While some games require breaks between releases, there are a few fantastic series that deserve yearly releases. Just Dance fits squarely into that category. In Just Dance 2021 the gameplay hasn’t evolved much but new tracks and new dances are enough to keep longtime fans, and new players, engaged for hours upon hours.
In a year where you might find yourself stuck at home with your family, Just Dance 2021 is the perfect title to melt away the hours this holiday season!
Just Dance 2021 Details
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and Stadia
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
Developer(s): Ubisoft Paris
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
Time to boogie
The premise of Just Dance is pretty straightforward. Just…Dance. Packed with some of the most popular songs in 2020, as well as hits from the past, Just Dance 2021 builds on the tried-and-true formula and delivers yet another smooth, dancing experience. For the uninitiated, Just Dance will have you moving around your family room matching actions to those on the screen.
When playing on Nintendo Switch, your Joy Con will let the game know whether or not your actions are matching those on screen, providing you with on-screen feedback as to how well you performed that specific dance move. Of course, you earn corresponding points for how well you perform, culminating in a one to three star rank at the end of the song.
When playing on other platforms, you can use your smartphone to map your dance movements via the Just Dance app.
Modes for all
Ultimately, it’s not the gameplay that will sell people on a new version of Just Dance. In fact, since 2009, when the series originally debuted on the Nintendo Wii, there hasn’t been a whole lot of changes made to gameplay. For returning players, it’s all about two things: the game mode and the tracks you get to dance to.
The kids mode is especially impressive, and introduces the concepts of Just Dance to a younger audience in a very accessible way. Things are always positive here, teaching kids the basics and allowing them to have fun, without demoralizing them when they miss specific steps. The regular “missed,” “supers,” and “perfect” are gone in this mode, replaced instead by “hahas,” “yays,” and “wow!” It’s more of a positive outlook for the younger audiences and a way to keep kids engaged even when their dance steps are just a tad off.
Multiplayer mode is as fun as ever, allowing up to 4 players to come together and perform specific dances. While some songs will have all 4 players performing the same dance, there are a good number that have everyone performing different dances within the same song. When done well, it’s actually impressive to watch, and really makes getting 3 stars on a song more difficult.
Launching into quick play was definitely the primary way I ended up playing in my house. It’s quick and although you don’t choose exactly which song you dance to, it is a great way to work through the game’s 40 tracks and learn a few new songs along the way.
Honestly, not a lot has changed when it comes to the game’s visuals. Though, Just Dance 2021 does improve the look and feel of the game in certain ways. For example, animations feel a bit more fluid than in past few years and the colours really pop. It might not be a substantial coat of polish applied to this year’s release, but it is polished none-the-less!
Other more important quality of life improvements have also been added, the best of which is improved load times. Getting into new songs in Just Dance 2021 has never been as quick, which means you spend much more time dancing your butt off, and a lot less time looking at load screens. Transferring your save data from Just Dance 2020 is also streamlined and improved.
When you play Just Dance 2021, you feel like you are playing a polished experience. As the 11th title in the series, we should fully expect Ubisoft to have the look and feel of the game down to a fine art. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement, however, as I still find the UI a bit overwhelming, and menus uninspired. Regardless, with room to grow, I expect more changes in next year’s title.
Diving into the back catalogue has a price
One of the best recent additions to Just Dance in the past few years has been the inclusion of Just Dance Unlimited. And, while I could have done with less in-game ads telling me about this mode, those invested in the series might consider the subscription service appealing. Yes, it is a subscription service, and does come with a fee.
If you are invested, it’s not a bad price to pay, considering you get access to over 600 songs from the game’s storied history. That being said, trialing Just Dance Unlimited made me wonder why Ubisoft doesn’t just make the series Free-to-Play, with a subscription to access the games songs. I would be way more enticed to purchase year-over-year with that model, as opposed to deciding whether I would buy any years specific release based on the included tracks.
Just Dance 2021 is a great way to have fun with family and friends
Ultimately, the game’s songs decide whether Just Dance 2021 is a worthy purchase. The core gameplay remains the same and is fun to play with family and friends. If you enjoy Just Dance or want to get in a good workout while having fun, it’s an easy recommendation.
However, if you are on the fence, I strongly suggest looking over the track list before making any purchasing decisions. It will ultimately decide how much fun you’ll have with this year’s title.
+ Faster load times
+ Transferring data from last year’s game is easy
+ Fun for all ages
+ Great way to spend time with the family
+ 40 new tracks added
-A lot of content linked to an extra subscription in Just Dance Unlimited
-interface is a little too clunky
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF JUST DANCE 2021
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4.5/5
Overall Rating 4/5 (80%)
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Just Dance is not a series for me, because I don’t listen to popular music. I checked out the song list for this game and the only song I know is You’ve Got a Friend in Me from Toy Story.
I’m sure that for someone who enjoys popular music this game would be a great pickup!
Thanks for the review Jon!
My son is getting a Switch for Christmas. I can imagine I would need to replace the carpet if they were to get Just Dance 2021 as he and his twin sister would probably dance a hole through it! Awesome review.
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