Some of you may deny it, but we have all danced around a living room at some point. Whether you busted a move in joyful celebration or did a drunken jig, no home is safe from random acts of dancing. We can’t all be the best dancers, but it’s still fun to move around to music in the privacy of your own home. Just Dance 2017 takes that joyful expression to a whole new level.
The gameplay is straight forward enough. Using your console’s camera, or PlayStation move controllers, or mobile app, you dance to the songs using a particular routine. An avatar in the center of the screen shows you the moves you should be recreating while a crawl along the bottom right gives you a heads up on the moves that are coming up. Get moves right and you earn points, eventually getting stars for your outstanding dancing.
I don’t own a PlayStation camera, or move controllers, so I was using just the mobile app. It really is pretty good. Sure, it can only pick up what you do with your right hand, but its approximations of how well you are dancing isn’t too bad. Plus, using the mobile app you can dance with more of your friends and not worry too much about all fitting within the camera’s field of view.
Be warned, though, the app will drain your battery faster than Nosferatu, so be prepared to recharge after about half an hour to an hour of gameplay. I also struggled with some connectivity issues; the app would work fine for a while, but then randomly claim that the phone was disconnected and I needed to reconnect. It’s not the biggest issue, and it never happened during a song, but it can be irritating. Plus, notifications can get in the way of your experience – when my phone was warning me of low battery, the app didn’t pick up any of my moves until I dismissed the notification.
Just Dance 2017 comes with a real range of music. The 40 songs included in the base game feature pop hits like PSY’s DADDY, Sia and Sean Paul’s Cheap Thrills and Shakira and Wyclef Jean’s Hips Don’t Lie. But there are also rock songs like Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now and J-pop like Hatsune Miku’s PoPiPo. My favorite song (although not necessarily my best scoring dance routine) was O-Zone’s Dragostea Din Tei – better known as popularized by the Numa Numa guy on YouTube. I was fairly impressed with the range of music, although even 40 songs can feel repetitive if people keep picking the same ones over and over again to dance to.
Just Dance 2017 comes with a 90-day trial version of Just Dance Unlimited, a dance-on-demand service that includes over 200 songs from previous Just Dance games, and promises to bring more new music on a regular basis. I really liked the offering, although I struggled to actually make use of it. The downloads from the server are slow even with a fiber connection, and I couldn’t manage to get through an entire song without the servers crashing on me, sending me back to the title screen. Should Ubisoft’s servers become more stable, it really is a cool service that would mean you could invite friends over for a dance party without all dancing to Justin Bieber’s Sorry all night.
Most people will probably make use of the classic gameplay modes, the one where you jump into any song and dance, maybe with a friend or two for a duet or a group dance. However, there are more modes included. You can also try out the Just Dance Machine, where aliens need to harness your energy to refill their spaceship’s batteries and return home. Yes, it is a really bizarre premise, and the gameplay is equally bizarre. You don’t dance to a whole song, but rather just perform different segments ranging from Ballet to Flamenco to Charleston.
There is also a Dance Quest mode, where players dance to three songs back to back against other AI competitors and strive to rank in the top 3. Sweat and Playlists lets you make a playlist or exercise routine of back to back songs where points are substituted with calories burnt as you literally dance your butt off. There is also a Just Dance World and Just Dance TV for those who want to share videos of their rad dance moves and challenge others to the ultimate international dance off. Or, you know, watch videos of people’s moms walking in while they’re trying to record.
As an adult, it’s easy to dismiss a game like Just Dance as silly cheesy gameplay that’s just for kids. And yet, as I grooved my way through Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae), I couldn’t help imagining how fun it would be to get my friends over for a party and make them play. It is silly, and yet it is fun. Sure, there are issues with servers, and the controls aren’t always the most accurate, but I honestly didn’t care – I just want to dance around my living room to mindless music, and rope my friends into doing the same.