Just Dance 2021 Review: Get ready to work up a sweat while showing off your best dance moves

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There’s only a handful of gaming series that have actually been able to release successful titles year after year for as long as I can remember.

Just Dance might not be as obvious as series like Fifa, but it has been turning our living rooms into battlegrounds for dance-offs since 2009. After celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2019, dancing enthusiasts can rejoice as the series is still going strong with Just Dance 2021.

Just Dance 2021 follows the same blueprint as previous games, where players will have to follow the dance moves to score points. The gameplay hasn’t changed at all so fans can jump straight in.

Just Dance 2021 is more of an evolution of the series than a revolution

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The main selling point is that there are 40 new tracks which weren't available in other games. Although it is great to have so many new tracks already unlocked, if players were hoping to boogie to 40 of the biggest hits from the last year they will be disappointed.

I would like to think that I'm up to date with music but I didn’t know half the tracks available. Now this doesn’t mean they weren’t great songs to dance to, it's that players shouldn’t expect all the radio hits but rather get ready to learn some new songs.

If this is a deal-breaker which it shouldn’t be then players can pay for the Just Dance Unlimited subscription which has over 600 songs to choose from.

The pricing structure is very reasonable and caters for whether you play the game often or if you want access when hosting a house party. Players are also gifted one month free upon purchase.

One major annoyance is the relentless upselling of the Unlimited services, literally, everywhere you look Ubisoft are trying to get players to buy it constantly, there's even in-game advertising for it.

Just Dance 2021 is divided into three different sections, one with all the main modes, one for kids and a quick play section for those who want to jump right in.

The main Just dance mode is where players will be able to pick one of the 40 included songs to dance to. Players will be able to compete against each other or co-operate to get an overall score for unlockables.

I’ll be frank the unlockables are really underwhelming as players will be rewarded with a sticker, avatar, alias, experience points for you skill level and the in-game currency mojo for their hard work, surely players would be encouraged to keep coming back if songs could be unlocked.

Although unlocking alternate versions of my few favourite songs did bring me back to see what they would be like, you have to play each song a few times to get them.

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Nice little additions are that players can see who is the highest rank dancer for each available song, giving players extra incentive to improve their rhythmic skills.

There are extreme versions of a few songs which can be unlocked, I do think there should be extreme versions for each song as this will increase the replay value for those who don’t pick up the unlimited service.

World Dance is fun online experience allowing players to take part in tournaments. You will always be placed with players in your skill level, which was good as I didn’t want to be crushed on my first attempt.

Players can use the playlist section to create their own custom playlist to playthrough or use the premade ones which have specific themes.

But most songs in the premade playlists will be locked if you haven’t purchased the unlimited service, so you may just end up having two songs available to you per list with the tracks available.

The return of the sweat mode is really welcomed though, where the scoring system is replaced with a live calorie counter.

This will push players to really try and mimic the moves as opposed to just changing the positions of their hands. This also adds to the competitive fun as players can compete to see who burns the most calories.

The Just Dance section will keep dancing lovers occupied for a while with the 40 included songs and the completionist out there will want to get the alternate and extreme versions of each song.

But I think there should be a better mix of well-known songs available from the get-go for casual players but saying that the Unlimited service isn't too costly.

Just Dance 2021 is the twelfth instalment of the series

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The Kid mode is a very stripped back version of the Just Dance mode, with ten child-friendly songs and a rainbow star scoring system. There aren’t any dance instructions to follow and nothing can be unlocked. I understand that this is catered to really young children but with the tech-savvy kids of today, this may seem very basic and uninspiring.

The gameplay in Just Dance 2021 is as intuitive as ever, players will be scored and judged with an Ok, Super or Perfect for how closely they can match the dance moves.

This works well but I did find when using a Joy-Con on the Switch I didn’t have to fully mimic the moves to gain a perfect score. I could just lift my hands in the right direction.

Players will once again have the option to use either the controller on the console they are playing on or use their smartphone through the Just Dance App.

Setting this up is effortless and the mobile phone works a charm as a controller. This is a great feature providing all the players have smartphones as you can’t mix gameplay with the console controllers which is a massive oversight.

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Verdict

Ubisoft doesn’t look like they will be slowing down any time soon with Just Dance, and with a community of 135 million, they shouldn’t have to. However, I do think the inclusion of more popular songs included with the game and better rewards will allow casual players like myself to keep returning outside the occasional family get together or house party.

Having most of the content locked behind a subscription is a slight killjoy even though prices aren’t ridiculous, the constant upsell of the service could also be toned down.

But lovers of dancing will feel right at home here as there isn’t a better dancing simulator out there and despite a few niggling issues Just Dance 2021 is great fun.

Just Dance 2021 is available now on Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X

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