By now, Just Dance is a staple in the game industry, from the annual shuffle of yesteryear’s greatest hits to the downright wacky routines of Ubisoft’s creative minds. The endless slew of fun is still at the very core of its foundation but so too does the shaving of underbelly flaps. The 2021 version of the fab and colourful dance battle also lets you jump right into the groove with its new quick play mode while also delivering a more statistical approach for its hardcore enthusiasts.
For better or worse, Just Dance 2021 handles pretty much what you’d expect from its previous entries. There’s not a lot of differences to its UI other than the brand new shade of paint and song selections but to longtime fans of the franchise, playing through alone also gives you the statistics on how terrible or good you are at the game. This feature while still in its infancy for how basic it looks and feel is still a step up from not having one at all. Like really, why just now?
My main gripe here is that while I do love knowing how much worse I am in the game as time goes on, it really doesn’t give you a more constructive way on how and when it happened. For example, a graph-based statistical approach would’ve made more sense here which could also show at what point did you break a streak or completely went under. Still, it’s a work-in-progress that I hope is something that doesn’t sink under the radar for a decade or so.
But before anything else, I also want to address that this is a game that relies on hardware that isn’t by default included in a brand new package of a console unless you own a Nintendo Switch. Whether you’re a newcomer to the series wanting to sweat your pants off to the new beat of Dua Lipa’s Don’t Start Now or just cracking head on to the Paca Dance for the first time, you won’t be able to “Just Dance” without prior setups. For starters, there are multiple ways to start playing which is great! What’s not so great is you’ll either need a PS Camera if you want a hands free approach or install the Just Dance Controller app for your mobile phone.
And let me tell you that having an expensive phone at the sweaty palm of your hands for more than an hour is not the most satisfying experience. Even worse here is if you’re not the one actually playing but your child that may or may not be old enough to take care of that new iPhone 12 Pro Max. But for former Wii gamers this might not even be a debatable argument but let me tell you any way of my other problem with using a mobile phone as a controller. This might just be a “me” problem so hear me out, the thing is, using the app to sync to my console that is plugged in with an Ethernet cable has never really worked out for me despite countless tinkering for the most part. Although when connected through Wi-Fi it pairs with no problems whatsoever… well maybe a couple disconnects every once in a while but nothing major.
Still, this is a major deal-breaker for me as someone who needs to tinker with their router settings to make certain games work better. One good reason is that by default, I’d be unable to connect through online lobbies or join most quests without having to manually set my IP address for my console which is a major issue for being a devoted fan of Monster Hunter World: Iceborne which is notorious for conflicts with other internet service providers. So if this can apply to you as well, just be aware that you might be in the market for a couple extra bucks more for an extra hardware. But again, there is the issue of space. While both does require some space to play, the PS Camera does need a specific distance while an app can let you play wherever as long as you can see your TV. So that’s that.
So with that out of the way, you’ll either be dancing away out of the extra fees that can come with it or grooving to the slick moves of its new tracks which a lot of them do sound and look good. From fan-favourites like Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga’s Rain on Me to the groovy pompadour of Eminem’s Without Me, the slick tracks of 2021’s Just Dance is easily one of my favourites ever since I started the journey two years ago. There’s a huge variety of songs with different themed coaches and choreography that it’s almost impossible to not have a track that you’d like. Though that does of course come with the downside of not being able to like everything or at least right away.
Toño Rosario’s Kulikitaka, for example, is one of the many weird songs that doesn’t really hook you into the game but when it does, it just makes you want to laugh at why it did. Having to play the preview of the song next to the kids is an instant death wish to not dance to it fully which I happen to almost experience. Long story short, weird songs = best songs.
What’s also kind of new here is the World Dance Floor with its tweaked settings. This time around dancers will be able to play around with people of similar ranks. So for the competitive young spirits, it makes the game easier to put out your skills to the test with others similarly ranked players.
In a nutshell, there’s not a lot of innovation with every iteration of the Just Dance formula. But what works, works well enough to not be a huge issue. From the impressive choreography of the easy to the extremely harder songs which is pretty much the centre piece of the entire game to the colourful and entrancing designs of everything in between. There’s the kind of well-balanced mechanics to put it all together even if its minor quirks still does require a bit of work. Still, with Just Dance Unlimited giving you access through hundreds of songs in one go, the only reason you’d want a new version of the same old game is with its extra new songs slapped in one new download size.
Just Dance 2021 is available on the following Platforms Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Series S and Google Stadia.
This review is based on the PS4 version of the game.
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