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Review of Just Dance 2014 for Wii U

just dance 2014 box art

I’ve reviewed every Just Dance game since the original on in 2009. While I’ve given the spin-offs and rip-offs less-than-stellar reviews, the main games in the series (Just Dance and Just Dance 2, 3, and 4) have always gotten 5 out of 5 stars from me. While the basic mechanics of the game have been the same since the beginning, Ubisoft has done a great job of improving accuracy and adding to the feature set in each new version.

This iteration is no exception. Just Dance 2014 should really be called Just Dance 5, but Ubisoft has wisely veered off that numbering scheme and started to name the titles by year, given that they’re releasing a new version every year anyway. They’re covering all their bases by releasing it for the Wii, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, Xbox One, and PS4 all at the same time.

When you start out the game, the opening menu is simple as always. In the center of the screen is a recommended song you can start dancing to right away. You can also scroll to the right to select individual songs.

In the upper right-hand corner you’ll see a yellow icon with an “M” in it. These refer to your “mojo points”. The points system is much easier to understand now than in previous versions of Just Dance; here, they serve as “currency” that you can use to “purchase” locked items in the game.

One nice thing about Just Dance 2014 is that none of the songs themselves are locked–every song is playable from the get-go. Instead, what’s locked are different variations of the choreography that’s available on certain songs. Here are all the different variations:

    • Classic – The standard, default choreography, all of which are unlocked from the beginning.

    • On Stage – Multiple dancers interacting with each other in a “dance performance”, which are a lot of fun not only for the dancers but also for onlookers. These are each 10 points to unlock.

    • Extreme – These are more advanced dance routines, not for beginners. They’re 25 points to unlock.
    • Battle – This is a mode where you compete against another player in a “Street Fighter” like battle–the better you dance, the more you’ll increase your life line and decrease your opponent’s. These are 10 points to unlock.

    • Mash-Up – Here, different dance moves (and the original dancers) from other songs and from past versions of Just Dance are pieced together to form a unique dance. These are 5 points to unlock, or throughout the year you’ll be able to unlock one for free each month.
    • Sweat – Songs are choreographed with maximum exercise, fitness, and aerobic activity in mind. These are 10 points to unlock.
    • Sweat Mash-Up – A combination of Mash-Up and Sweat modes, these are 5 points to unlock.
    • Puppet Master – Like Mash-Up mode, except that a human is controlling which dance steps the players will dance next using the Wii U Gamepad.

  • Others – Several songs have very unique choreography. Gwen Stefani’s Rich Girl has a “Chair” dance. Far East Movement’s Turn up the Love has something called “Sumo”. And Nicki Minaj’s “Starships” lets you dance to the Charleston. Each of these are 50 points to unlock.

Dancer Card – One relatively new feature is the ability to click the upper right-hand corner to select or create a “dancer card”. This will allow you to provide your nickname, an avatar (you choose from a set of cute cartoon faces all blinking at you), your gender, and your age. The choices are 0-9, 10-14, 15-19, 20-29, 30-39, and 40+, a set of groupings that sort of reminds me of Logan’s Run (a joke that only folks who are 40+ will understand).

Once you set up your dancer card, when you click on it you’ll see at-a-glance your style (how accurate you are), your kCals burned in Sweat Mode, your favorite songs, your average star rating, and your online level. It’s nice not having to go by “Happy” or “Sunny” anymore.

The Dancing: The dancing itself works pretty much the same as past Just Dance games. Each song’s choreography is designed for 1-4 different players. If you’re playing with 2 or more players, each player will use his or her Wii remote to select a character to follow, and can also choose his or her dancer card so that statistics will be properly tallied. Each player then holds the Wii remote in his or her right hand and follows the on-screen dancer’s moves as if looking in a mirror.

The animation on screen, as usual, is usually done with tongue firmly planted in cheek. A zombie is dancing to Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”. The song “The Love Boat” is set to a scene of the eponymous cruise ship sinking in the background.

As with previous versions of Just Dance on the Wii, don’t expect the motion detection to be as precise as the Kinect, although it is impressive how accurate they’ve gotten it over the years.

The Wii U version makes nice use of the GamePad to include people who for whatever reason can’t (or won’t) participate in the dancing. Karaoke mode allows that person to sing along to the words (which are displayed on the GamePad screen), and if the singing is good, it’ll earn M points. Alternatively, the person holding the GamePad can use the GamePad’s camera to film the dancers in “Autodance” mode, which will produce a 30 second video that’ll be automatically edited in a stylized way and then can be saved or shared or uploaded to JDTV (see below).

Other options on the main menu include the following:

Just Sweat – This mode allows you to play several songs in a row for 10, 20, or 40 minute programs. You can also turn on “free mode”, which turns on a calorie counter that tracks you calories for any song in the game.

Shop – As you play the game, you’ll earn points, which are tallied by a yellow “M” in the corner of the screen. You can use these points to “purchase” unlockable content for the game. These include:

  1. Alternate Choreography. Here’s where you can unlock “On Stage” , “Extreme”, “Sweat” and “Battle Mode” choreography for songs. As of the launch of the game there are 24 of these to unlock, ranging from 10 to 50 points.
  2. Mash-Ups & Co. Here, you can download Mash-Ups and Sweat Mash-Ups of songs, as well as different Party Master modes. There are 77 of these to unlock, which should keep you pretty busy. All are 5 points to unlock, and there’ll be a “free one” to unlock each month of the year (as long as you’re connected online you’ll get a pop-up each month that alerts you to the free mash-up and avatar that’s available for you).
  3. New Songs. Unfortunately you can’t use your points to unlock new songs–you’ll need real money for that. Ubisoft cleverly weaved a list of purchasable songs into this menu so you’ll always be reminded of it when you’re unlocking content. They even offer a free song, Katy Perry’s Roar, for you to learn the download process (when you select a song you’re sent to Nintendo’s eShop to complete your purchase). When you buy a song, you’ll get avatars thrown in for free.

It’s really nice to be able to use the Wii Gamepad to navigate the store.

The World Dance Floor option will show up if you’re signed in. A number will show how many dancers are currently online. This is an interesting online mode where you can literally dance with players from around the world, earn points along the way, and even make friends. The good news is that you’re not personally identifiable, other than the name on your dancer card. There’s a countdown timer to “Happy Hour”, when you can earn extra points.

There are a number of activities on the Dance Floor. You can participate in dance offs against other players, you can dance to the same song with everyone in the group and see who’s the best, and you can vote on which song to dance to next. It’s a lot of fun, and it really adds a new dimension to dancing.

It is a little bit of a hassle to get online, as you need to login with your Nintendo ID, accept a network services agreement, and then if you want to access additional features you need to login (or set up) a uPlay ID and accept the Privacy Statement there. I did have a lot of trouble signing onto Ubisoft’s servers; I’d either get the message “The Ubisoft server is unavailable at this time. Please try again later” or the screen would say “working” but the status icon would just keep spinning and spinning until I had to reboot the Wii U. But when I did get through it was a lot of fun.

Finally, there’s another online feature called JDTV that consists of videos that other players around the world have uploaded. This was a feature available on the Xbox, but it’s now available with the Wii U when someone films the dancers in “Autodance”. You can view the most recent, the most popular, and featured videos, as well as your own.

Overall, I’m impressed yet again with this latest version of Just Dance. Every time I think the franchise is about the jump the shark, they make enough improvements to impress me yet again. The song list is a great mix of contemporary songs and oldies, there’s enough variation in choreography and collectible items to keep from getting bored, and the new points system to collect and “buy” items to unlock is much simpler to understand than in previous versions. The highlight, of course, is the new online features that let you compete and play with others around the world. it just adds a new level knowing that others around the globe are playing along with you.

Here’s a complete song list that lists artist, song name, number of dancers, and difficulty level of the classic choreography. They’ve done away with separate rating for difficulty and exertion, and have simplified it to easy, medium, and hard.

One Direction – Kiss You – 4 – Easy
Lady Gaga – Just Dance – 1 – Hard
George Michael – Careless Whisper – 2 – Hard
Kesha – C’mon – 2 – Medium
David Guetta ft SIA – She Wolf (Falling to Pieces) – 1  – Medium
The Girly Team – Flashdance-What a Feeling – 1 – Hard
Disney’s Aladdin – Prince Ali – 4  – Medium
Daft Punk ft. Pharrel Williams – Get Lucky – 2 – Medium
Jessie J ft. Big Sean – Wild – 1 – Hard
PSY – Gentleman – 1 – Medium
Robin Thicke ft. Pharrel Williams – Blurred Lines – 2 – Easy
Ray Parker Jr. – Ghostbusters – 4 – Medium
Gloria Gaynor- I Will Survive – 1 – Easy
Will.i.am ft. Justin Biener #thatPOWER – 4 – Hard
Daddy Yankee – Limbo – 2 – Hard
Ariana Grande ft. Mac Miller – The Way – 2  – Easy
Nicki Minaj – Pound the Alarm – 4 – Medium
Frankie Bostello – Love Boat – 1  – Medium
Olly Mira ft. Flo Rida – Troublemaker – 1  – Easy
Lady Gaga -Applause – 1 – Medium
Mick Jackson- Blame it on the Boogie – 4  – Easy
Imposs ft. Konshens- Feel So Right – 1 – Hard
Mungo Jerry- In the Summertime – 4 – Easy
Chris Brown – Fine China – 1 – Medium
Louis Prima – Just a Gigolo – 2 – Medium
Rihanna – Where Have You Been – 1 – Hard
Ricky Martin – Maria – 1 – Hard
Abba – Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight) – 1 – Easy
Dancing Bros – Moskau – 2  – Hard
Pitbull ft. Christina Aguilera – Feel This Moment – 1 – Easy
Wisin and Handel ft. Jennifer Lopez – Follow the Leader -1 – Hard
Village People – YMCA – 4 – Easy
Far East Movement ft. Cover Drive – Turn Up the Love – 2 – Hard
Bob Marley – Could You Be Loved – 2 – Easy
Nicki Minaj – Starships – 1 – Hard
Ruts hen Planeten – 99 Luftballons – 2 – Easy
Robbie Williams – Candy- 2 – Medium
Katy Perry – I Kissed a Girl – 1 – Medium
Bog Bog Orkestar – Isidora – 1 – Medium
Gwen Stefani ft. Eve- Rich Girl – 1 – Easy
Duck Sauce – It’s You – 1 – Medium
The Sunlight Shakers – Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In – 2 – Easy
Sammie – Misunderstood – 1 – Medium
Sunlight Express – Nitro Bot – 2 – Medium
Jason Derulo – The Other Side – 1 – Hard
Ivete Sangalo – Dancando – 1 – Medium
(Free download) Katy Perry- Roar

Five out of five stars. Highly recommended.

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