It’s been a while since I was among the masses getting wrapped in the fancy new games that allowed us to feel like rock stars, dancers or singers. I was always more of a Rock Band person being a guitar player but I also like to branch out and (perhaps after a beverage or two) like to think I can dance too. Just Dance 2021 might be full of tunes that I have never heard of before (and a few, thankfully, that I had) but that didn’t stop it being a reliably fun time, especially with the wife and kids.
Just in case you’ve not heard of Just Dance (yes, all two of you out there), it’s a series that seeks to get us up and moving to the beat, giving us live action video of dancers – super-imposed with all sorts of fantastic visual effects to liven things up – to follow along to various famous songs from across the last few decades. Naturally suited to a party setting (remember those?) it would often get even the most ardent of party poopers up and grooving thanks to its simple set up and encouraging feedback and gameplay.
Not a great deal has changed since the last entry I played a few years back, but then the formula is about as solid as it gets anyway, so why mess with it? Included in the base game are songs that will appeal to a newer, younger generation (Blinding Lights by The Weekend was a popular one with my children, as was Don’t Start Now by Dua Lipa), as well as stuff that old fogies like me will know (Without Me by Eminem and Temperature by Sean Paul). Even those songs I wasn’t aware of still managed to be fun to play thanks to some excellent choreography (if only you could see my clip from Que Tire Pa Lante…).
Just Dance 2021 works across generations, with a Series X version requiring the use of a smart phone app that replaces the Kinect functionality of the Xbox One version. I much preferred using Kinect though as not only do we get a little picture-in-picture image showing our positioning but I felt it did a better job at tracking my movements in relation to the dancing on screen. Plus, it’ll record clips throughout for you to laugh and upload if you like after the fact.
To play, all we need to do is follow along with the movements of our assigned dancer. Their left hand (we play in mirror, so this is followed with our right hand) is the key to look at, as that is the main aspect of the scoring – as long as we get that roughly right then we’ll score points. You’ll definitely need a good amount of space to get the most out of the game, especially if you’re playing with more than one or two people as some of the dances require some big movements, or even moving around each other. Having said that though, even in my fairly cramped front room we still managed to avoid whacking each other and the tracking was pretty solid throughout.
As you may expect, playing Just Dance 2021 can be quite the workout too. Much like Beat Saber, I found myself getting worn out after half hour of playing, though it is a far better way to exercise than going to the gym for me! Ubisoft have accounted for this, including a Sweat mode that tracks various stats to help us count things like calories burned etc. If you’re looking to try and move some of that “Lockdown weight” then playing this is a great way to track it as you go.
Just Dance Unlimited returns, and offers up hundreds of songs from the Just Dance history to play on demand. A 30 day trial is available to try out the service, though a daily/monthly/yearly charge ($2.99/$3.99/$24.99) applies after that. It’s a great add on if you’re looking for a good range of songs and will play daily, though if you’re only picking it up here and there then the base list of 43 songs will do most players for a while I’d imagine.
Just Dance 2021 is, as ever, a great party game experience that is simple to get into and encourages people of all skill levels to join in. Being able to use the Sweat mode to aid in your fitness journey is a great touch, while when using Kinect the video clips that are recorded never fail to get a laugh out of the room. Played without a camera it loses a little of its accuracy and charm, but it still manages to be a fun experience –provided you trust the players not to launch your phone across the room!
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.