With the most wonderful time of year fast approaching and with many parties waiting to be held, it’s time to get up on the floor and boogie oogie oogie till you just can’t boogie no more with Just Dance 2015. Will you dance the night away or just sit this one out? Read on to find out.
Game: Just Dance 2015
Just Dance 2015 has a very distinctive style that is easily recognisable thanks to its dazzling colour pallet and character styles. The bright colours and funky costumes all emphasise the energetic and fun nature of the game. The menu layout has been kept very simplistic, with large square tiles and text that can easily be seen from a distance. The one downside to this however is that you have to scroll through many panels to find the selection you’re looking for which can be slightly tedious. Each song is represented by a either a solo dancer or a group depending on the song, all of which boast extravagant outfits, from casual bright shirts and skirts to stylish suits. Some even look like they came over from Tron, with neon flashing bars and shapes lighting up an otherwise dark silhouette. Other outfits are more cartoonish in fancy dress, from a princess and a frog who transforms into a prince as the routine progresses to a cunning furry fox or a lovely pink rather large headed unicorn. The dancers themselves are quite simplistic with little realistic features but more of a cartoon or comic look. Their bold and quirky outfits help draw your attention to their movements, making them a little easier to copy compared to the simple stick diagrams in the lower corner that are at times somewhat confusing to follow.
Each song has its own unique stage themed on the song itself. The song ‘Happy’ for example features changing surroundings of streets or ‘Dark Horse’ features an Egyptian landscape loosely representing their official music videos. Many stages feature flashing lights and geometric patterns illustrated in the background sometimes accentuated by kaleidoscope effects and all contain vivid colour schemes. Other scenes have more of a childish and more playful manner, for example ‘What Does the Fox Say’ has more of a storybook look, featuring turning pages introducing the scene or ‘Love Is All’ has a side scrolling fairytale scene. This one in particular features other famous Ubisoft characters in the background such as Rayman’s Globox or Raving Rabbids which is rather a nice unexpected touch and the illustration style clearly has an influence here. Not all stages are as busy such as ‘Love Me Again’ which has a purely typographic background, with the lyrics to the song represented by various different fonts. In fact a plethora of typography is used throughout the game, all styled accordingly. Sadly as fun and detailed the backgrounds may be they can easily be overlooked, with your eyes drawing more focus towards the dancer to copy the moves than paying attention to what’s going on behind them. For people watching however they are a lovely sight and once you have perfected your choreography then you can really focus on what’s in front of you.
Groove is in the heart of Just Dance 2015 with 45 new chart topping tracks to shake your groove thing to. There is something on offer for everyone here so don’t fret about it being full of new pop tunes for the younger people. Some popular artists that feature include Pharrell Williams Happy, Avicci’s Addicted To You, Ellie Goulding’s Burn, Rihanna’s Diamonds and Lady GaGa’s Bad Romance to name a few. Younger Just Dancers can enjoy tracks from One Direction and 5 Seconds of Summer and even the popular Disney’s Frozen Let It Go gets a special feature which is sure to keep them happy. For lovers of older classics there are hits from Bonnie Tyler, Dead Or Alive, Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell and even the great Run-DMC and Aerosmith for a touch of rock. Of course no party game can do without a smidge of crazy which is generously provided by Ylvis What Does the Fox Say, Miley Cyrus 4×4 and the rather odd Dancing Bros Tetris. Whilst these may be irritating to some strangely they suck you in and are great fun to dance and have a laugh to.
There is a great variety here in terms of genre but also rhythm. Some songs like ‘Bad Romance’ can be quite complex, The Bouzouki’s Epic Sirtaki starts slow then gradually picks up to a frantic pace whereas Love Letter’s Only You has a relaxing easy sway so if you don’t feel like going crazy then there are more relaxing options to enjoy. If after a while you tire of hearing the same songs over again then the library can be expanded through DLC where new tracks can be purchased, including hits from Just Dance 2014 such as Psy’s ‘Gangam Style’ or ‘Sexy and I Know It’ by LMFAO.
Fans of the Just Dance series will find the gameplay is very similar to previous entries, with a few new additions to expand your experience and freshen things up, whilst newcomers to the series will find a very entertaining experience awaits them. The gameplay is all in the title, you Just Dance to a variety of songs, following the on screen choreography like it is your reflection for a great time! This is the key to its success, anyone can do it and you don’t have to be a great dancer to enjoy the game, it is open to people of all skills and ages, united through the power of dance. It goes without saying you will need a vast amount of space to avoid knocking anything down with your crazy dance moves! Navigating your way around is relatively easy with the menu being large and simplistic. The downside to this however is that you must scroll your way through to reach the selection you want whereas a dropdown menu may have been more efficient. You can navigate using your controller or by moving your hand, either grabbing and pulling to the side or hovering over items. On the home screen you have the Just Dance wall in the top corner. Here is where you will find up to date news from the community, challenge notifications and news including new and current tournaments and available DLC as well as recent unlocks. Clicking on items here will take you straight to the relevant section. There are two ways to keep score and track your movements. One is to use the Kinect sensor or for those of you without you can now download the Just Dance 2015 Motion Controller app. This can be downloaded for free on the app store or google play and turns your mobile device into a form of Wii remote that senses your hand movements, making it that little bit easier if you have two left feet. On the Xbox version you can have up to 6 players taking part at any one time using either option. On selecting a song there will be six panels for you to step in to, each with a different title like ‘Jazzy’ or ‘Crazy’ which identifies you at the top of the screen so you know who has what score and is performing the best. The only issue here is that the Kinect tends to be a little sensitive and will pick up someone sitting on the sofa or a wandering dog that will be added to the game without meaning too. This however is only a minor issue and does not affect your gameplay in any way.
As the song starts you will notice your title at the top which is where your score will appear. Your moves are ranked from a fail if you miss or incorrectly perform, through good to perfect. Your moves are picked up quite easily and there is no need to perform the moves exactly as they appear, although if you want the best score then accuracy is vital. You are not only scored on moves but also your rhythm so not only must you make the right move but timing and execution will also be evaluated so put in your all and really feel it! Gold Moves are ones to look out for which can be recognized with a golden glow around the dancer and diagram. Performing this move will gain you more mojo! Stars will be rewarded as you perform which can be seen at the top and to the side represented by a rising bar that fills up stars as you perform moves correctly. Apart from following the dancer in the centre there are also stick figure diagrams in the lower corner which show what moves are coming up next, however these are sometimes hard to interpret correctly. For those that love a good sing along lyrics are displayed in the lower left corner that you can follow and sing to whilst you dance for extra points, however trying to do this at the same time can prove rather distracting. Some songs will be solo dances whilst others may be performed as a duet or as a dance group. Where there is more than one role to play you can step in and select which part you want to perform, and some roles you may find easier than others as they have their own different dance moves. If you don’t fancy being the centre of attention then you can be a backing dancer or you can perform a lovely couple’s duet. This does not mean however that you have to play with another, all songs can be performed solo, however it is a little sad to hold hands and spin around in a circle with your imaginary friend.
As you complete dances you will unlock new avatars which can be used to personalise your dance card. Unlike previous versions there will only be one card available, meaning multiple users can’t have their own which is a little odd to have been removed. As you play you will earn mojo, the in game currency which can be used to purchase new avatars and new alternate versions of songs. A feature called Autodance will record snippets of your performance which can be saved and viewed later. This can also be shared with all your friends directly to Facebook or this can be shared with Just Dance and be put into a new feature, the Community Remix. At the developers discretion your snippet can appear as part of the community remix, an alternate version of a song that puts you and others into the spotlight instead of the usual dancer for you to follow along with. This new feature gives you the opportunity to strut your stuff and show what you can do and see how others interpret and follow the moves, along with making you feel connected to the large Just Dance community.
A newly added Challenge Mode allows you to compete with dancers from all over the world without a physical presence needed. You may send or receive challenges which will appear under the songs tile on the menu. This adds some competition into the game where you must try and beat your opponent’s score that has been uploaded and saved online. This keeps you coming back for more as you prove who the best dancer is! A returning feature, the World Dance Stage sets you in play with other dancers in real time. Here you can see what song is playing and how many others are currently taking part. Like challenge mode you can compete and compare your score with others to see who’s the best dancer in the world with live leader boards both local and worldwide. This gives a more social connection and allows you to compete as a team by voting for songs or playing vs matches with two teams, picking which side you wish to play for.
As you play you will unlock various other versions of particular songs, some that may be purchased with earned mojo. Alternate versions include Mash-Ups which present new character appearances from other songs to alternative or official choreography for a fresh challenge. Karaoke mode allows you to specifically sing into a microphone or Kinect with less focus on dance with simpler moves. There are versions which require you to sit down on a chair or more fitness focused dances that give you a good workout and allow you to track calories burned. Calorie tracking can also be activated for all songs for those wishing to know how their hard work and sweat is paying off. Playlists in particular are a good use for this’s feature as you can create a non-stop loop or set up a 10 to 40 minute session, where you can select your favourite tracks to work out to. Sweat is one thing you will encounter a lot! Whilst some songs are quite relaxed with lovely waltzes, others will make you feel like you’re taking an acrobatics lesson, with jumps in the air, crouching down on all fours and the splits, it is certainly a game that will keep you fit, it’s as good as a Zumba lesson!
Just Dance can mainly be considered a party game, brought out for parties and special occasions or just for the odd laugh. There is no campaign mode to keep you returning, however challenge mode aims to fill this gap by presenting you with opportunities to prove you have the best moves against other players, after all you wouldn’t turn down a challenge would you? Some songs are relatively easy but others will take some time to master and gives you that aim to keep trying and reach 5 stars. New songs can be purchased to bust a move to, ranging from £1.59 to £2.39 per song which is a little pricey but does allow you to expand your experience and check back for the latest tracks. Just Dance will host new challenges every now and then for you to take part in which will unlock new avatars and will freshen up your Just Dance experience.
A standalone app called Just Dance Now whilst not connected to Just Dance 2015 is a mobile app that allows you to experience Just Dance without a console, bringing it to a larger audience. By downloading the app it turns your phone into a remote, allowing you to dance with an unlimited amount of players all sharing a screen that is connected to the internet such as a tablet or smart TV. With a track list that is constantly updated this will keep your Just Dance experience alive wherever you are when you cant access Just Dance 2015 on your console.
This was my first experience of a dancing game as I had always shied away from dancing in front of others but this has opened me up to a new experience that was extremely fun! The songs and graphics make you feel energised and you just can’t help but boogie away, even to songs you hate. Even those who would also normally shy away joined me in the fun which often lead to us laughing and crying in stitches! It doesn’t matter if you’re not the greatest of dancers, it’s all about having fun and it is exactly that. Whilst some fans may be disappointed with the few additional features and not much distinction from past versions, Just Dance is a lot of fun and if you loved it before then you certainly still will now. I can’t wait to bring this out for Christmas and birthdays, bringing the Just Dance 2015 experience to all my friends for a good time. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it!