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Just Dance 2016 Review

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“…maintains its reputation as a top party game. “

As party games go, few have had quite as much staying power over the years as Just Dance. The ever popular dancing game is back for 2016 with new songs and new features for the budding living room artiste to enjoy. Whilst I would not immediately rank myself amongst the MLG dancers who inevitably master each year’s instalment of the game, I do appreciate the fun factor that it offers. That’s why I was genuinely excited to see what form one of the biggest party games out there had to offer this time round.

As much as I enjoy playing Just Dance, it has always lacked one thing for me; true variety. Understandably the game has to be targeted at the mass market of music fans, which it all fairness it does very well year upon year. This year is no exception to that pattern, but the game still falls short of offering something for everyone. Personally I am a big fan of rock and metal, and whilst much of this style of music may not lend itself to the living room dancing experience, there is certainly potential for some classics to make the cut. As easy as it is to enjoy the game no matter what kind of music you enjoy, there is still room for expanding the target audience further.

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The song selection is only one side of the coin of course, the other being the gameplay experience. It is important to consider the fact that this varies greatly depending on the console on which you are playing Just Dance, due to the Wii, PS4 and Xbox One each having different input devices. In one move towards reducing this difficulty, the game has maintained and improved its mobile device input feature. This was ridiculed upon its initial inclusion, but since that previous instalment has passed us by the method has become more refined. It still doesn’t feel particularly natural, and does maintain the risk of throwing your expensive iPhone across the room by accident, but it is good to see that this feature is heading in the right direction and with the right intentions in mind.

The review copy which I played for the game was on the Xbox One, which is arguably the most natural console on which to play the game. Kinect 2.0 might have been criticised and largely ignored by Xbox gamers, but it lends itself perfectly to Just Dance. The developers have recognised this and perfected the input as well, allowing up to six players to dance along with the game in one room, without the need for the mobile device inputs or any form of controller. Naturally you still need to have an unfathomable amount of space in the room to achieve the full six player experience, but the potential is there. The Kinect input is very impressive in its responsiveness and accuracy, and it even allows you to see yourself on the screen. There is nothing quite like looking at hilarious screenshots of you and your pals after a sweaty dancing session. You can also dance with friends’ silhouettes in future performances.

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In this edition of Just Dance, the game modes you can play have been reorganised and rebranded in an attempt to offer greater variety. The classic just dance experience is now called Dance Party. Here you choose your first song and then vote on the next one to dance to. You can choose to play with or against your friends too, allowing you to shape your experience. If you are playing alone or want a different kind of challenge, the Dance Quests mode pits you against the computer, so you can see if you can dance better than your Xbox can to a set of random tracks. There is one new mode in the game however called Showtime, which cashes in on the popular trend of lip-syncing. Here you can lip sync to your favourite tracks, recording your performance and adding after effects before sending it to friends. Each mode implies variety in gameplay, which makes the game feel like you have more options. Not much of this is new to Just Dance however, aside from the Showtime mode, but it does improve upon the way these modes used to play.

Aside from its various game modes which do keep the game interesting, there is one new feature in Just Dance 2016 which has been pushed heavily and really stands out. As is becoming ever more common in games of this kind, you can now sign up to an additional subscription service in-game called Just Dance Unlimited which offers access to songs from previous titles in the series, as well as some exclusive tracks for subscribers as well. On the up side of things, this allows you to enjoy a greater variety of dances as you play and utilise the new gameplay systems with older tracks to better enjoy them. On the other hand, it does seem like a bit of a con that you should have to pay again for access to previous content, whilst other, similar games offer this as a free import. The exclusive tracks on the other hand are a good offering and will certainly appeal to the more avid Just Dance fan.

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Just Dance 2016 doesn’t do a huge amount differently to its predecessors, but it does improve upon previous gameplay capabilities. The new tracklist is as strong as ever, but does still lack a bit of genre variety in its content. For those seeking a greater quantity of songs to enjoy, the new subscription system might well appeal as well. The inclusion of old tracks on this service however feels like a feature which would have been better placed and far more appealing as a free import option. Nevertheless, the game is as fun as ever and maintains its reputation as a top party game. This is certainly a worthwhile addition to the Just Dance fan’s collection.

The Good:

  • A strong tracklist, as ever.
  • Utilises Kinect perfectly, with improved gameplay input.
  • Play with up to six players with no need for controllers using Kinect.
  • Improvements to the mobile device input option for additional dancers.
  • Just Dance Unlimited subscription offers new, exclusive tracks to play.
  • Showtime mode offers a fun aside from dancing for the lip sync enthusiast.
  • Still as fun a party game as it has ever been.

The Bad:

  • A lack of variety in terms of the genres of songs on offer.
  • Mobile device gameplay still doesn’t feel entirely natural or safe for phones.
  • Just Dance Unlimited charges you to play songs from old games.
  • The game does little new, despite improvements upon older features.

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Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.

Rating:
7/10
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Nathan is a passionate gamer and writer, who has been producing content for Invision since his first year of University over five years ago. He enjoys the opportunity to make personal connections with the developers and publishers that he works with, and is often praised for the high-quality of work that he produces. Now working as a Senior Staff Writer for Invision, Nathan's continues to grow as a writer and administrator for the site, and continues to connect with the wider gaming industry.

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