Review: Just Dance 2015

Just Dance 2014 marked the transition from proper sequel numbering to the series having a yearly moniker. Just Dance 2015 continues that tradition and it seems like it’s for the worse rather than the better. While Just Dance has been a yearly series since its inception, having traditional numbering made each game distinct from the last. Putting the year in the title, however, makes it like a sports series where it’s practically the same game with the exception of new music and matching the visuals of whatever the console can do at the time. That’s clear in Just Dance 2015, as it’s really nothing more than a Just Dance 2014 track pack.

What’s new in Just Dance 2015? Not much. The “Community Remix” feature has been added that allows players to record themselves dancing during certain songs and allow the developers to create remixed gameplay that anybody can play. Additionally, the “Just Dance Wall” has been added that enables players to share their performances, stats and connect with other players. “Dance Challenger Mode” allows players to dance against anybody at any time. Finally, the “World Dance Floor” is more robust, allowing for more tournaments, stat tracking and social functions. Not much, indeed.

While all of the social functions work better than ever before, I’d wager that a large amount of the fanbase never even venture online. After all, this is a series that is played by many to lose weight, others to have fun with friends and some who don’t feel comfortable dancing in public. None of those groups would want to take advantage of the social features and most who would are probably underage and shouldn’t be anyway. While there are people taking advantage of the social features, it seems to be a small fraction of the total players, so it’s unclear why Ubisoft is placing a continued emphasis on them.

For the most part, 2015 looks and plays the same as 2014. Things have been simplified even further to the game’s detriment as while it’s easier than ever before to “just dance,” those who want to find specific modes will have a hard time navigating through the hidden options in the menus. Once a song is chosen, players follow the movement on the screen and let their Kinect capture it. As usual, this is a forgiving title that doesn’t favor accuracy, simply letting players progress at their own pace. And as usual, that’s absolutely fine as this has always been a party or workout game and never a serious rhythm game.

Exacerbating the problems with Just Dance 2015, however, is its awful tracklist. I’m normally forgiving about what songs make the cut in the series as it understandably needs to appeal to the general public, but this is just embarrassing. Excluding the covers which range from mediocre to terrible, there are literally only seven good songs – Dillon Francis and DJ Snake – Get Low, Gloria Gaynor – Never Can Say Goodbye, Dead Or Alive – You Spin Me Round (Like a Record), Katy Perry – Dark Horse, Icona Pop – I Love It, Run-DMC & Aerosmith – Walk This Way and Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. While I understand that musical tastes are subjective and that some will love the songs I hate, I’m being generous with what I consider “good” considering that Katy Perry and Dillon Francis made the cut. There were double the amount of respectable songs in 2014 and more importantly most of the ones that weren’t cuts that have made my personal collection were at least tolerable. Here there are songs from Ariana Grande, One Direction, 5 Seconds of Summer and Maroon 5. It’s clearly catering to teeny boppers and in doing so leaves out practically anybody older than 21 with decent taste in music. This is a series that at one point featured Vampire Weekend, Justice, Fatboy Slim and The Clash on the same soundtrack, so it’s inexcusable to choose the worst in popular music here.

Closing Comments:

Just Dance is a series that’s hard to hate as it genuinely wants players to have a good time, but 2015 is a misstep. Hardly anything has changed and practically nothing has for those who don’t partake in the online functionality, some features are missing and the interface has become too basic. More still, this is undoubtedly the worst tracklist of the entire series, squarely aiming towards a tween audience with tracks from One Direction, 5 Seconds of Summer and other equally awful “artists.” While those who like the included music will have fun, the series needs to be more than a glorified track pack to continue warranting its existence.

3outof5Version Reviewed: Xbox One