What's in a name change? Having been known as Just Dance [insert number here] since its inception, the most recent update, the newly monikered Just Dance 2014, comes as something as a break from tradition. Whether it's a move to align the game with other yearly updates, like FIFA 14 and WWE 2K14, or simply because they didn't have an appropriate font to write "5", we don't know - but the newest instalment continues the formula we've come to know and love.
Beneath the shiny new coat, Just Dance 2014 is pretty much the same Just Dance game we've been playing for many years now, and while some of it's features have evolved and new songs have been added, the core of the game is still the same. Perfect for parties, it's a simple matter of holding a Wii Remote in your right hand, settling on a song to play (the staple mix of the old, the new, and the cheesy is still there - check out the full song list for more), and copying the moves shown by the little stick men as they scroll along the bottom of the screen. Players score points based on how in time and accurate they were, with the winner being the one who scores the most points. And as it turns out, that's a sure-fire recipe for fun.
It wouldn't be a new Just Dance game without some extra bells and whistles though, and 2014 comes packing several - the most notable of which is arguably the addition of a new online multiplayer mode, dubbed the World Dance Floor. With a constantly running set list of songs, the World Dance Floor mode is kind of like a giant online disco, with hundreds of Just Dancers competing 24 hours a day - and you can jump in and join whenever you want, often mid-way through a track. Sometimes you'll be playing the straight up version of Gwen Stefani's 'Rich Girl', other times taking on an alternative 'On Stage' or 'Mashup' version of a song, and now and then you'll be asked to pick a side - Boys vs. Girls, Sun vs. Moon, Earth vs. Wind - and compete as a team instead. It does help to add a bit of variety to playing Katy Perry's 'I Kissed A Girl' for the umpteenth time - and is oh-so satisfying when you see yourself climbing the rankings - but in the end, you are still basically dancing on your own.
Everything you do in Just Dance 2014 earns you a certain amount of Mojo coins, relative to the number of stars you earned in each song you play. A new currency for this game, these coins essentially form the basis of your progression, and can be used to unlock new songs, alternate dance routines and new icons for your profile in the 'Shop' section of the menu - which is also where the paid for song downloads lurk, each one priced at £2.39 (besides the free download of Katy Perry's 'Roar'). Some of the goodies can't simply be bought by Mojo coins, however, and instead can only be unlocked during a certain month - meaning you'll have to come back and play throughout the year if you want to get everything.
In fact, it's these Mojo coins that are perhaps our only real gripe with the game, as they've replaced the little unlockable objectives that have been present since Just Dance 3. Asking you to get 5 stars on a song, get a certain style rating, or something along those lines, the achievements added that extra incentive to keep replaying the songs, and meant there was always something new you could strive to achieve. Technically, we suppose they are still there, but instead of being built into the game, they're linked to your Ubisoft Uplay account. This means you have to go through the extra faff of booting up a separate application just to check how you're doing - although with just four objectives to complete, you're not exactly missing much if you can't be bothered.
Besides the regular and World Dance Floor modes, Just Dance 2014 has a few other tricks up its sleeves, too. Making its return again this year is Just Dance's workout mode, Just Sweat, in which you play songs back to back for 10, 20 or 40 minutes while the game keeps track of the calories you're burning - you can also choose a 'Free Mode' which lets you pick any of the songs on the disc, again tracking the calories you burn whilst you dance. Rounding out the main modes is JDTV, which will probably be more familiar to those of you with phones that weren't bought for £10 out of desperation when your last one decided to end its life with a leap into a glass of orange juice. Here, you can watch the highlights of the videos people have taken with the Just Dance Autodance app, which lets you record you and your friends busting some sweet moves before cutting, looping and remixing your video to make a silly 'autodance'.
The Wii U, meanwhile, has its own special exclusive "Party Master" mode, which lets one player take control of the choreography of certain songs on the fly using the Wii U GamePad, choosing the next dance moves, switching up the song mid-dance or making everyone strike a pose. When playing in the regular modes, a player with the GamePad can also help earn some bonus Mojo coins by singing along with the lyrics shown on screen - the better they do, the higher the bonus at the end, which is a nice little touch indeed.
With dance routines that are still as over the top as ever, whether you're thrusting your way through Daft Punk's 'Get Lucky', perfecting your Cossack dance in Moskau or doing the Charleston to 'Starships' by Nicki Minaj, Just Dance 2014 gets that mix of multiplayer silliness right yet again. While we may lament the loss of the achievements from the past few iterations of the Just Dance franchise, Just Dance 2014 is still a solid addition to the series that's well worth the entry fee.
Format Reviewed: Nintendo Wii