Review: Just Dance 2017 (PS4)
I’m going to confess. I’ve never played a rhythm based video game before. So I really didn’t know what to expect when I was handed a copy of Just Dance 2017. I’ve been playing games for a very long time, and being thrown out of my comfort zone and being forced to be a controller instead of using one, was a bit of a daunting prospect. Surprisingly, the experience was kinda enjoyable… kinda.
Getting it to work
The moment you load up the game, you’re greeted by some pop music and an option to select your input method. Your options include a smartphone (using the Just Dance app), a PS Camera and a PS Move controller. I didn’t find the Dualshock 4 as an option, so I went with the Just Dance app, which I downloaded on my Android phone.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t get it to work, as the inputs and UI are just plain horrible. So after fiddling with it for about 20 minutes, I decided to go back and look for the Dualshock 4 option again, which was once again missing, so I opted for the PS Camera, which fortunately works very well, but it’s not without its flaws.
I’m a bit limited when it comes to space, so getting far enough back in order for the camera to pick up my whole body wasn’t an option. The best I could do was about 2 meters away from the camera, which is the absolute minimum that Just Dance 2017 requires, and with that, I ended up with my knees cut off on the camera. My concern is that a lot of people with smaller apartments or flats might experience some space issues like I did. The only saving grace for me was that it turned out that having two left feet didn’t really factor into my dancing.
Thrown in the Deep end
So after the initial setup, I was asked to set up a Dancer profile, with a name, avatar and a brightly coloured background, and that is how ‘SirDanceNot’ was born! This is all very simple, but right after that you’re told to dance. This threw me off guard and I almost expected a sort of a tutorial on how to get going and how to set things up, but nope, not in this brightly coloured neon world! Here you’re expected to dance straight off the bat!
The menu seems simple enough to navigate, but it doesn’t really explain anything. It’s almost like you’re thrown into the world of Dark Souls and told to go, only a lot less depressing and deadly. The modes you select do not really tell you what your doing, or going to do, and it’s almost expecting you to know what is happening – as if you’ve played a previous entry in the franchise. While it’s not too hard to figure out what’s going on, it can be a bit confusing at first, and it came forth as a case of bad game design, which was the same case with the app – go figure.
So how is the dancing?
Not bad actually. The motion tracking of the camera works really well. What really impressed me is how it seemed to adapt to my skill level, so I didn’t feel like an absolute loser for not getting any score, which if I was to be honest, would’ve been the case in real life. It also seemed to be adapting to my skill level, where it would give me Perfect and Good scores for my lazy dancing moves in the beginning, but started penalising me for the same lazy stuff as I started getting the rhythm of it. But overall, I was impressed by it and really not what I expected.
Just Dance 2017 does offer a few modes and fair amount of songs, but some of it seems to be locked behind DLC, which can be expected, but that doesn’t mean the selection on offer isn’t decent enough, provided you like the kind of music. The modes include the standard “Just Dance” mode, where you select a song, dance and get a score. You repeat that throughout. You also get a Workout mode, where you can set a playlist and get some decent exercise in. These modes are very basic, and does just what its supposed to, which is to dance.
Two mode that intrigued me however was Dance Machine and Just Dance TV, the latter being a collection of people uploading clips of themselves dancing and making me feel inferior. It’s fascinating to watch, but unfortunately buffering and loading is a bit of a factor.
Dance Machine is probably the most fun and varied. In it, you are tasked to charge the spaceship of aliens through the power of Dance, in order for them to go home. What makes it cool is that it gives you a bunch of random things to do, like playing air guitar, conducting a symphony or doing a ballet. The poor buggers unfortunately never got home, since they kept wanting me to twerk, and I’m sorry, I still have some dignity in me.
The music drove me mad
There are a few cool songs in the music library of Just Dance 2017, but unfortunately, most of it is just Pop nonsense which I battled to listen to. While I realise it has its popularity for a reason, and the loads of people listen to and like this kind of music, I just don’t want to listen to it. If more rock songs were on offer I might have been a bit happier about it, but I was over it by the forth song filled with high-pitched oohs and ahs.
Who will really enjoy this game?
I find it very hard to recommend Just Dance 2017 to most gamers out there. Most of us prefer to sit down, grab a controller and immerse ourselves in the worlds presented to us. Just Dance 2017 is not that sort of experience, and the average gamer won’t be bothered, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its market.
Just Dance 2017 is a party game. It’s for people who have their friends over for a game night of Monopoly, karaoke and some dancing games. It’s for parents who want to entertain their kids on the summer holiday. It’s a social game, there’s a lot of emphasis on that, and it excels in that department. You just have to watch a few of the Just Dance TV videos to realise that. Yes, its not my type of game, and its not perfect, but it works, and for fun and laughter with friends and family, you will be hard-pressed to find a better video game than this.