Sister Sledge sang "He's the greatest Dancer", and although that classic hit certainly wasn't written about us, we won't let that stop us from pretending that it was.
Just Dance 2017 from Ubisoft is the latest incarnation of the rhythm based game that originally started on the Wii back in 2009. As time progressed and the game made its way cross platform, the need for wands was replaced, first by the Kinect, then also by the PS4 Camera. By the time of Just Dance 2015 the current-gen consoles had the motion control pretty much sorted, but as we found, young kids (10 and under) struggled to register their movement on the camera. Thankfully, this is now a thing of the past, and the introduction of the Just Dance App means mobile devices can now be used as an improvised controller, which changes everything.
Choice of controller is the first option when starting up. Playing on the PS4 we were given three different ways to play: the Just Dance App on a mobile device, the PlayStation Camera, and finally the Move Controller. You can't mix and match unfortunately, so whatever you pick, everyone playing co-op has to use the same.
The Just Dance App is great, as it's quick and easy to install and offers the ability for six players to be connected at once, making it great for parties. The App is also brilliant for navigating the menus, allowing you to select modes, songs, pause while dancing, and even edit your Dancer Card. Make sure you grip tightly though, as you don't want to throw your smart phone across the room, let alone embed it into your TV. The downside of holding tight is the danger of pressing power buttons, home keys etc., as this can cause the App to close or suspend, ruining your dance move combo.
Another choice is the console's camera. While enjoying the ease of hands-free dancing for up to four players on-screen, the menus are still accessed by your controller, and the cameras will pick up your silhouette. As we found, though, children barely register at all, and this can kill the fun if one player is just too small.
Playing on the PS4 you get the option of the Move controllers, and these offer the security of wrist straps, excellent accuracy, and everyone from your smallest kids to your 90 year old gran can play. Sadly, though, trying to use them in the menus is painful, as an attempt to move two songs to the right can put yourself three modes down and eight songs over. After a fair bit of testing, then, we decided that risking our mobile phone was the best option (that's what insurance is for anyway) and really delved into the game.
There is every game mode you can think of in Just Dance 2017. Most parties will probably opt for Just Dance, though, as in here you can play Rival (The Classic Experience) or Co-op (Dance as a team to earn Jewels). The song are nicely grouped to help with your selections, as Just Dance 2017 features 41 songs in this year's catalogue and these are then broken down into Solo dancer, Duet, Trio and Quartet to help with co-op play. In addition to these 41 tracks is Just Dance Unlimited, a subscription that gives you access to almost the entire back catalogue of the Just Dance games (over 200 tracks). You're given three months free with the game and extensions can be purchased, with one month for £3.99, three months for £7.99, and 12 months for £24.99.
The longevity of the game will come into play here, as those who plan to play solidly will benefit from the 12 months, but casual players that only jump on during social occasions can still enjoy the Unlimited for just a small price (considering other rhythm games can charge £1.20+ per song, it's not unreasonable). It's clever thinking from Ubisoft to keep microtransactions without charging huge amounts for player loyalty.
Other game modes include the already established World Dance Floor, where you can pit yourself against other players in real-time across the globe and see if you can finish on top, as well as Sweat & Playlists, in which you set up a selection of songs or choose from pre-selected ones and dance those calories away in a fitness-themed dance mode.
Dance Quest, a mini campaign mode of sorts, tasks you with competing against NPC dancers on themed song packs. Points are awarded for finishing position, and you need to top the leaderboard in order to advance to the next quest. A fair amount of time can be spent here as you attempt to finish your journey as a legendary dancer.
Vs Video Challenge, however, is a great mode that can offer some real fun for solo players. Think you're good at a song? Just record your performance, share it with the community and challenge them to beat it, you can also attempt to beat other challengers, choose another dancer's performance and set your score in a 'best of three' match.
Just Dance TV is your media player, and here you can watch the best videos from the Just Dance community or even upload your own. There has also been a new mode added that we had a lot of fun playing called Just Dance Machine. Two disco aliens from outer space have run out of power close to earth and are in dire need of a recharge, and you are beamed aboard and forced to dance a bizarre combination of dance styles as the aliens harvest your energy to power their ship's batteries. Every dance style imaginable is here from Hip-hop and Street, to Bhangra and Ballet, causing some hilarious replay videos.
We weren't sure if we would enjoy yet another outing of Just Dance, as other rhythm based games have gotten tired and dropped the ball. It might be similar in many ways to last year's effort, but we still enjoyed the neon colours and silly costumes, as well as a selection of tracks that range from classic disco, R'n'B and modern floor fillers to cheesy euro pop and wacky J-Pop. Just Dance 2017 has managed to keep it fresh, accessible, affordable, and most importantly fun.