If you’ve read any of my past reviews of this popular game series, you could easily glean that if I was by myself with a spare hour to kill and nothing to do, I likely wouldn’t get my funk on with a couple of Just Dance 2016 routines. It’s not that I’m such a stick-in-the-mud or that this shake-what-yo-mama-gave-ya amusement wouldn’t welcome me with its colorful eye-candy visuals. It’s that these Just Dance games simply scream “PARTY!”
So you almost have to gather a group to get the most out of things.
Since this series started back in 2009, party is exactly what fans of the franchise have been doing. And this latest installment urges them—practically begs them—to keep on doing it with those same bombastically colored silhouette dancers¬—snazzed up in everything from ballerina tutus and jockey gear to Angry Bird outfits and panda costumes. You get the same rhythmic and hypnotically watchable choreography, too.
Regardless of which console you’re working with, this game gets the groove going for at least four players. Some tunes sport solo beboppers, but most of the time you’ll see a duet or more in the mix.
Just Dance 2016 has also opened its digital dance floor to your smartphone. With an easy-load app and the phone’s gyroscope in tow you don’t need to purchase any special add-on equipment. Of course, the game can only really measure what the phone in your left hand is doing, so the rest of your body could be flopping around like a beached tuna, but, hey, like I said, it’s a … PARTY!
OK, so what’s the deal with the music this time? Well, here’s where things can get a little step-on-your-toes challenging from the family-fare point of view. In an effort to sport a variety of new pop-hit dance numbers, the gamemakers have included questionable cuts from the likes of Charli XCX, Selena Gomez, Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson and Jason Derulo.
The tunes are upbeat and bouncy, but Mom won’t be happy about the kids repeatedly working their way through Gaga’s LGBT theme song “Born This Way”; or Demi Lovato’s lusty, same-sex fling “Cool for the Summer”; or the sexually subservient “Hey Mama” by David Guetta (with Nicki Minaj); or even Meghan Trainor’s focus-on-my-booty ode “All About That Bass.” And along for the ride are occasional swear words, including the s-word.
Fortunately, discerning families can pick and choose. And there are some truly fun danceable ditties in the mix, classics like Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin'” and Ray Charles’ “Hit the Road, Jack.” Novelty niceties come in the form of Disney’s “Under the Sea” and Angry Birds’ “Balkan Blast Remix.” There’s even a great horse-race dance number featuring the “William Tell Overture,” from back when I was a boy in 1828.
I’ll wrap things up by noting that there are a number of different modes to play through here. Dance Quests, for instance, pits you against an AI dancer for three challenging numbers. World Dancefloor lets you compete against other dancers online. And Sweat lets you pick an energetic playlist to, well, get those pores a-workin’.
But Dance Party is the mode that you’ll be using most. In it you can either compete with your friends and try to gain the highest score or play co-operatively and try to accumulate a massive score together. While you accumulate a massive amount of fun in the process. (As long as you don’t stub you toe on a tawdry tune.)
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.