Just Dance 2016 Review (XONE)

Plus Just Dance Disney Party 2 XONE Impressions

Just Dance 2016 box
Just Dance 2016 box. Ubisoft
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Kinect on Xbox One is finally officially dead as a game control device and it was Ubisoft, easily the biggest third-party supporter of the unit, that delivered the death blow.  The Just Dance games were the last things keeping it relevant, but Just Dance 2016 doesn't even require Kinect to play it.  Instead you can just gyrate around with a smart phone in your hand and the game tracks it.  If you do still want to play with Kinect, the game is just as solid and accessible as ever, but the era of Kinect is clearly over.

   It's a sad / happy day. 

Game Details

  • Publisher:  Ubisoft            
  • Developer: Ubisoft
  • ESRB Rating: “E10" for Everyone 10+
  • Genre: Dancing
  • Pros:  Solid and fun gameplay; use controller on menus; appealing presentation
  • Cons:  Kinect is an afterthought now; using a smart phone to dance is sorta lame

Features

Just Dance 2016 does a couple of new things that set it apart from the previous entries, but also paint a clear picture of where the series is going in the future.  The first is, obviously, the fact that Kinect is now totally optional.  You don't need to own Kinect to play it.  Even if you have Kinect, you navigate the menus with a standard Xbox One controller or a smart phone and can't use Kinect on the menu even if you wanted to.  That is weird.  For gameplay you can either use Kinect or you can instead download a smart phone app and "dance" with your smart phone in your hand and the game tracks it.

 

Considering that Just Dance has never, ever, ever been about actually tracking how well you are actually dancing, this doesn't affect gameplay all that much.  You still stand in front of your TV and mirror the dancer you see onscreen, just now you hold your phone instead of having the Eye of Sauron watching you.

  Personally, I kind of think this is lame, but it is pretty much the same as dancing with a Wii remote in your hand which is where the series started and got so huge to begin with, so what do I know?  I'll keep using Kinect, though.

The other major new feature in Just Dance 2016 is the introduction of Just Dance Unlimited, which is a subscription-based streaming service - $40 per year, $7 per month - that grants users unlimited access to 150 songs at launch with more songs being added all the time.  You don't have to subscribe to Just Dance Unlimited if you don't want to - Just Dance 2016 has 40+ songs on-disc - but this is clearly the direction Ubisoft would like the series to go in the future.  The gameplay hasn't changed much in the past few years - how much can it change, really? - and the modes are all pretty much the same, so going to a subscription model rather than asking you to buy a new game every year to deliver new songs makes a lot of sense. 

Graphics & Sound

Presentation has always been very strong in Just Dance and Just Dance 2016 is no different.  It is just a really attractive looking game with lots of bright colors and appealing backgrounds as you dance, and the dancing animation itself is top notch.

  Also, as much as I hate to admit it because I don't like them just ditching Kinect, navigating the menus with a controller is a lot easier than using Kinect.  The music all sounds good as well, so nothing to complain about here.

Just Dance Disney Party 2

In addition to Just Dance 2016, Ubisoft also released Just Dance Disney Party 2 for Xbox One this year.  Disney Party 2 is a much more traditional Just Dance experience like you're used to.  There are no smart phone control options here so Kinect is required for this one.  Since it is a game primarily aimed at kids - I can't imagine an adult wanting to play a game with a track list like this, anyway - sticking with Kinect as the only control option was very wise.

  The track list is taken from recent Disney Channel Original Movies and TV shows like "Austin & Ally", "Teen Beach 2", "Zapped", "Girl Meets World", and others, so its intended audience is pretty clear.  If you have kids who love these shows and you have a Kinect for your Xbox One, this is a pretty easy game to recommend.  They'll love it. 

Bottom Line

All in all, Just Dance 2016 is mostly more of the same Just Dance you know and love.  It has fantastically accessible gameplay that makes decent use of Kinect, and the presentation is very appealing.  There are clouds of change looming on the horizon, however, and this may well be the last Just Dance game of this type we'll see.  Ubisoft is trying to move away from Kinect as the control method by allowing you to use a smart phone instead, and the introduction of a subscription service for new songs means the yearly release schedule may be at an end as well.  We'll have to see next Fall what these changes really mean for the series, but for now Just Dance 2016 is another solid entry in the series that fans will enjoy.