To say that “Just Dance 2014” ($39.99; Rated E10) is just another “Just Dance” game is not a strike against it. In fact, on the Xbox 360 anyway, it’s about as perfect a “Just Dance” game as could possibly exist on the recently supplanted generation of console technology.
Granted, much of this has to do with having the recent good fortune of having some of the most dance-ready pop songs in recent memory. Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” is here, and its robotic dance moves are hilarious in mixed company. Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” is sure to net karaoke bonuses as people sing along. Lady Gaga’s “Applause” is also included, alongside the song that gives the series its title, and the dance moves are just as bizarre as you could hope for – existing somewhere in the space between Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and Madonna’s “Express Yourself.”
Of course, “Prince Ali” (from Disney’s “Aladdin”) is also here, which will allow you to live out any Disney fantasies you’ve been harboring since the early ’90s. The inclusion of such a track speaks to a kitchen-sink approach to the game that could be seen as either a strength or a weakness, depending on what you’re looking for.
Some people are bound to love a game that includes Christina Aguilera and Pitbull’s “Feel This Moment” alongside the “Ghostbusters” theme, but others may be put off by trading of-the-moment pop songs for the sake of more varied fare. It’s a blast to open up something like Ivete Sangalo’s frenetic “Dancando” and do something you might never have done before. But in most of the “Just Dance” sessions I’ve ever been a part of, we just want to dance to songs we’ve heard on the radio.
The various modes of “Just Dance” are as interesting as ever. Those who have the SmartGlass mobile app will find themselves able to play DJ for a while, and those bored with the competition in their own home can participate in the leaderboard-ready World Dance Floor mode.
The variety truly manages to keep the 45-or-so songs of “Just Dance 2014” from getting stale. That said, one of the target audiences for a game like this is kids, and, well, maybe you don’t want little Jimmy or Sally to start remembering the words to “Blurred Lines” or “Get Lucky.”
That’s where “Just Dance Kids 2014” ($29.99; Rated E) comes in. It’s a bare-bones version of the grownup game, with only 30 or so tracks and far fewer features. But the mix of bubblegum pop hits and Disney/Nickelodeon TV tunes is enough to keep kids as young as five or so going for days. Admit it, you’ve been waiting for an excuse to dance along to a “Yo Gabba Gabba” song. Now’s your chance.
Aside from the pre-set dances, there’s also a “Just Create” mode in which the kids get to watch themselves dance to the songs, and then make their friends (or, of course, their parents) try to duplicate their moves for good measure. The saving and loading can be a bit complicated for the younger set and will probably require some supervision, but that time is worth the laughs that result.
Both games are perfect for the sort of social experience that they’re designed for, and aside from maybe a few moments where the Kinect’s ability to recognize the player breaks down, it’s done as perfectly as it can be.
New This Week: This is, of course, the week of the Xbox One ($499.99), which brings with it such highly-anticipated exclusives as “Dead Rising 3” ($59.99), “Forza Motorsport 5” ($59.99) and “Ryse” ($59.99). Not to be outdone, Nintendo is releasing two major games from its own flagship franchises: “Super Mario 3D World” (Wii U, $59.99) and “The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds” (3DS, $39.99).