It’s back and this time the release of Ubisoft’s annual dance-fest game has been perfectly timed with many people finding themselves indoors looking for ways to pass the time.
Let’s get this out of the way first; the latest Just Dance isn’t a radical departure from the 2020 or even 2019 entry in the series. It does, however, mark the first time the developers have been able to concentrate on the outgoing and current gen machines, making the Switch version look far more detailed in dance routines and backgrounds than it did before. The general tidy-up doesn’t extend to the menus, though, or to any brand new modes. This is Just Dance 2020 with brand new songs and a new lick of paint.
While the other platforms also host the latest Just Dance, now including Stadia on that list, Nintendo still feels like the perfect partner with the Switch Joycons acting as a more accurate version of the Wii Remote used in the very first game way back in 2006. The control scheme has been refined with tweeks that make it easier to follow the on-screen silhouetted dancers movements and while accuracy has never been completely essential in the series, it does a good job of tracking movement and even allows for sharing the floor with another dancer on the standard Switch console thanks to the 2 Joycons included with the console.
For other platforms (and Switch, should you want friends to join in on your dance-fest) you can add mobile phones to use as a controller by downloading the free Just Dance app. I’m not sure about waving an expensive phone around given the lack of a lanyard and the generally slippy nature of my hands after several sweat-inducing dances, but at least it’s a good alternative.
The main difference between this and previous games, as it has always been, is the track list. This year features another diverse line-up from the catchy pop fare of Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande with Rain On Me, The Weeknd’s catchy Blinding Lights and Dua Lipa’s Don’t Start Now to the classics like Samba de Janeiro and some left-field but welcome tracks such as Eminem’s Without Me. It’s perhaps not quite the family friendly mix of some of the past track listings but these tracks certainly get you moving.
Alongside the main dance mode are a new Quick Play dance mode which plays random songs until you quit or fall down with exhaustion (might just be me) and the now familiar Kids Mode with its own set of kid friendly and mostly instrumental songs plus the fantastically energetic colourful backgrounds. I was hoping for something a bit more meaty after a few years of bare-bones extras or a story mode like last year, but it’s a little disappointing to find that there hasn’t really been an attempt to expand the 2021 game any further.
World Dance Floor is back and slightly adjusted to make it fairer for those new to the global tournament by matching your experience level to others. The mode pits you against the rest of the world in a 3 song dance off and it’s a great way to expand the game beyond the living room, though it would be even better as a live one-on-one.
The online only Just Dance Unlimited returns, too, with a vast selection of songs from the past entries and some new tracks as well. It’s still a subscription model but priced fairly enough to make it worthwhile buying in to if you like to have a much wider selection of music available. Things have been improved on the streaming front from what I can tell, it’a a much smoother experience now and faster to get into a song. If you haven’t tried this before there’s a 30 day free trial in order for you to test the Unlimited service out and you can always opt for a single day or week’s access if you’re planning a party.
While not really expanded in any way beyond the graphical brush up and continuous Quick Play, Just Dance 2021 is still the only game that can get you up and dancing and, to its credit, Ubisoft’s dance game is still one of the most fun party games out there. If you’re a fan of the songs on the track list or fancy the challenge of the new non-stop Quick Play mode then this is a solid choice.