It’s that time of year once again. No, we’re not talking about holiday pressures and stresses, as it’s time to throw your arms in the air like you just don’t care thanks to Ubisoft’s Just Dance 2021.
If you’ve played the series – now in its eleventh year – previously, then getting into this will be like catching up with an old friend. It’s more of what you know, with very little in changes this time around, save for the fact that we’re now playing on the brand new era of consoles.
That means we’re relying on clutching our phone, running the Just Dance Controller app, in order for the game to register our moves. Why the DualSense motion controls aren’t utilised is something that only Ubi can answer. Anyway, with the app running we booted the game and it synced up almost instantly with no dramas. You just have to ensure that both phone and console are hooked into the same Wi-Fi network, which isn’t a particularly hard ask.
“…the music is great… as long as you like recent chart stuff.”
So far so good. Now, what do we get to shake our booty to? 40 new tracks are on offer this year, basically running a finger down the 2019 year-end charts and putting big ticks against bangers from the likes of Tones and I, Billie Eilish, Lizzo, The Weeknd (we guess they thought it clever to drop an ‘e’…) and Dua Lipa, along with this year’s dynamic duo of Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande. A top addition is Eminem’s Without Me, one of very few older tracks worth mentioning.
This brings us to our usual complaint with Just Dance releases, which is that the music is great… as long as you like recent chart stuff. In its earlier days, the franchise showed a bit more spunk, mixing in indie tunes and classics from previous decades, Now it’s more like “Oh, we’ve got both kinds, chart pop and chart pop!” This is where the subscription service Just Dance Unlimited becomes a necessity, adding some 550-plus tracks that offer a bit more variety. A bit. A free 30-day trial comes with this year’s model (although for reasons unknown we couldn’t connect to Ubi’s servers to get it up and running).
If you’re after a bunch of new additions to change up the formula then you’ll be left wanting, although there’s a big one to help keep the party going when you have indecisive types in your midst. This is a quick play mode that just picks a song and sends you straight into it – so, no faffing about umming and aahing as to what to play.
Otherwise it’s basically business as usual. The ickily named ‘Sweat Mode’ counts calories burned, the fun mode especially for kids returns, and the ‘World Dance Floor’ has been tweaked to be a little more welcoming, even offering up happy hours here and there. Meanwhile, those who like to collect stuff will enjoy spending in-game credits on the gift machine booty such as stickers, aliases and avatars.
If you simply have to get down to the latest chart stuff then it’s definitely worth upgrading to Just Dance 2021. If you’re in it for the more classic stuff though, you may find sticking with Just Dance 2020 and grabbing a Just Dance Unlimited subscription a cannier option.
Just Dance 2021 is available now on PS5, Xbox Series X|S/One, PS4 and Switch.