Just Dance 2017 (Switch) Review
Like the McDonald’s that’s probably near your house, there’s almost always going to be a copy of Just Dance on whatever console you own. That allegory was flakey, I’m sorry, but it’s hard to deny just how ubiquitous the franchise is. While it lacks the depth of its major competitors (though is Dance Central even bothering to compete anymore?) Just Dance has always been a bit of dumb fun. Just Dance 2017, while it’s almost the same as the same game released in October 2016, continues the tradition. For better or for worse. Though there’s no major surprises here.
Without wasting too much time discussing something I’m sure everyone knows – Just Dance is a series of games where you mimic an on-screen dancer and the player who does the dance closest to whatever is being played on screen gets the most points. It sounds technical, but it’s not, and it’s just meant to be a very loose way to look like an idiot in front of your TV with your mates. It sounds like I’m being down on Just Dance but I’m not – I think it’s great – but I take it for exactly what it is.
The Nintendo Switch version of the game benefits greatly from the simplicity of the hardware. The smart phone method – which gives a smart phone to each player with a synchronised app – works here. But the Joy-Con are probably the better way to play (especially if you manage to drop a Joy-Con as opposed to your smartphone) but both are fine.
The app itself surprised me, as it took little to know time to sync with my console and even more surprisingly I didn’t have to sign into uPlay either. To put it simply – no matter whether you’re using a Joy-Con or the app, both work fine and it’s better to be able to play Just Dance 17 with what comes in the box whereas other platforms might require a camera or extra controllers.
From the get-go, you’ve got about 40 or so tracks to play around in, and boy are they diverse. Whether you’re into the more weird and obscure stuff (like Hatsune Miku, INNA,AronChupa) or the chart toppers like David Guetta, Justin Bieber or Beyonce there’s bound to be something for anyone from any generation. That’s until you get bored of the offerings that are given to you from the outset. From that point, it gets a little bit murkier.
Rather than offer you downloadable content piecemeal like in previous renditions, Just Dance 17 wants to push on you the Just Dance Unlimited service. Best described as Spotify but for Just Dance routines, it asks for a monthly subscription in exchange for a huge amount of access to routines from heaps of songs.
Given how many songs have been given the Just Dance treatment, it kind of makes sense. But there’s bound to be some people rubbed the wrong way by having to play a monthly fee on top of the $89.95 asking price for Just Dance 17 in stores. Perhaps 10 or more songs on the game card at launch would’ve lessened the blow.
Such an issue is also exacerbated if you have somebody who is a Just Dance Unlimited subscriber but wants to take the Switch out of the house. While the fact that you can setup a Switch and literally play Just Dance anywhere you want (within reason, of course) is great. But the fact that someone might need to incur data charges to download some songs from a service they pay for already might also prove problematic for some players.
When playing in Tabletop Mode, the game doesn’t quite work as well as you’d want. While it’s surreal to hear commercial music blaring out of the Switch’s speakers, it’s also just too small a screen to play properly for extended periods of time, especially if standing further back from it. It sounds like a strange thing to complain about, but given that you might have four people standing in front of a single Switch, and the distance needed to play without assaulting someone accidentally, it is an issue worth mentioning.
There is a whole bunch of extra modes that attempt to spice up the Just Dance experience though at this point they’re hardly anything game changing. Perhaps more encouragingly is that the Switch experience doesn’t feel dumbed down – all the modes that appeared in previous versions on other platforms make an appearance here too. Even the kooky campaign mode, which I still can’t quite work out.
From a presentation standpoint Just Dance 17 still looks as great as ever. I mean it is technically just a selection of over filtered, over stylised videos. But the way that the team at Ubisoft manage to put out more and more absurd videos that somehow feel appropriate for the song they’re talking about is to be commended. One thing to note however is the the game doesn’t allow you to take screenshots, at all. The entire game has ‘capture not allowed’ from boot up to dancing. Which is a shame.
Just Dance 17 is both refreshing and stale. On one hand, it’s great to see a late port from a third party that has as many features, if not more than the other versions available. On the other, the Just Dance franchise itself is pretty much the same as it was last year, or the year before, or the year before. But if the songs appeal to you and you don’t mind some good, dumb fun, then Just Dance 17 is for you. Otherwise, this is not going to be changing anybody’s mind. It’s Just Dance, it works well on Switch, but it’s not going to be breaking any ground.