Ubisoft’s colossal Just Dance series has become a common name among party gamers and rhythm fans. The gameplay essentially boils down to you mirroring a brightly coloured avatar in order to pull shapes to popular songs across a variety of genres. Compatible with up to four players, the franchise scores you by tracking your right hand and awarding you a star rating. It’s a compelling concept – and one that continues to boogie to the beat of our drum in this PlayStation 4 iteration.
Of course, dancing would be pointless without good music. Fortunately, that’s an area where Just Dance 2014 doesn’t disappoint. With artists ranging from George Michael to Lady Gaga, there will be something that everyone will enjoy. Even better, just about every one of the 50 track roster is well choreographed for players of all skill levels. For those waiting for their turn, each song also offers bonus points if someone else in the room sings karaoke.
To add a touch of variety, some tunes offer Mash-Ups and On-Stage modes. The former often represents a more challenging version of a track with varying dance moves taken from other songs from the game, resulting in a nice change of pace. Meanwhile, the latter has you singing and dancing as if you were performing at a concert, and includes drop-in/drop-out support for up to four friends resulting in a curiously co-operative experience.
If you’re really looking to test yourself, some songs now include an ‘Extreme’ difficulty tier which forces you to adapt your dance moves to faster, more difficult routines. In order to perform these songs, you’ll need both plenty of practice and even more stamina. The same is true of Battle mode, which sees your moves transposed to a Street Fighter-esque dance off. You’ll need to pull serious shapes in order to ‘attack’ your opponent and deplete their health bar as promptly as possible.
While these modes do offer some replay value, they’re not always supported by the game’s full song roster, and it can be difficult to determine which tracks actually offer them in the first place. To add even more insult to injury, some of these features cannot be unlocked unless you’re playing the game during a certain month of the year. Fans of the Ghostbusters theme, for example, will need to wait until February to access the Mash-Up mode for Ray Parker, Jr.’s masterpiece.
One of the most entertaining features when playing with others is watching the quick 20 second replay after each song called the ‘autodance’. Here, the game automatically captures your best moves on camera and arranges them into a clip. These can then be edited with various effects, saved, and even shared with various social networks. It offers a great way to store those embarrassing moments from a party or family gathering.
Should you want to share your dance with the globe, JDTV allows you to publish your autodance online for the rest of the world to see. Dancing machines can then watch, rate, and even subscribe to your videos. Of course, you can also find some respite from the humiliation by watching others boogie like mad.
Outside of local multiplayer, World Dancefloor allows for large groups of players to compete or work together towards various challenges. While you won’t see the other participants – for better or for worse – you’ll sometimes compete to score the most points on a particular song or occasionally select a side in an attempt to prove that your dance crew is the best.
The game allows you to play in one of two ways: using just the PlayStation Camera, or with a mix of the optical peripheral and the PlayStation Move controller. While the idea of playing without Sony’s illuminating wand is appealing, it should be avoided at all costs. Trying to get the camera to calibrate correctly is annoying, and even when you pass that arduous process, it still won’t score you correctly. Even worse, the game will often add non-existent players, which completely ruins the experience.
Fortunately, the Move controls work brilliantly. The menus are easy to navigate, playing with multiple players is a piece of cake, and the scoring is spot on. Adding and removing participants is painless, too, as the calibration is completed automatically.
As long as you have a Move controller in your hand, then Just Dance 2014 deserves your A-P-P-L-A-U-S-E. The impressive setlist and varied dance styles make this an incredibly fun title for both newcomers and experts alike. More consistency between modes would have been welcome, and improved standalone PlayStation Camera tracking could have certainly elevated the release even further. If you own Sony’s illuminating wand, though, this is easily the best party game on the PS4.