Dazzling style takes centre stage in the Just Dance franchise, and this certainly hasn’t changed with Just Dance 2014. The pop-culture vibe is evident, the neon lights are still blinding, and the overall light-heartedness will satisfy Just Dance fanatics and newcomers alike, but it’s a new focus on fitness is that elevates the series to an unexpected level of fun and added value.
The features the series is known for are in full effect here. The wacky choreography, sharable videos, numerous Top-40 and pop culture hits, plus the popular dance-offs are all here. Oh, and we can’t forget about those video clips that automatically play after every song, displaying your performance in all its pride-sucking glory, (you can actually turn them off if you’d like, thank goodness). Added to the game’s repertoire of modes is the online World Dance-Floor, where players join a virtual crew and compete in different themed events like Boys Vs Girls, or Crew Vs Crew.
Alongside the expected features, a heavier emphasis on fitness through the help of a calorie counter suddenly minimizes the silliness the series displayed in the past. Without trying to do too much with the fitness aspect, it actually becomes a satisfying experience witnessing the amount of energy you’re expending during a routine, which you can enable outside of the Just Sweat modes. During Just Sweat routines, you have the option of creating playlists which last 10 to 45 minutes, and act as endurance runs as you dance for the duration of your playlist. Combined with the calorie counter, the Just Sweat mode becomes a simple, yet impressive conditioning tool that can really push you. The On-Stage mode also allows you to feel the burn as you try and mimic a pop star’s act - you have the option of singing along - with two backup dancers. It’s great to goof off with friends during the On-Stage mode, but it’s also a perfect way to put your skills to the test and show the rest of the world that you can bust-a-move just as well as Psy can.
The majority of songs found in JD2014 are playing on the airwaves today from the likes of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and One Direction; however, the game does a decent job incorporating charming classics, from the Ghost Busters theme to a Prince Ali mash-up from Disney’s Aladdin. The song list is deep, but can grow even larger as you unlock new tracks by completing dance routines and gaining Mojo points, or by purchasing them from the online store. A variety of choreography that even includes chair dancing adds another layer of engrossment, offering players something a little different from the standard hand waving and fancy footwork.
You may be frustrated at times as you come just short of a few measly points after a dance routine, therefore preventing yourself from unlocking something new due to the Kinect’s inability to properly track you occasionally. However, the game is very forgiving with its scoring, allowing you to put little effort into performing routines and still complete a song, so the infrequent hiccups on the Kinect’s part can easily be overlooked.
If you're looking to learn how to become a better dancer, you may want to look into Dance Central. Its detailed choreography breakdowns and practice moves offer more in terms of helping you actually improve, but as a party game you cannot go wrong with Just Dance. It’s not subtle, and the neon lights combined with the game’s cheery nature can easily give one the impression that only mindless fun awaits in JD2014. Though this is still true for the most part, the Just Dance franchise has certainly upped its game with their latest installment mainly through a heavier focus on fitness, and as a result delivers a surprisingly well-rounded experience that’s supremely fun on and offline.