Tis the season to be Just Dancin’…
The holidays this year may be different in lots of ways for many of us, but there is one thing that never changes – the release of the latest version of Ubisoft’s Just Dance franchise.
Ubisoft promises that Just Dance 2021 is the ‘ultimate dance game’, but with no other recent dance games available on the Xbox, it’s the only dance game. So, just how good is Just Dance 2021 and is it worth splashing your cash on?
If you’ve ever played a Just Dance game before then you will be able to navigate Just Dance 2021 with no problems. As usual you play using the Just Dance Controller app on your smartphone. After connecting, your phone becomes your controller for the game and you access the menus by swiping and touching your screen.
There are 40 new songs included with Just Dance 2021. Personally, I feel there is a better selection compared to Just Dance 2020. There is a good mix of genres from chart-topping pop (Rain on Me – Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande), Latino beats (Buscando – GTA & Jenn MOrel), K-pop hits (Ice Cream – BLACKPINK x Selena Gomez), old-skool dance (Get Get Down – Paul Johnson) and cheesy floor-fillers (In the Navy – The Village People). Even TikTok gets a nod with the inclusion of the Kulikitaka meme song.
To help you decide which song to dance to you can hover over its icon to hear a little snippet, plus you can see its difficulty ranking from easy to extreme.
The gameplay is the same as ever – you know the drill. Dance along following the moves of the brightly coloured dancers whilst holding your smartphone in your right hand. The game tracks your movements (well, the movement of your hand) and awards how well you copy the moves. Of course, this is not 100% accurate – but let’s be honest, if it was it wouldn’t be as much fun. This is not trying to teach you how to dance.
As you progress you accumulate stars – your aim is to get as high a score as possible as this allows you to collect ‘mojo’ and unlock new versions of the songs. If you manage to completely smash a song you might even earn the spot as dancer of the week.
If it’s possible, I think Just Dance 2021 is even more colourful than previous versions of the game – the costumes and digitally created backgrounds are pretty entertaining to watch. Fancy yourself as a camp pirate complete with feathery parrot headdress dancing on your poop deck? Well you can bring this dream to be a reality. What about a Mexican wrestler warming up for fight night? Not a problem: Just Dance 2021 can take you to all these places and more.
Selecting Home will take you to a screen where you can find news, tips, featured content and access to the World Dance Floor. World Dance Floor is a returning feature which gives you the opportunity to dance in tournaments with players from around the world. On entering you are assigned to a room and you dance along whilst keeping on eye on how well you are doing by seeing your avatar move up, or down, the ranking. Be warned though – there are some people that must spend their life on Just Dance, they are that good.
On Playlists you will find a number of curated playlists that change throughout the year. You can also create your own playlist full of your favourite songs. However, with only 40 songs in Just Dance 2021 both of these features really only come into their own if you have Just Dance Unlimited.
One month free of Just Dance Unlimited is included with a copy of the game, and can be unlocked from the Home screen. It is a subscription streaming service that contains the entire Just Dance back catalogue plus many extra songs, many of which are exclusive. This is essential if you want the game to have any kind of longevity, allowing you to continue to enjoy new songs way after you have grown tired of the 40 songs included in the game. It costs £19.99 for a year but it might just be worth it if you own Just Dance 2021, as you get a whopping 600 songs – nearly enough for 2 new dances a day while you wait for Just Dance 2022 to hit the shelves. Compare this to the 400 songs you got with Just Dance 2020 and Unlimited, and some may feel this alone is a good enough reason to buy Just Dance 2021.
If you do subscribe to Just Dance Unlimited and have 600 songs to search through, the Search function comes in handy, allowing you to find your favourite floor-fillers by artist name, song or tags.
If you head to the Profile area you’ll be able to spend your well-earned mojo in the gift machine to get new avatars and skins for your profile, as well as stickers that you use to complete your sticker album.
Some songs are for solo dancers, and others for groups where you can dance with friends in co-op mode and work together to achieve a high score. A big part of what make’s Just Dance games entertaining is the interaction between the dancers, such as turning one dancer into a see-saw during Get Get Down – kudos to you if you manage this one! And even though kids can play along on any of the main songs, little Just Dancers have their own dedicated kids section. This contains 10 songs with colourful characters dancing to simple routines that will appeal to children of about 8 and under.
So – what’s new and exciting about Just Dance 2021 on Xbox Series X? Well, not much. With no properly new features, just new songs, Just Dance 2021 doesn’t come across as a completely new game – just an expansion pack to the previous one. Saying that, the new songs do show a better range of genres than the previous couple of titles and the free month of Just Dance Unlimited means that there is something to get everyone dancing over the festive season.