 using the “Just Dance 2015 Motion Controller” app which is available for Android and iOS. It’s simple to set up and works via your local wifi connection to link to your console. Once connected it works similar to the way the Playstation and Wii owners have used the Move and Wii Remote in the past, by tracking your hand position in relation to the on screen dancers.
This works very well, and for those of you less gifted at following the full-body on screen actions, this will allow you to concentrate on just one portion of the routine and most likely obtain a higher score.
One of the more popular useful modes from previous iterations in the franchise, Just Sweat has been renamed to simply Playlist. This mode allows you to create a playlist of songs with the aim of burning calories with a timer and calorie counter included to see how well you are doing.
Just Dance 2015’s achievement list encourages you to try the game's different game modes, with a large portion easy to unlock in a relatively short period of time with very little effort.
A dancing game achievement list wouldn't be complete without a number of achievements related to your skill in the game, and of course Just Dance 2015 has a few, but with enough patience and practice the game’s routines appear as though they can be mastered.
Possibly the biggest challenge for completionists will come from Funky Four, which requires you to obtain five stars with four players, and Everybody Dance Now, which requires you to complete a song with 5 other people.
Just Dance 2015 gives fans of the franchise more of what they love by sticking to the tried and trusted gameplay that has seen it emerge as the leader in the dancing rhythm game genre.
For newcomers, there is a steep learning curve at times, and the game could benefit by including difficulty indicators and a practice mode, but with perseverance you’ll quickly find yourself improving every time you play.
The new game modes add a new level of social features to the game, making it feel like you’ll never have to dance alone, and the varied track listing chosen from different genres and decades means there will be a song for just about everyone to dance to.
The Xbox One’s Kinect and the ability to use a smart phone for motion tracking allow up to six people to play together locally, making this fun, colourful and light-hearted title perfect for parties, and one which I'll be keeping in my games collection for the foreseeable future.
The reviewer spent approximately 15 hours dancing through all of Just Dance 2015's, various game modes, earning 26 of the games 55 achievements. The Xbox One review copy was supplied by the developer.
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