Just boogie right on past this one...
I've had a tumultuous, short-lived relationship with Just Dance 2014. My initial reaction was to just write it off as another cash-in rhythm game, but after seeing more of the game I decided that it might be right up my alley after all. No, I'm not hugely into pop music, but the game offered a surprisingly wide array of tracks and I figured that it just might make me a better dancer to boot. Unfortunately, that wasn't quite the case.
In order to maximize my enjoyment, I played Just Dance 2014 with a second player. Right off the bat neither of us were sure exactly what the game wanted us to do. Mimicking the exact movements of the on-screen dancer felt nigh impossible (at least for us nonprofessional dancers) and the indicator in the bottom right of the screen was more of a vague guideline than something that we could follow precisely. After a few more songs it became clear that Just Dance 2014 is more of a vague motion indicator than an actual rhythm based dance game. Before the night was up we were able to successfully play one handed while sitting on the couch.
Any basic movement seemed to satisfy the game, and just a simple jiggle of the Wii remote was enough to rack up a decent score. We could easily gain a more formidable score if we flicked our wrists just right. I certainly wasn't expecting a one-to-one dancing simulator, but this is just, in a word, pitiful.
Now, with that very basic complaint out of the way, I do want to emphasize that I found some brief, fleeting fun with the game. If you have a few friends that will commit to the basic premise, despite the fact that the game hardly tracks the actual dancing skills of anyone, then you can have a reasonably decent time watching each other flail around and arguing over who really deserved the highest score. This is where the biggest new mode, Party Master Mode, could have really made an impact, but it too fell short.
Party Master Mode gives one player the ability to choose each dance move that the other players will have to perform, but the timer between choosing moves is frustratingly short. This means that after picking an especially embarrassing dance move, you have to immediately worry about your next choice, when all you'll probably want to do is take a moment to laugh at the dance move you've subjected the dancers to. Just adding a few more seconds between choices could have improved the mode, but at its core, it's a fun, albeit badly executed idea.
All complaints aside, the game does provide a decent array of old and new songs, and the on-screen visuals can be fun to watch. Not every song can be played in every mode, which is disappointing, and several modes are locked behind paywalls requiring you to accrue in-game currency before you can access them. If your friends are willing to commit to the experience then you may have some fun, as I did, but it was fun that I had in spite of the game’s features instead of because of them.
Anybody looking for a decent rhythm game will likely be disappointed with the inaccuracy, and anybody looking to improve their dancing skills with realtime feedback would probably be better served just purchasing a dance video. I’m sure that this will be a regular attendee at many parties, and perhaps that’s the kind of environment Ubisoft had in mind when they crafted it. But, facts are facts, and the facts are that Just Dance 2014 is a very pretty frontend tacked on to a glorified dance video.