It’s back! And it’s zanier than ever: the latest iteration of Just Dance has hit our shelves just in time for the summer holiday and, er… potential re-lockdown restrictions. If you’re staring down the barrel of long days with family members in confinement, never fear, the wonderfully wacky rhythm/dance game is here to save you. And if you just like to shake your money-maker or bop in time to your favourite hits, then Just Dance 2022 has got you covered too. Although the formula remains much the same as it has over the last 13 years, this year’s new songs and variety of modes mean it’s a great first buy, however, probably not enough to persuade owners of previous editions to splurge for the latest one.
It makes no difference what level you come in at, it’s easy to get into and very addictive.
I love dancing. It’s just delightful, although I admit to not really being that good at it or really knowing what I’m doing. That’s what I absolutely love about this game – it makes no difference what level you come in at, it’s easy to get into and very addictive. There are dances for beginners and pros; a variety of styles and paces; and the ability to repeat as many times as you like or pause halfway through if you need to catch your breath. You get a real high: both from the endorphins rushing through your brain due to the physical activity as well as a sense of satisfaction seeing your score and the number of moves you got right increase. It really makes you want to go back again. If you’re competitive, you can dance off against friends, family, and online players alike. If you like everyone to be a winner, there is a cooperative mode. And if you like to burn those calories, there’s sweat-mode too. For me, I like all these modes. I love that I can dance on my own, either challenging myself or just goofing around; or I can go head-to-head in an epic battle of wits, wills and…sometimes just really good wrist-work.
It’s true that Just Dance has been around for a really long time now. The look and feel of the game have remained pretty consistent. The wild variety of musical genres remains the same too – as do the outrageous costumes and outfits worn by the team of pro dancer characters you copy on-screen. It’s fun, it’s light and, if we’re honest, a little repetitive. There’s not much new to report on here. This year’s rendition has changed up the camera angles though, and so instead of all the dancers being filmed as if they’re standing on a 2-D stage, the camera in some songs seems to move around. We’re not just talking zooming in and out. Nor do I mean how the characters sometimes ‘jump’ or ‘float’ onto different computer-generated ‘stages’. This time, in a few of the songs with single dancers, the camera really does move and has different angles of the dancer. While this is visually pretty funky, I found it made copying a little trickier, especially the first time round as I wasn’t expecting the changes in angle. This time too, the faces of the on-screen characters were far clearer and I could make out more distinct faces than the past years’ editions. Previously, only lips were discernable with vaguely visible noses and eyes. Now, these features are far more distinct. In one of the songs, the characters weren’t even disguised. They were a real trio filmed normally with a straight on camera in what looked like a basement with very white walls and strong, clear lighting – probably the crib where all the super cool dancers normally hang out. I felt like I was transported into their world to dance with them… only it was a super tough song and I kinda sucked. Very impressive to watch them, though.
A slightly annoying feature was that the on-screen dancer was lip-syncing to the songs
Another somewhat surprising and, to me, slightly annoying feature was that a lot of the songs with a single singer had the dancers on-screen lip-syncing to the songs as they danced. It was a bit like gate-crashing a music video being sung by someone other than the original artist. It seemed like an unnecessary change to me. Each song now also starts with the name of the song emblazoned across the screen in a font that matches the art style of the dance (in case you missed what song you were dancing to after having specifically seen the name of the song in the menu, chosen said song, and heard part of the chorus of said song while choosing which dancer to copy). Seemed a strange and unnecessary addition to me but not offensive enough to deserve a rant. What does make me want to rant is that we were restricted and unable to take our own photos. So the ones you see here were provided by Ubisoft.
The Just Dance franchise does a really good job of trying to source music from all sorts of cultures and languages. This year there seemed to me to be more K-pop than previous years – which I guess makes sense seeing that the world has gone K-crazy (have you seen all the K-dramas, -comedies and -romances available on Netflix alone these days? If you haven’t, I’m sure at least ‘Squid Games’ has come onto your radar). There was even some local representation with the inclusion of our very own South African hit Jerusalema. I love being exposed to songs in other languages and from other countries. It gives the game an international feel and means that not everything has the same sound formula. Speaking of formulas though, this year’s menu has been repeated which means it’s pretty easy to work with if you’ve owned previous editions and, it’s not too difficult to get the hang of if you’re new. There are also no new additions to the Kid’s mode – so while these songs are cute and awesome for anyone under 10, if you got Just Dance 2021 there is disappointingly nothing new here… unless you opt to pay extra for Just Dance Unlimited (the online streaming service that gives you access to about 600 dance tracks for both kids and adults and is seriously awesome).
Speaking of things online – this year when you enter World Dance Floor you don’t just dance to one song at a time. You get graded as to your level/ability and then join a group with the same level. Then you dance to three songs in a row to determine who the best dancer of your group is. It was good fun with a great variety of song combinations.
I played this year’s Just Dance iteration on PS4. I had previously tackled it for the first time on the Nintendo Switch back in 2018. With the Switch version, you hold one of the joy-cons in your right hand and the game picks up your movements and matches it to what the on-screen dancer is doing – giving you points for when you’re in sync. With the PlayStation versions, you can either purchase PlayStation Move controllers or just download the app on your smartphone and use your phone as a controller. I did the latter. It pairs pretty easily and remains connected to the platform even if you receive What’s App messages while playing. My phone is not particularly big but it is bigger than a Switch joy-con. The joy-con also has a strap so that if you lose grip of the joy-con, it won’t go flying across the room. I was a little worried about dropping my phone. It didn’t happen and I think it’s highly unlikely to do so, but I did get a bit of a hand cramp from clutching onto my phone quite tightly for 30 minutes straight – which is not something I remember getting when I used the lighter Switch joy-cons.
I was a little worried about dropping my phone
All in all, I really liked my jaunt into Just Dance 2022. I’m a fan of the series, think they have a lot to offer for first-timers and are a heck of a lot of fun. This year’s offering doesn’t shake things up too much but I guess if you have a winning formula, don’t mess with it.