When I was in high school, my friends and I would take turns going to each other’s houses after school to play Dance Dance Revolution, a game that has players flailing in a way that bears little resemblance to “dancing” but is incredibly fun nonetheless. We would laugh at each other and at ourselves, playing songs over and over to earn the coveted AAA.
Just Dance 2015 is the Dance Dance Revolution of, well, 2015.
Like the Just Dance games that came before it, Just Dance 2015 has brightly colored dance coaches, often wearing ridiculous costumes, guiding you through flamboyant music. Most of the songs are pop hits from this year (“Happy” by Pharrell Williams, “Maps” by Maroon 5) but there are some classics thrown in, too (“Holding Out For A Hero” by Bonnie Tyler, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell), as well as a few weirder tracks (“XMas Tree” by Bollywood Santa, for instance). You can see the full track list by clicking here. The game is rated E10+ for lyrics.
Tailored For Each Console
Different versions of this game have slightly different features in an attempt to tailor each experience to the abilities of each console. I played Just Dance 2015 for Wii U, which meant that I was able to play as the Party Master and use the Game Pad to design choreography for other players as they danced. It was fun to be Party Master, but not really as much fun as it was to dance. It is, however, a cool way to get five people playing at once.
The Wii U version also has a Karaoke feature that allows players to sing and dance at the same time. If you don’t already know the song, however, it is super hard to read the lyrics and follow the choreography at the same time. That said, I really liked having it as a feature. I could focus on the dancing myself and pass the Game Pad (which has the microphone) off to a friend who didn’t want to take the dance floor. The Karaoke feature and the Party Master feature both strike me as good ways to incorporate players who might have mobility issues. Unfortunately, the microphone in the Game Pad is not very sensitive, and I was often able to trick it by just humming or by speaking the lyrics monotonously. If I were to purchase the optional Wii U microphone, it might have worked better.
This lack of precision was a running theme for Just Dance 2015. Because I was playing with a Wii remote instead of with a Kinect or a PlayStation Camera, the game could judge me based only on the performance of my right arm. I found myself regularly ignoring my legs during dance sequences.
So, for players using the Wii and Wii U (as well as for anyone using PlayStation Move controllers), self-policing is going to be what makes this game a full-body experience.
That said, I’m really pleased that Ubisoft made the effort to make this game work on so many kinds of hardware. Ubisoft has even released a free app for smartphones that allows players on Xbox One or PlayStation 4 to play the game without any extra hardware at all. Your smartphone becomes a motion controller. This is the same technology that Ubisoft uses for Just Dance Now, a free game that uses a smartphone and a laptop instead of a TV and a console. There’s a lot less to do in Just Dance Now than in Just Dance 2015, but the two have a lot in common, so it might be an easy way to test out the basics without spending any money.
Just Dance 2015’s silly choreography and, at times, intricate group moves definitely had me entertained. This game yearns to be played in groups, and although there is some risk of players whacking each other in the face, it’s worth it for the laughs. Some of the songs, like “Tetris” by The Dancing Bros., involved group moves that I could see being a ton of fun at a party or during family game night. Just don’t hurt each other doing leapfrogs.
With a new feature called Community Remix, Just Dance 2015 puts a big emphasis on video capture. This allows players to record themselves dancing and then share their moves in the game with other players. A handful of lucky dancers then have their moves selected for that song’s Community Remix video, which everyone can dance along to. So, other players become your dance coaches, or you can become a dance coach to other players around the world. If you don’t have a camera for your console (Wii owners, for instance), you can record yourself on your own camera and upload the video to YouTube, where Ubisoft will still consider it for the final Community Remix video.
I like this feature, but to be honest it didn’t really do much for my experience. In games like this, I care about the people who are in the room with me. But I think it is a cute way for Ubisoft to get in touch with their community of gamers, so I like it in that respect. Before your kids upload a video of themselves dancing to One Direction, make sure you’ve talked to them about how visible their dancing could become to other players to make sure they’re clear about whether that’s something they want to do.
Another nice feature is the playlist creator, which lets you keep on dancing uninterrupted to a series of songs. Playlists incorporate an optional calorie counter. This feature isn’t unique to Just Dance 2015, but I like it nonetheless. While physical health is about a lot more than calories, I could see myself using this game as a short daily routine after work. It’s not exactly Anusara Yoga, but after eight hours sitting at a desk, I like to get moving a little.
Just Dance 2015 is a lot of fun. However, if you already own a dancing game for your favorite console, like Dance Central Spotlight or Just Dance 2014 (especially if you don’t play it very often), Just Dance 2015 may not be a smart investment. It doesn’t take the fantastic risks of motion game Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved, but instead fleshes out what was already a solid dancing experience with some cool new features and a new library of music. If you are looking for a new motion game to liven up your family game night, this one will work out just fine.