I’d like to think that I single-handedly saved Just Dance 2017.
I’m a huge fan of the franchise, but loathed 2016 — it seemed like a half-baked cash grab. One year on, and all the best bits of Just Dance are back in 2017 — including a best-in-class World Dance Floor. As always, expect over-the-top visuals, neon lights, ridiculous game modes and an emphasis on moving and having fun over perfection.
Like last year, up to four players are able to groove to their favourite beats, mirroring neon avatars who demonstrate moves on-screen . Tracking can be done via Kinect, Wiimote, PlayStation Camera, Switch Joy-Con or a smartphone app available on all major phone types. Peripheral tracking is the same as ever, so no matter your choice, make sure you’ve got some space and decent lighting.
If you’re on PS4 or Xbox One and have access to a camera, I’d suggest sticking to that method of tracking. For one, you’re not going to have to keep your phone in your hand – I imagine the Wiimote has wrist straps for a reason. Second, your phone’s screen stays powered on while you’re being tracked, also sending sound effects through your speakers when you do well. It’s a neat little experience, but it really just means your smartphone battery is going to take a hit. The Switch’s Joy-Con is better than the smartphone for the same reasons, and tracks just as well. The smartphone app worked perfectly, though tended to disconnect and struggle to reconnect on Xbox One if I kept bouncing around between Just Dance 2016, the Xbox Home screen and the Achievements app. Still, slight issues aside, multiple methods of tracking mean you can just dance (pun intended) no matter what your setup. The only issue with using a camera is that you’ll still need a controller handy to progress through Just Dance 2017‘s many menus.
There a bunch of modes on offer. In addition to versus or co-op playlists, you’ll be able to take part in Quests, World Dance Floor, Machine and more. Quests offer up three-song playlists at various difficulty levels. It’s like vanilla Just Dance, but with a bit of gamification built in. ‘Nuff said. A Sweat and Playlist mode is also as you’d expect, offering up pre-existing playlists or the ability to create your own; as each is played, you’ll get a calorie counter alongside your score. Machine’s a stupid, silly mode that requires you to mimic dance types from around the world in order to power up a UFO, saving stranded aliens. Yup. Finally, World Dance Floor is back with a vengeance, adding in boss battles and a tournament mode that’ll put you up against fellow human dancers. It’s the best.
Just Dance Unlimited, a subscription streaming service that’s best described as Spotify for Just Dance, continues to rear its ugly head. This time around, you seem to get three free months without the need for a secondary code, so at least you get a bunch of songs for a short period of time without dropping any cash or having to put in effort. Once again, in a time where Guitar Hero Live offers a free streaming service — without end — and Just Dance sort of does with World Dance Floor, Unlimited is nothing but a cash grab.
While there are a wealth of modes, on-disc tracks are a bit lame and from left field (slash are international and in a different language). Unlimited fixes this, with old-school classics and top 40 hits, but after three months, you may be left scratching your head, looking for something to dance to. Be warned.
Even with the weakest on-disc tracks to date, Just Dance 2017 is a massive step in the right direction. While last year’s entry was a massive miss, this one’s a definitely buy.
Just Dance 2017 was reviewed using promotional codes on Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, as provided by the publisher. This review first appeared on 31 October 2016.
Review: Just Dance 2017