Even though it feels like just a few days have passed since we were saying goodbye to 2020, holiday season 2021 is already upon us and with that comes the latest incarnation of Ubisoft’s Just Dance franchise – Just Dance 2022.
After the pandemic limitations that were presented to Just Dance 2021, we are all keeping our fingers crossed that this year we’ll be able to gather with friends and family for a proper get-together and Just Dance 2022 looks like the perfect party game to celebrate the end of another year.
Just Dance 2022 is released with 40 new tracks including chart hits like Dua Lipa’s Levitating and Judas by Lady Gaga. International flavour comes in the form of Black Mamba by aespa and some classic tunes including the ‘80s hit Smalltown Boy by Bronski Beat and disco classic You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) by Sylvester. Just Dance 2022 has at least one track that will suit everyone’s taste and ability.
With the ability to unlock alternate versions of certain songs with different characters and backgrounds, or extreme versions that amp up the difficulty, there are enough tracks to keep you interested for a while. However, if you want more variety then the back catalogue of previous Just Dance games is available to you through the subscription-based Just Dance Unlimited. You get a free month’s membership with the game and with it, access to over 700 songs. Finding the perfect song is easy, with a search tab that utilises track name, singer, genre or even keywords.
For younger players there is the usual Kids area, which contains eight songs with colourful characters and simple moves which sees the tiny dancers dancing along with coaches in the guise of robots, bees, pirates and cooking cats.
Just Dance has been going since 2009 so inevitably visuals have improved year on year but Just Dance 2022 has seen a tangible leap in quality thanks to Ubisoft working in collaboration with various new studios. This allows you to experience Just Dance in a totally new way via a variety of creative and artistic talents. For example, in the track Mr Blue Sky, which was produced with the help of Clay Animation Studio, you follow along with the dancing of a clay animated panda as it moves between different parts of an elaborate tree house. Whereas in Sia’s Chandelier you are treated to an animated version of the real video as you dance with a girl as she splatters coloured paints in time to the moves. These mini-cinematic treats really are a special addition to Just Dance 2022 and will hopefully be a new feature going forward.
As well as these special collaborations, every track feels visually more exciting than before, with clearer visuals and more eye-catching backgrounds. The camera swooshes, pans and zooms in time to the music, which acts to make you feel like a dancer in a real music video.
Game controls are the same as previous games – you can use the controller to navigate menus, or connect your phone via the Just Dance Controller app. With this in your hand, you follow the moves of your on-screen coach and can anticipate upcoming moves using handy pictograms that appear in the corner of the screen. The game picks up how well you are doing by taking into account the movement of your phone, which you hold in your hand while you are dancing.
While you are dancing your performance is judged below your name. You can score ‘OK’, ‘Good’, ‘Super’ or ‘Perfect’. As always, and at least since the demise of Kinect, the game isn’t able to judge your moves with any real accuracy – your right hand just needs to move in time to the music and your legs could be doing anything you like. Just Dance 2022 is not ever going to be a dancing coach or judge but that’s not the point – it’s designed as a bit of fun and it has this in spades.
The ultimate party mode must be co-op. Here you can play with your friends in groups of up to six; at least if you have enough room for all those flailing arms and legs without damaging the decor.
If your motivation for playing Just Dance 2022 is more in line with that of getting fit then Sweat Mode is back. Here you can create your own routine to burn calories and track how well you are doing. Each song has an indicator next to the title to show you how intense it is and just how much sweat will be activated while dancing.
In World Dance Floor you can compete in a World Dance Floor Tournament live with players from all over the world. On joining you are sorted into a room according to your ability and dance to three tracks from Just Dance 2022 chosen by the game at random. Happy Hours occur every day and during these the entire Just Dance back catalogue comes into play.
Customisation comes in two forms. You can change up your dancer card with different avatars, skins (background) and aliases e.g. Greatest Dancer, Dressed to Impress, Fabulous. Each of which can be ‘bought’ using mojos – Just Dance’s in-game currency. Your avatar will be seen by others if you ever reach the heady heights of ‘Dancer of the week’ by being the person who has got the highest score in a song that week. You can also create your own custom playlists where you can save your favourite songs. This feature is a little less useful if you only have the 40 songs that come with the game but is invaluable if you have access to Just Dance Unlimited.
Mojos are earnt by performing well but they also come from completing Daily Challenges. These are designed to help you explore the different features of the game and range from dancing to a certain number of songs to activating different modes for the first time.
Just Dance 2022 doesn’t change up the tried and tested formula of Just Dance too much but what it has added in terms of improved visuals has made for a more entertaining and immersive experience. For the first time in a while, it has demonstrated the possibilities for this classic franchise going forwards.
You can pick up Just Dance 2022 from the Xbox Store