While Just Dance 2021 is not a huge step forward for the series, it refines the gameplay and makes lots of quality-of-life improvements.
The Just Dance series has been going strong for more than a decade now. The original game released in 2009 for the Wii, but the franchise has now expanded to practically every platform imaginable. Developed and published by Ubisoft, it has become one of the company’s most successful titles and now sees annual releases. Just Dance 2021 is the latest installment and a first for the series, with this new edition not releasing for the Wii. That, along with the latest improvements and additions to the series make this a new era for the Just Dance franchise.
For those who are unfamiliar with the Just Dance series, the gameplay revolves around mimicking the actions of the on-screen instructor. Matching the movements of the example dancer awards points, with higher scores reserved for those who manage to copy the dance moves most accurately. There’s no need to press any buttons outside of the menus, with the motion of the controller providing all the feedback to the game so it can determine the score. While this might seem like an imprecise system, it works surprisingly well and captures player movements accurately enough to feel fair.
Just Dance 2021 actually supports up to four players, with certain songs specifically designed to be played in multiplayer as a party game. Some songs will have everyone doing the same dance, but others have separate dancers for every player, each with their own unique routine. These tracks can often be the most fun as they involve directly interacting with the other players. Those who want to try out multiplayer are given a few options as Just Dance 2021 supports both the Joy Con controllers and smartphones.
One nice inclusion for some players will be the kid-friendly mode. This adds some cute mascots to the presentation rather than just relying on the standard dancers. It also removes some of the more risqué lyrics and keeps everything very PG. Considering how Just Dance 2021 is definitely a game that is a great choice for playing with youngsters, this option is very welcome and something that other similar titles should take note of. It’s also a great way to keep kids active, as Just Dance 2021 can be a good video game workout.
In total there are 40 songs in Just Dance 2021, with a wide variety of artists and genres represented. Every player should find something to like, whether it’s Eminem, Billie Eilish, or Dua Lipa. Thankfully, the library is also made up of recent tracks, such as The Weeknd’s chart-topping “Blinding Lights, or classic tunes like “In The Navy” by Village People. While the base game certainly has a great range of songs, users can also expand the offerings with Just Dance Unlimited. The service provides access to more than 500 songs and there’s even a 30-day free trial.
The sequel includes a variety of improvements, although nothing is completely groundbreaking. The visuals appear more vibrant than ever before and graphics and animations are a higher quality. There are also fewer technical issues – loading times are reduced and songs stream from Just Dance Unlimited quicker than in previous titles. The game will even automatically transfer save data from Just Dance 2020, including profiles and high scores.
Outside of those quality-of-life improvements, though, Just Dance 2021 can feel more like an annual sports title that is simply updating the library of songs on offer rather than introducing any real gameplay evolution. Most of the UI is the same as the last few entries and there are no new game modes to freshen things up. What Ubisoft has refined works incredibly well and this is without a doubt a better game than its predecessor but it feels like a missed opportunity to really move the franchise forward.
Whether Just Dance 2021 is worth purchasing will depend entirely on how players felt about the previous title. Those who love the series will find plenty of little improvements and a great library of new songs and dance routines. More casual players might find it isn’t worth splashing out on the latest release when they can happily stick with the older game, especially with Just Dance Unlimited providing such a wide array of extra tracks. However, anyone who has been looking for the perfect opportunity to jump in and try out the series will find no better time than now.
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Just Dance 2021 is available now for Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One. A version for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S is due to launch on November 24. Screen Rant was provided with a digital Nintendo Switch copy of the game for the purposes of this review.
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