It is time to dance again with the dance sensation known as Just Dance. The newest iteration, Just Dance 4, looks to redefine the franchise and to bring the most diverse soundtrack ever to your living room. Can you teach an old dog new dance moves or has this song been played out?
Returning with the same gameplay that everyone has come to love, the first thing fans will notice is the change in presentation. No longer does it feel like a bad ’80s music video, instead opting for a new-age modern look that’s easy on the eyes and feels very slick to play with. New additions this time around include the Dance Card, which is located at the very end of the song list and can be customized with various avatars. This keeps track of your sweat points in Just Sweat mode, your dance score in Just Dance mode as well as your overall mojo progress. I also noticed that my dance card profile had been added to my old Just Dance 3 save, which is a nice little plus.
Just Dance and Just Sweat modes make their return, and do mostly what they used to before. Just Dance brings back the focus on hip swaying, leg moving and body-rocking party tunes for up to four people to dance along in your livingroom, while Just Sweat is a little bit more intense. Offering up warm-up and cool-down periods at the beginning and end of sessions, Just Sweat is perfect for staying in shape and working up a good glow. Gold moves, dance mash-ups and mojo also make a return to the series. Now certain songs in Dance or Sweat mode will randomly have a times two mojo multiplier icon, indicating that you can earn twice as many points during the song. It’s a nice touch that discourages you from sticking to the songs you know and love and instead try something that’s perhaps unfamiliar. And, just to ensure it’s success, Ubisoft have announced that that K-pop miracle ‘Gangnam Style’ by Psy will feature as DLC.
It’s not all the same though, some features have been given a little bit of a refresh. Instead of the random unlockables upon levelling up your mojo, you’ll now take part in a mini-game known as ‘Wheel of Gifts’ that allows you to pick your preferred reward when the wheel is spinning – which still adds a bit of randomness to proceedings. You can also unlock mash-ups, alternate choreographies and a brand new mode called Battle Mode. In this rather ominous sounding variation you’ll be pitted against the AI, a friend or maybe even a tag-team two on two battle. Your aim: score the highest in the two features songs across five rounds. You’ll have to dance to the opposing players song choice and the winner is determined in a best of five. It’s a rather cool new feature and adds something new to the proceedings – and should liven up any party. Dance quests have also been added to each song that grant you more mojo points by completing a set of in-song objectives, such as getting three stars or gold moves at certain points.
Just Sweat mode has also had a little bit of an overhaul that changes it from a daily routine into an aerobic style workout that can be accessed any time. You can participate in five different styles of dance workout: Aerobics In Space, which is described as “dynamic fitness steps”; Sweat Around The World, which features world music and more Latin America styled dance moves, and three more to make up that total – we don’t want to spoil all the fun of discovery by listing them here. Regardless of what style you choose, you’ll be able to choose the workout time that suits you best, each with an approximation of how many calories you’ll burn off during the time. Nicely, each song’s coach and style intensity is determined by how much effort you’re putting into the workouts. If you go in relaxed it’ll throw slower and easier songs at you, but if you go in raring to work up a sweat it’ll throw out intense combinations of songs and workouts. Sweat quests are also available, which are similar to their dance quest counterparts, except you’ll be sweaty.
Just Dance 4 has come a long way in a year, although it’s not all new features and great refinements. Karaoke mode is missing, Simon Says mode and Speed Mode have skipped the party, and it seems that many of the dance moves from Just Dance 3 have been stripped away. There’s no denying that Ubisoft have added a lot and improved overall gameplay, but these exclusions do raise questions if they’re being held back for DLC instead. Either way, what’s on offer is great fun and that’s what really matters with a game like Just Dance 4. It’s just a shame things feel like less, rather than more, in each yearly iterations.
Audio/Visual- 5/5: Great presentation and awesome audio, after all it is a music rhythm game. It also boasts a superb track list.
Gameplay –5/5: Still highly addictive, simple and fun. They managed to keep it that way while making it feel fresh
Innovation – 2/5: Added a few tweaks to goals and such but a lot was taken away as well. Only the new Battle Mode is worth noting.
Value – 3/5: At $39.99 it’s not a bad price for anyone out there, however you may want to hold off until it drops more if you’re already content with Just Dance 3.
Final Score: 3.5/5