In a crowded holiday marketplace full of new games and new systems, sometimes you can feel overwhelmed by the options. When that happens, we tend to flock towards games we know and trust. When I see a Super Mario or Assassin's Creed game, for example, I have a pretty good idea of what to expect. The same can be said for Just Dance 2021, the latest entry in Ubisoft's long-running dancing series.
I wish every videogame was a straightforward as Just Dance 2021. With this latest entry, You know exactly what you're getting into. In Just Dance 2021 you just dance, no more and no less. With over 40 songs to choose from, Just Dance 2021 feels like an expansion pack to an ever-growing collection of songs available on Just Dance Unlimited, the franchise's subscription service. There is really no significant change with this latest entry. With that being said, the core gameplay is still fun and it's still one of the best party games around.
The rhythm of the night
Bottom Line: Just Dance 2021 is the latest Just Dance game to offer more of the same. It's still a fun party game, but it's almost virtually identical to the previous iteration…and the one before that. And the one before that.
- 40 songs to choose from
- An impressive international song selection
- It's a great way to start a party
- It's identical to the previous game
- There are about 600 songs locked away behind a paywall
- There's not much else to do by yourself
What I like about Just Dance 2021
Just Dance 2021 remains virtually the same game as it was when it debuted back in 2009. Players mirror the moves of on-screen dancers as they try to earn a high score. When I say mirror the moves, what you're actually mirroring are the movements of your dancer's highlighted hand. This is done not with a traditional controller, however, it's instead done by using the combination of your smartphone and the Just Dance Controller app that transforms your device into an extension of your arm. In fact, the whole game, from menus to gameplay, is handled through the phone app.
There's something to be said about the brilliance of the Just Dance Controller app. It works really well and makes an already accessible game even more so by eliminating the need for additional expensive and cumbersome accessories. It removes the last barrier of entry that stands in the way of non-gamers looking to bust a groove. And they will — Just Dance 2021 is like karaoke; people don't need to watch for very long before they want to jump in on the action. The moment I started really hopping around to Blinding Lights, my girlfriend was already standing in the wings waiting for a turn, like a moth to a pop-infused flame.
|Category||Just Dance 2021|
|Title||Just Dance 2021|
|Platforms||Stadia, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch|
|Players||Local, up to 6 players|
The available songs include some of the most popular songs of the year, and lots of international songs, including Reggaeton, K-pop, and Arab pop tracks. Uber popular artists like Billie Eilish, Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande, Doja Cat, and The Weekend make the cut, as well as some surprising additions like Eminem's "Without Me" and "You Got a Friend in Me" from Toy Story.
Since TikTok has given every song known to man its own choreography, there are quite a few songs ripped from various viral memes as well. In addition, there are a few custom tracks specifically for younger dancers as well. All in all, I thought the playlist was just fine, even if I wasn't familiar with many of the artists.
There are a couple of new features that round out the rest of the package, including the World Dance Floor, which drops you in a three-song tournament with players of similar dance experience to compete for first place, a quick play option that cuts the menus out entirely and selects a random song for you to dance to, a couple of extreme routines for players looking to shake more than just their hand, and a "Sweat Mode" that counts the calories burned.
What I didn't like about Just Dance 2021
Just Dance 2021's ace in the hole is its subscription-based service, Just Dance Unlimited. Opting into a subscription for a day, one month, three months, or a year, will give you access to over 600 songs in an ever-growing catalog. Here's where you want to be, and this subscription service is what makes Just Dance 2021 feel redundant. For $25 dollars, I can buy a subscription to Just Dance Unlimited on my computer and dance to every song in Just Dance's 10-year history and then some. It's controlled through the Just Dance Controller app as well, and the console exclusive additions don't add much to the experience.
Many of the song's pre-made playlist are also trapped behind the Just Dance Unlimited paywall. The game is constantly taunting you with popular songs that just aren't available to you, and while every copy of Just Dance 2021 comes with a free month of the service, it just feels like a way to nickel and dime players who bought the copy on the console.
Many of the song's pre-made playlist are also trapped behind the Just Dance Unlimited paywall.
And while the Just Dance Controller app works really well, using your $1000 dollar phone as a remote felt like a gamble sometimes. Without a wrist strap or a grip, I felt like I was going to send my phone crashing into the wall or TV. This is also a game that requires space — living in a small NYC apartment, I just barely had enough room to swing my arms around without breaking down the wall to the apartment next door.
Is Just Dance 2021 worth buying?
This has been a rough year, and Just Dance is the closest I've gotten to any semblance of nightlife in months. I had fun with Just Dance 2021, despite it largely being the same game for more than a decade. I totally understand the appeal, and I believe that this is an essential game for parties. Just Dance 2021 is inoffensive, easily digestible, and one of the most accessible games available. But with no unlockable songs and no significant extras, I don't see why you wouldn't just subscribe to Just Dance Unlimited if you have the option. Six hundred songs for $25 a year is better than the $50 you'll pay upfront for 40, unless you're really into the included tracklist.
Just Dance 2021 is a simple game. There are no explosions or gunfire, no violence, no complicated plot or graphics or problems at all, you just dance. And dancing is fun. If you have the means and want to just dance, though, I would recommend skipping this entry and just subscribing to Just Dance Unlimited directly. Otherwise, this works well enough as another homogenized entry in the rhythm game series.
Just Dance 2021 is almost indiscernible when compared to its last two entries, but its core gameplay is still fun, and I applaud how easy it is for you or multiple people to jump right in and dance. For all the things wrong in the world, at least I can rest easy knowing that Just Dance is just dance.
The rhythm of the night
And the beat goes on.
Just Dance 2021 is a fun party game, but there have been virtually no changes to the gameplay since 2009.
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