The world of video games is constantly reinventing itself, offering new experiences to entertain players of all ages. Among the titles that have captivated the attention of millions of players around the world in recent years, Just Dance, released for the Wii in 2009, still stands out to this day, rallying fans of the Dance Dance Revolution of yesteryear, young people fascinated by dances on TikTok and living-room sportsmen of all kinds. Since 2014, Ubisoft has been offering a mobile version, called Just Dance Now, which stands out for its user-friendliness and accessibility. Indeed, Just Dance Now boasts of offering an experience very close to the regular Just Dance game, but for free and without the need for a gaming console. Hidden treasure or money pit? I tested Just Dance Now so you don’t have to. Keep reading to learn more!
How do we play?
Just Dance Now is a dance game application developed by French video game giant Ubisoft. Launched in 2014, the app offers a unique experience by allowing players to dance to popular songs using their smartphone as a controller. Simply connect your phone to a screen with a gadget like Google Chromecast or AppleTV, or on a smart TV, or use your computer monitor and internet to access the game. This streamlined approach eliminates the need to invest in expensive consoles or bulky accessories. However, this simplicity also has some drawbacks, which I detail later.
For the sake of this article, I installed the free app from Google Play and played by going to the Just Dance Now website, which displays a code at the top left to copy on the app to sync everything. I played standing in front of my computer, making sure I had enough room to move (of course, always make sure you have room).
A frankly similar experience
Using the smartphone’s motion-tracking technology, the app detects the player’s movements and translates them to the screen in real time. Players follow the dancers’ movements on screen and are rewarded based on their accuracy and timing. It’s an immersive experience that encourages creativity, friendly competition and, most importantly, the joy of dancing.
In this regard, Just Dance Now offers an experience very similar to that offered by Just Dance on console, although the most assiduous players may notice a certain laxity regarding accuracy. In my experience, it seems easier to make points and “cheat” (by only moving the arm holding the smartphone, for example) with Just Dance Now. For example, I easily and steadily earned 4-stars scores on the songs I tested, while the fly on my wall must have wondered if I was trying to scratch my armpits with my heels. There was nothing accurate or graceful about it, but following the movements approximately was still worth max points, which made me skeptical, to say the least.
Some cool features…
Just Dance Now offers a range of features that enrich the gaming experience:
- An extensive catalog of songs : The app offers a range of songs from timeless classics to the latest hits, covering all musical tastes.
- Multiplayer sessions : You can dance with friends and players from around the world in real time, creating a virtual party atmosphere.
- Daily Challenges and Tournaments : Take part in daily challenges to earn rewards and compete against other players in special tournaments.
- Personalization : Customize your dance experience by unlocking avatars, stickers, and special rewards.
Visually, we are dealing with the same game. The bright colors, the dancers, the concept: everything is reminiscent of Just Dance and the quality is there. With a good internet connection, you can have a smooth and enjoyable gaming experience, and the smartphone captures the amplitude (left-right) and height (up-down) of the movements, even if the accuracy is slightly off compared to Just Dance on console. Mediocre dancers will be able to enjoy the respite offered by this laxity and impress their friends with some high scores.
… … With a twist
All this comes at a price, however, because, even if the application is free, playing is not completely free: players receive 200 coins when they register, but each game costs 100 coins… As a result, the players only get two free spins before they have to put their hand in their pocket. They still receive 100 free coins per day when they connect to the application, which ultimately allows for a few free games a week.
If you want to play multiple games in a row, you’ll either need to accumulate your points by saving your coins each day, or inevitably “become VIP” by purchasing a daily ($6.99), monthly ($8.49), quarterly ($13.59) or annual ($34.99) subscription. The VIP membership allows you to dance freely, gain access to more than 500 songs and enjoy new content added all year round and, at $34.99 per year, which is quite affordable for such a well-designed and accessible game.
However, there are many factors that make Just Dance Now lesser than its console namesake. The catalogue is not always updated regularly, sometimes leaving players hungry for more. Connecting and syncing can sometimes cause problems, making the gaming experience difficult. The difficulty of some challenges can seem daunting to less experienced players and avatar customization elements are often tied to microtransactions, which can be a hindrance for some players.
If you own a compatible console and are thinking about buying the VIP membership for a year, you might as well buy Just Dance 2023, which is currently priced at around $30 on the Switch and will give you a more balanced experience.
A mixed opinion
Just Dance is a cultural phenomenon, with videos of players sharing their choreographies on social media, Just Dance dance competitions at the Olympics, and even live events all over the world. However, when it comes to Just Dance Now, the limited accessibility to smartphones may exclude some gamers who don’t have compatible smartphones or prefer a more traditional gaming experience. In addition, the cost of the VIP membership, even if it is quite low, does not compensate for the technical shortcomings of the game and its limited songs catalogue.
In conclusion, Just Dance Now offers an immersive and well-thought-out dance experience, but it is important to weigh the pros and cons. Whether you’re ready to overcome any limitations to enjoy virtual dancing or prefer a smoother gaming experience, Just Dance Now has something for everyone.
If, like me, you like to indulge in this kind of game once in a while and only plan to enjoy the free daily trials, it is an enjoyable and fun experience that allows you to add a little fun physical activity to your day and I recommend it. It’s also a good way to test the game before deciding to invest in buying Just Dance on console, especially if you don’t have a compatible console and hesitate before committing to such a considerable purchase. The experience provided by Just Dance Now is true to Just Dance, as long as you don’t plan on playing too seriously and religiously every day.
Pro Tip: If your kids are asking you for a console to play Just Dance, first see if they quickly get tired of Just Dance Now! You will quickly see if buying the game will get you your money’s worth.