One of Just Dance 2014's strongest points is its extensive track list. Those who are just looking for the latest hits, including new releases like Lady Gaga's “Applause” and Katy Perry's “Roar”, should be more than pleased. Several classics are also featured, such as The Girly Team's “What A Feeling”, from Flashdance, and ABBA's “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)”. Older songs from this generation, such as Gaga and Perry's first singles, are also included and help round out the selection. The game comes packaged with 48 tracks, and even more are available as DLC.
The gameplay may seem jarring to fans of the rhythm genre who are used to having to hit buttons or perform precise actions. It quickly becomes apparent that Just Dance is less about perfection and more about getting off the couch to work up a sweat. Players can't fail songs, and there's no booing from the crowd. That is, unless you're playing with friends, in which the game may become a series of cat calls and 'love taps'. The game also lacks the usual tutorials, making some newcomers feel as though they've been thrown into the deep end. Luckily, the game is incredibly easy to pick up and play. We tried out multiplayer with a mix of people who had and had not played the series before, and it seemed that everyone was on pretty even playing ground within a short time.
Active gamers will be happy to know that this year's edition features a more in-depth fitness mode. Players can now customize their “Just Sweat” routine, creating playlists and setting workout durations. The game can also keep track of burned calories throughout all game modes, though we can't say how accurate it is. Regardless, it's easy to imagine this becoming part of someone's daily routine.
Just Dance 2014 also features an all-new “on stage” mode, which has one player acting as the lead while two friends serve as back-up dancers. The “party master mode” replaces last year's “puppet master mode” and is exclusive to the Wii U and Xbox One versions of the game. Here, players can use the gamepad (or SmartGlass) to switch songs or change up the choreography. This mode supports up to five players and can lead to some pretty frantic fun, though a little more variety in the choreography would have been nice.
The Wii U gamepad is used for several other features as well. Its built-in camera can record videos that are later uploaded to the game's social service, allowing for other players to see your 'mad skills'. The controller's microphone also makes it easier for players to use the game's optional karaoke feature, which nets them more mojo points.
Nintendo's Wii U offers some interesting experiences, though it may not be suited for the genre. Players are required to use the Wii remote and nunchuk attachment in order to play. This causes the player to be tethered to the controller, a problem which isn't present in the other versions of the title. This game is better with Kinect, and no, that isn't sarcasm. The nunchuk's attachment cord simply isn't long enough to allow for some of the movements featured within the game, and players will find themselves being slapped in the face with it more than a few times. It's difficult to shake your groove thing when strangulation feels like a very real threat. Using the Wii remote also means that the game is unable to detect leg movement, or the shaking of the actual 'groove thing'.
The biggest upgrade this time around is the inclusion of online multiplayer. This is the first time online has been featured in the series, and it seems like the most obvious way to take the franchise forward. Players can join friends or strangers in a virtual crew, taking on other players to better their global standings. This gives a competitive edge to what is usually a rather laid back game. Joining others online is quick and easy, and is probably what will keep this installment spinning in consoles for months to come.
Moving on to a pettier detail, let's talk about how awful the game's menu is. It may not seem like a big deal, but players will be spending a lot of time here. There is no noticeable organization, whether it be by difficulty or game mode. Songs aren't even alphabetized. Not every song is compatible with all game modes, meaning that players will have to check each one to see if it provides them with what they want. Those who plan on playing primarily with friends may find this especially bothersome.
Overall, the Wii U version of Just Dance certainly offers a fun party or workout experience. The Wii U's gamepad is used rather nicely, though more intense players may find themselves ripping their controllers in half as they flail the cord around every which way.