Just Dance 2014
Still the most fun dance game on any platform, marred just a bit on the Xbox 360 by motion control accuracy that may err on the overly strict side, overly zealous attempts to get you to record and share videos, and lack of PlayFit support.
A few years ago, we chronicled the battle of the Dance Games. In one corner was Dance Central, which made excellent use of the Kinect to track precise dance movements, and which placed a heavy emphasis on technical precision in dancing. In the other corner was Just Dance, which focused more on sheer fun, especially with a group of people. Over the years, both franchises have gained their respective group of fans.
I’m guessing that there isn’t a Dance Central 4 simply because with the impending release of the Xbox One, Microsoft is closing development of new games on the Xbox 360. On the other hand, Ubisoft is developing Just Dance 2014 on a record number of platforms: the Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Playstation 3, and Playstation 4.
When you start out the game,the game first detects if you have saved data from previous versions and rewards you with free avatars if you do. Not that avatars are worth all that much, but it was a nice gesture.
The opening menu is simple as always, and the Kinect motion detection is well done as far as navigating the menus goes. In the center of the opening screen you can immediately choose a recommended song to start dancing to right away, or scroll to the right to select individual songs.
In the upper right-hand corner you’ll see a yellow icon with an “M” in it, which correspond to points you’ll earn throughout the game. The points system is much easier to understand now than in the last version of Just Dance. They essentially serve as currency that you can use to unlock different things in the game (mostly different choreography).
Speaking of choreography, there are basically up to five different types for any given song:
- Classic – The standard, default choreography, all of which are unlocked from the beginning.
- On Stage – Multiple dancers interacting with each other in a “dance performance”, which are a lot of fun not only for the dancers but also for onlookers.
- Extreme – These are more advanced dance routines, not for beginners.
- Battle – This is a mode where you compete against another player in a “Street Fighter” like battle–the better you dance, the more you’ll increase your life line and decrease your opponent’s.
- Mash-Up – Here, different dance moves (and the original dancers) from other songs and from past versions of Just Dance are pieced together to form a unique dance. Throughout the year you’ll be able to unlock one for free each month.
- Sweat – Songs are choreographed with maximum exercise, fitness, and aerobic activity in mind.
- Sweat Mash-Up – A combination of Mash-Up and Sweat modes, these are 5 points to unlock.
The Kinect will recognize you and load up your Xbox profile. Underneath the profile you’ll be able to select an avatar for the game (basically a cute cartoon character face icon), and also track your average number of stars (i.e., how accurate you are), your kCals burned in Sweat Mode, your favorite songs, and your online level. .
The Dancing: The dancing itself works pretty much the same as past Just Dance games. Each song’s choreography is designed for 1-4 different players. If you’re playing with 2 or more players, there will be four parallel colored columns, and each player needs to move within one of these to register which dancer position they’ll be dancing to. Whether you’re dancing with 2, 3, or 4 people, you really do need to be a good distance from your Kinect–anything less than about 10 feet and you’ll probably be bumping into each other mercilessly. To dance, of course, you follow your on-screen counterpart as if looking in a mirror.
The scoring can be frustrating if you’re used to playing Just Dance on other platforms. The system is pretty unforgiving if you don’t match the movements exactly in three dimensional space, which can be somewhat of a downer. With Just Dance 3 and 4, you had the option of selecting “easy mode” and having the system track only your upper half. I don’t see that that option with this version.
Other options on the main menu include the following:
Just Sweat – This mode allows you to play several songs in a row for 10, 20, or 40 minute programs. You can also turn on “free mode”, which turns on a calorie counter that tracks you calories and elapsed time for any song in the game. Here’s me Sweating to an Oldie.
Shop – As you play the game, you’ll earn points, which are tallied by a yellow “M” in the corner of the screen. You can use these points to “purchase” unlockable content for the game. These include:
- Alternate Choreography. Here’s where you can unlock “On Stage” , “Extreme”, “Sweat” and “Battle Mode” choreography for songs. As of the launch of the game there are 24 of these to unlock.
- Mash-Ups & Co. Here, you can download Mash-Ups and Sweat Mash-Ups of songs, as well as different Party Master modes. There are 77 of these to unlock, which should keep you pretty busy. All are 5 points to unlock, and there’ll be a “free one” to unlock each month of the year (as long as you’re connected online you’ll get a pop-up each month that alerts you to the free mash-up and avatar that’s available for you).
- New Songs. Unfortunately you can’t use your points to unlock new songs–you’ll need real money for that. Ubisoft cleverly weaved a list of purchasable songs into this menu so you’ll always be reminded of it when you’re unlocking content.
Thankfully, they let you navigate using your Xbox handheld controller instead of forcing you to use Kinect for everything.
The World Dance Floor option will show up if you’re signed in. A number will show how many dancers are currently online. This is an interesting online mode where you can literally dance with players from around the world, earn points along the way, and even make friends. The good news is that you’re not personally identifiable, other than the name on your dancer card. There’s a countdown timer to “Happy Hour”, when you can earn extra points.
There are a number of activities on the Dance Floor. You can participate in dance offs against other players, you can dance to the same song with everyone in the group and see who’s the best, and you can vote on which song to dance to next. It’s a lot of fun, and it really adds a new dimension to dancing.
Finally, there’s another online feature called JDTV that consists of videos that other players around the world have uploaded. One thing I found a little disconcerting is that your dancing will automatically be recorded as an “Autodance” video each time you dance until you turn it off, and if you have social networks configured, it’ll be automatically shared. You need to press the Start button on your Xbox controller to get to a menu where you can turn these off.
I was also a little disappointed that while Just Dance 3 and Just Dance Greatest Hits both support Kinect PlayFit, neither Just Dance 4 nor Just Dance 2014 do.
Here’s a complete song list that lists artist, song name, number of dancers, and difficulty level of the classic choreography, including some classics…
…and some soon-to-be classics?
They’ve done away with separate rating for difficulty and exertion, and have simplified it to easy, medium, and hard.
- One Direction – Kiss You – 4 – Easy
- Lady Gaga – Just Dance – 1 – Hard
- George Michael – Careless Whisper – 2 – Hard
- Kesha – C’mon – 2 – Medium
- David Guetta ft SIA – She Wolf (Falling to Pieces) – 1 – Medium
- The Girly Team – Flashdance-What a Feeling – 1 – Hard
- Disney’s Aladdin – Prince Ali – 4 – Medium
- Daft Punk ft. Pharrel Williams – Get Lucky – 2 – Medium
- Jessie J ft. Big Sean – Wild – 1 – Hard
- PSY – Gentleman – 1 – Medium
- Robin Thicke ft. Pharrel Williams – Blurred Lines – 2 – Easy
- Ray Parker Jr. – Ghostbusters – 4 – Medium
- Gloria Gaynor- I Will Survive – 1 – Easy
- Will.i.am ft. Justin Biener #thatPOWER – 4 – Hard
- Daddy Yankee – Limbo – 2 – Hard
- Ariana Grande ft. Mac Miller – The Way – 2 – Easy
- Nicki Minaj – Pound the Alarm – 4 – Medium
- Frankie Bostello – Love Boat – 1 – Medium
- Olly Mira ft. Flo Rida – Troublemaker – 1 – Easy
- Lady Gaga -Applause – 1 – Medium
- Mick Jackson- Blame it on the Boogie – 4 – Easy
- Imposs ft. Konshens- Feel So Right – 1 – Hard
- Mungo Jerry- In the Summertime – 4 – Easy
- Chris Brown – Fine China – 1 – Medium
- Louis Prima – Just a Gigolo – 2 – Medium
- Rihanna – Where Have You Been – 1 – Hard
- Ricky Martin – Maria – 1 – Hard
- Abba – Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight) – 1 – Easy
- Dancing Bros – Moskau – 2 – Hard
- Pitbull ft. Christina Aguilera – Feel This Moment – 1 – Easy
- Wisin and Handel ft. Jennifer Lopez – Follow the Leader -1 – Hard
- Village People – YMCA – 4 – Easy
- Far East Movement ft. Cover Drive – Turn Up the Love – 2 – Hard
- Bob Marley – Could You Be Loved – 2 – Easy
- Nicki Minaj – Starships – 1 – Hard
- Ruts hen Planeten – 99 Luftballons – 2 – Easy
- Robbie Williams – Candy- 2 – Medium
- Katy Perry – I Kissed a Girl – 1 – Medium
- Bog Bog Orkestar – Isidora – 1 – Medium
- Gwen Stefani ft. Eve- Rich Girl – 1 – Easy
- Duck Sauce – It’s You – 1 – Medium
- The Sunlight Shakers – Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In – 2 – Easy
- Sammie – Misunderstood – 1 – Medium
- Sunlight Express – Nitro Bot – 2 – Medium
- Jason Derulo – The Other Side – 1 – Hard
- Ivete Sangalo – Dancando – 1 – Medium
- (Free download) Katy Perry- Roar
- (Free download) Macklemore & Ryan Lewis ft. Ray Dalton – Can’t Hold Us