Just Dance 2014 is the latest game to enter the motion controlled dancing market. Like its predecessors on Xbox 360, Just Dance 2014 is controlled completely through Kinect. With the release of the next generation consoles and new motion peripherals on the horizon, is it possible for this incremental upgrade to make any sort of impact?
Just Dance 2014 maintains the traditional Just Dance formula, mimic the dancers on screen and be awarded in a score such as “Perfect” or “Good” depending on how well you did. Those scores fill up a bar that awards you with stars. The amount of stars you can earn in a single dance session varies but it is usually five. From there you can unlock new modes for songs, such as a fitness based dance or a random mash up to keep you on your toes. Some songs require quicker and more precise movement, so there are four difficulty modes from “Easy” to “Extreme”.
As for how it actually functions with the Kinect, It works well with a few hiccups. Making simple to moderate movement for a breeze for the sensor to pick up, but when it comes to the more specific moves with a lot of movement, the Kinect can trip up on itself. The feature that is most appreciated from Kinect, is the quite literal “Jump in” Co-op. When dancing in a single player dance, your friend merely needs to get into view of the sensor and they are in the game. Although this is not a new function of Kinect, I feel that I am obligated to mention when it works without a hassle.
Aside from your traditional dancing experience, there are two other modes to experiment with. The first is a fitness overlay. When this is active, you do not just earn stars for dancing, but there is a calorie tracker as well. For those of you looking for a workout routine on top of a dancing game, this may just be it! The next mode, The World Dance Floor, is Just Dance 2014’s take on competitive multiplayer. Simply put, you enter a lobby filled with other players and compete to a track on a universal playlist. It is fun if you are a really competitive dancer, but in the end, it may be more fun to pick and play your own songs.
What is dancing without music? The songs definitely allow for a variety of dance moves, but it fails to bring a variation in genre. There are some songs, like The Ghostbusters Theme and I Will Survive, that bring a slight diversity to the list but don’t expect too much of that, because most of the tracks are modern day pop songs. There are a lot of songs that have been added, so much in fact, that there is already DLC songs available. Due to time constraints or lack of resources, some songs were not able to make it on the disc. A free download is fine, appreciated even. They even do this with Katy Perry’s Roar, but if you want the other tracks released on day one, expect to pay extra.
Something that has always been appealing to me personally, is the visual esthetic of the Just Dance games. I am pleased to say that it looks better than ever. The colorful and exaggerated dancers look amazing and the background to the dances are fantastically constructed. Inspired by pop culture, everything about this game oozes visual delight.
Let us get one thing abundantly clear. This game does very little new. Its main focus is providing the player with a new set of dance tracks, and it strives to maintain a formula that has been proven to work. There are many games that do this such as Call of Duty and every sports title. But, none of these offer it for the low price of $40. At $20 less than typical console games, this is an incremental upgrade that knows what it is and does not attempt to masquerade as anything more.