I’ve been playing the yearly releases of Just Dance for the past 3-4 years, and every year after playing it I say to myself “That’s the most fun I’ve had with Just Dance yet.” For a yearly release, I’ve always found Just Dance add enough in each year to warrant my purchase, and this year is no different.
Just Dance has been around since 2009, so if you aren’t familiar with the formula by now you must be living under a rock. To break it down, dance moves appear on screen that will appear what’s next and also will be played out by a dancer (or multiple depending on the song) appearing as a mirror image to you. All movement is done using the Wii Remote (or your smartphone, but we shall get back to that) that is held in your right hand and the rest is up to you.
Last year Ubisoft released a companion app on iOS, Android & Windows Phone to act as a controller for the game, Unfortunately Wii U skipped out on app support in Just Dance 2015, but debuts it’s way into Just Dance 2016. Once the app is downloaded, it will search for devices on the same wifi network and automatically connect. Using the app is easy, you can navigate the whole Just Dance menu from it and on my phone (OnePlus One running Android for reference) it worked just as good as my Wii Remote Plus, even featuring vibrations and sound effects reflecting my score in game. The game can either be played with phones (sorry, you can’t dance with your tablets) or Wii Remotes, so you can’t mix and match. The benefit of using your phone if you have 4 wii remotes already is that using the Just Dance Controller App, it will allow you to connect 6 players instead of the 4 bound to Wii Remotes, just hope you have quite a large space to play it in.
So what else is new in Just Dance 2016? Well aside from a UI upgrade with slick transitions between groupings of Songs, is the addition of a co-op scoring system for songs. Instead of fighting over can get the most points and stars in a song, which is still in there if you wanted it, you can now team up and share points and unlock gems. While this is a simple addition to add into the game, it’s actually quite a big change that made the game a lot more enjoyable for me and my freind who aren’t really competitive and enjoy doing the duet and group songs.
The Second addition is an entirely new mode called Dance Quest. In this mode you play what is essentially a Mario Kart Gran Prix, 3 Songs are played back to back to back and you are placed on a ladder based on your points. There’s 3 difficulties to chose from, which dosen’t change the moves of the song, but will effect how good/bad the AI opponents will score. Once the song is finished you earn points based on your ranking, and then onto the next song. After the conclusion of the 3 Songs, if you are in the top 3 out of 8, you are handed a Gold/Silver/Bronze trophy and also unlock the next quest. There’s 17 guests in total and while nothing is different from playing the songs normally, you can play with friends in this mode and your scores are combined, it’s a great way to add something extra to the game that gives those playing solo a little more motivation to continue.
Showtime is a new feature where…. you can kind of make your own music video? This mode is weird to say the least. The Gamepad will record you using the camera (hope you kept those stands included!) doing whatever dance moves you feel necessary, seriously you don’t even need a controller, and overlap this into a song specific video clip that features the lyrics and some weird cut out effects that sometimes take your live footage and splice it in, or sometimes uses a picture, or sometimes crops you out entirely if you aren’t in the right position. I feel this feature is great for a laugh once, and maybe kids will get a reaction out of seeing themselves dance along, but unless you’re going to completely choreograph your dance moves to the song specific editing, you’re not going to get anything that looks anything decent, maybe that’s the point, who knows. What you can do with this is share it to your friends on Facebook or upload it to Just Dance TV.
Apart from the big addition that is Just Dance Unlimited which I will get to at the end of the review, that’s all the new features included into Just Dance 2016, worth noting none of those above features are included in the Wii Version. There’s a whole bunch of returning features and modes from previous Just Dance titles that have some variations to them.
Sweat & Playlists allows you to group up a bunch of songs in a playlist and track your supposed calories burned whilst Playing. Just Dance TV allows you to view and upload your Showtime & Autodance clips while watching other users uploads. Autodance is generated by the Wii U gamepad filming you dance at certain instances to generate a comedic clip at the end of a song for you to look back at your fantastic dance moves.
Exclusive to the Wii U version of the game is a variation on Puppet Master mode, a mode first introduced in Just Dance 4 that allowed a 5th player to use the gamepad to select dance moves on certain songs from a large pool of moves. It Returns this year as Party Master mode, and the idea is the same, choose 1 of 4 moves for the other players to dance to that could be from any song. Unfortunately this year it only applies to 5 songs, instead of the 17 that Just Dance 4 had, but new to this is the concept of changing songs midway through. Sometimes purple moves will appear and that will actually change the song you are currently dancing to, and can be changed upwards of 5 times back and forth. It’s sad such a fun mode is relatively hidden away in Dance Party and only features 5 songs, the mode would be so much more fun with double the songs.
Community Remix is uploaded periodically by Ubisoft and features a song, currently Uptown Funk, with videos of Dance moves uploaded by fans.. (or Ubisoft employees). Mashups are unlocked with ingame credits and pulls dance moves from other songs instead of the normal ones. Also unlocked with coins are alternate versions of songs, whether that be harder versions of the dance moves, or completely different moves such as Geisha & Car versions. This was easily my favourite of the unlockables, playing “Hey Mama” with Geisha inspired dance moves, or “Teacher” with moves all inspired by dancing along with the radio in your car, it’s always made me laugh and been the first things i look to in a new Just Dance Game. Of course this game wouldn’t be made by Ubisoft if it didn’t include UPlay bonuses, whether it be Assassin’s’ Creed Syndicate profile icons or the 7 locked away songs, mostly consisting of songs from prior versions.
World Video Challenge is an upgrade to the World Dancefloor from last year. The same concept applies, you challenge somebody’s recorded score to see who is the best dancer. While this is an online mode, users score and your own score if somebody challenges you are recorded and then uploaded, so there’s no live user-to-user interaction. This year it gets a little creepy as video is added to the mix, this time you will see you opponent on the top right of your screen as they dance along to the same track as you, and you are also displayed to them next time they log on and see the challenge. It’s a fun mode, but there’s no way I can see where you can vs your friends which is a little disappointing.
So now that’s almost every mode covered, it’s time to get to the biggest addition to Just Dance 2016, Just Dance Unlimited. DLC is going away in the Just Dance franchise and instead being replaced with a streaming service. Just Dance Unlimited costs $9.95AUD for 1 Month Access, $19.95AUD for 3 months & $59.95AUD for 1 Year. This will grant you access to an additional 150 songs at time of review to dance along with, 148 of these are from previous Just Dance titles: Just Dance 1, 2, 3, 4, 2014 & 2015. Two songs so far are exclusive “Cheerleader by OMI” and “Smile by IOWA”, with more coming and being updated over the next 12 months and beyond. There’s also 4 exclusive Dance Quest quests that are Just Dance Unlimited exclusive and a bunch of profile icons. All of this is streamed to the console, at first the video was quite blurry and low quality (however you could always make out what to do) but like loading a youtube video, it slowly buffered and become HD. The whole process was smooth for the most part, only had one instance where it had issues reaching the servers.
A 1 month subscription code is included in the game for you to try before you buy, but honestly i’m not 100% sure if this is worth the money. Songs like “U Can’t Touch This” or “Hey Ya” which were exclusive to Just Dance 1 and 2 can be played with Just Dance Unlimited, but as the Wii U is backwards compatible with the Wii and can play every instance of Just Dance, you could probably pick up Just Dance 1 through 2015 for around the same price as a 1 year subscription, and this means you can play almost all the songs currently available on the service forever. In saying that, if you wanted to swap between a song from Just Dance 3, to Just Dance 2014 to Just Dance 2016, it will obviously become cumbersome to do so.
Also another aspect to consider is Just Dance Now, another subscription service Ubisoft offer. Just Dance Now is a app based service where you use your phone as a conttroller and connect to any internet enabled screen, whether it be Wii U browser, a PC or a Smart TV, as long as it has internet access and a web browser you can play Just Dance, and you can also have a near unlimited amount of players at one time. The VIP Service costs $8.99AUD for 1 month, $18.99 for 3 months, & $58.64AUD for 1 year, and only one person in the room you are connected to needs to have purchased this. You can also buy songs individually or in packs to keep forever, You can actually buy every song included on the Just Dance 2016 disc for $49.99AUD in Just Dance Now, but this is also included in the VIP service. VIP song lists expands over 200 songs, and includes most of Just Dance Unlimited offerings. Just Dance Now doesn’t have any of the fancy modes 2016 & Unlimited include, but if you Just want to Dance (pun intended) Just Dance Now may be a simpler and much cheaper option taking into consideration the $58.64 service includes every song in Just Dance 2016 that retails for $59.95.
Review concludes below
Note: While available on Wii, this review will cater to the Wii U version of the game. Last gen platforms like the Wii, 360, PS3 miss out on features in 2016 such as Dance Quest, Just Dance Unlimited, Showtime & App support. The Tracklist on disc however is identical.