Just Dance 2015: Review

It’s been many years (or at least, it feels like it) since Ubisoft first scored their massive sleeper success with an unassuming Wii title called Just Dance. In fact, since the initial release five years ago, the series has seen several releases, and has kept fans going with new additions and ideas, migrating onto other platforms and bringing the dance craziness to more and more gamers. But the series is starting to show its age a little. It may be the only dance game that is consistently seeing a yearly release, but it is starting to feel like the developers really need to do more to the new titles, rather than just adding a bunch of funky tracks and dance routines. It’s time for Just Dance to take a much needed next step.

What exactly that step right be is difficult to say, because the game still works really well as a party pleaser. But there are certainly areas that Just Dance can address (and doesn't in this latest game). Movement detection still seems a little loose, meaning that the game is a lot more forgiving than someone who takes their dancing seriously would want it to be. That, combined with move cues that are still a little ambiguous, means that almost anything goes. While other dance games try and correct the player, Just Dance 2015 doesn't. Aside from ranking the player with words like good or perfect, very little guidance is given. Sure, you can work your way through a given song multiple times to get it just right, but it’s a lot more work than you may have to do with other titles.

One very good addition that has been made to the game this time out is Challenger mode. It’s a sort of extension of World Dance Floor, which surfaced last year and allows players to compete against other players online, rather than trying to cram a group of players in front of one TV. Well, Challenger records high scores and performances of players around the globe, and allows you to compete with them, even when they are not online almost like a ghost in a racing game. It adds a lot of value for the solo practitioner, and can be used across most modes.

While Just Dance 2015 is a perfectly serviceable new edition of the franchise, and features 41 songs to get down to, it simply doesn't feel like the franchise is taking advantage of the move it made to new generation consoles. Adding in a Community Remix feature (which allows players to record performances and submit them to Ubisoft for possible inclusion in remix efforts is all fine and well, but that could have happened on the previous generation. So, in fact, could anything that this current title has on offer.

It raises a question about annualised games, because we’re seeing more and more of them do just enough to be slightly distinct from the previous iteration. And that seems to be setting a trend that should be disturbing to most gamers, and particularly the fans of these annualised franchises. When the game doesn't do enough new to really stand apart from what came before, what real motivation does the consumer have to buy it year after year ? It is a question publishers need to ask themselves; funky graphics, some new songs and an added feature or two just cover up the fact that Just Dance is a franchise in need of evolution, no matter how fun it is.


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