Wow. It has been a VERY long time since we reviewed a dance game here on Nerdly. So long ago that it was actually during our pre-Nerdly days as Blogomatic3000 that we last took at look at this small gaming sub-genre ( a genre that wasn’t that small back then). In fact the last games were both for the Kinect when it debuted: Just Dance 3 and Dance Central 2, waaaaay back in 2012. Why? Well to be fair we do love our rhythm games – Singstar, Just Sing, Rock Band, Guitar Hero et al., but I’ve never been a that much of a fan of dancing games.
However, despite not being as popular as they were around the time of the Wii, there are folks out there who still love dance games to this day. After all, it’s a genre that has survived the move away from casual gaming and into this current generation of consoles. Of course to survive one must adapt and now these move-based games have taken things a step further with the next generation of controller. Gone is the Kinect, or the camera and motion sensor combo, and in comes using your mobile phones to track your dance moves! OK, so I say gone, but you can still use the traditional methods to play the game – including the Wiimote for all of you Wii gamers still out there – but allowing gamers to play with their smartphone is a smart move (pardon the pun). No longer do you need to buy expensive add-ons, just download the app!
Just Dance 2017 comes at an interesting time for the franchise. Last years game wasn’t that well-received and many in the gaming press thought Ubisoft had finished with physical releases of the game when Just Dance Unlimited, a subscription based version of the game which allows players to access songs from past games as well as some exclusive to the Unlimited platform. So why release yet another physical version of the franchise? It’s a good question. My only thought is that Just Dance 2017 will be available at retail for less than the £39.99 yearly subscription – and it comes with a three-month trial of Unlimited as well! Which makes this game more of a taster to get gamers “hooked” on that yearly sub and the massive online music catalogue…
Speaking of music, Just Dance 2017 has a wide variety of music for gamers to dance to – from older songs such as Beyonce’s Single Ladies and Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now; to newer pop hits from DNCE, Fifth Harmony, Major Lazer and Justin Bieber. The game even throws in some obscure (at least to UK-based music fans like me) international music and even a song from musical avatar Hatsune Miku – thank god then for the free Unlimited package, which opens up the musical roster to some, lets just say, more familiar musical acts.
Having not played any new entry in the series since 2012 it’s interesting to note that nothing has really changed in the genre. Yes there are new songs to dance to and yes, there are some new ways to play: including Quests, World Dance Floor and Machine, but nothing TOO different from previous iterations… However of the game modes Machine is definitely the oddest (dancing to power a UFO anyone?) and reminded me very much of the rhythm games found on the Nintendo DS, adding a “story” to the on-screen dance action. It’s different for sure, but it’s not a game mode that players will be coming back to time and time again.
For me, adding the new smartphone feature to the controls is the real star of Just Dance 2017. Being able to use your phone as a tracking device, and one that provides some extra interaction with the game, is a fantastic way to play – even if it does drain that phone battery like there’s no tomorrow!
Just Dance 2017 is out now on Playstation 4, Xbox One, Wii U and Wii now.