Just Dance… it's gonna be okay.
There are so many hats I have to wear as a professional games writer, like World War veteran, puzzle expert, professional dancer, detective… sometimes I confuse them all into a big bowl of wibbly-wobby, gamey-wamey stuff. Ever met a dancing, deducing, puzzle-solving sharpshooter before? Well, you have now.
And I've only recently learned how to dance. But after a few rounds of Just Dance 2014, I think I'm all caught up on what the "kids" are doing nowadays. No more Charleston or Truffle Shuffle, no no no. Just good old-fashioned new-school popping and locking!
Just Dance 2014 is another in the lineup of faux dancers on the screen welcoming up to four people to perform to popular tunes like Psy's "Gentlemen" and Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams' "Get Lucky", with some classics thrown in like the themes from "Love Boat" and "Ghostbusters". There's a host of downloadable tracks of course, like Macklemore and Ryan Lewis doing "Can't Hold Us".
Many of the songs have multiple modes to choose from, as opposed to just the "Classic" performance of following the screen action to the beat. By collecting "mojo," players can unlock new routines, like the "Mash-Up" which brings in dance moves from other songs to fiddle with the difficulty and "Just Sweat", which has the song turn into a sort of Jazzercise routine of (*shudder*) fitness. And those sessions can get intense… at least it's enough to tell me I'm not running enough and that my being skinny doesn't mean I'm "in shape" at all.
That said, the faces are creepy. I'm sure that's been noted in other reviews of this franchise, but the faces are just unsettling at times. There's one girl with a black ponytail and a purple cropped cheerleader outfit with a face that not only looks drawn in (I know it's part of the art style), but smiles so large and awkwardly she might actually be performing in punishment. Have you ever seen that video of those little kids from the DPRK playing their guitars onstage, the guitars as big as they are, with their facial expressions never changing or even breathing? She's as unsettling as that. And she's not the only one… almost all of them are somehow uncomfortable to watch.
As far as the actual dancing, the Move controller seems to catch most of the moves, and the "special" moves unique to points in the songs cause the controller to vibrate so you know you've got them, which is a nice reminder. Following along is intuitive enough and—aside from wielding the controller—actually feels like dancing, so I can go hit the clubs now with peace of mind. The online play is what's kind of interesting to me, though; particularly, the idea of playing with people online and in teams. There isn't any team selection I was able to find, and playing was quick and easy to jump into. However, there's no way to make sure the teams are even, as it seems like whoever's got the larger group from an odd number of people is automatically going to win. Not fair.
But if you've played Just Dance before, you know you're playing for the music. And if you like the tracks here (I admit that Katy Perry's "Roar" is growing on me), then you'll be just fine wibbly-wobbling around with your friends. If you don't have any friends, then it's still a good exercise routine. I didn't find it as fun as Dance Central for Kinect, mostly because of the avatars giving me the heeby-geebies, but I suppose it'll do.