March 10, 2017

Just Dance 2017 for Switch - Review

Ubisoft announced their support for Switch, long before the console even had a name, in fact apart from Breath of the Wild, Just Dance 2017 was the first game we knew was coming and now it’s here, does it bring anything fresh to the new platform and series.

Right off the bat, the content in Just Dance 2017 for Switch is the same as it is on the other platforms, the song selection is the same, but the Switch does get an exclusive song. The games modes are here as well, from the standard just dance mode, the workout modes and the crazy Just Dance Machine, in addition to the online features as well. While the content is the same, the methods of play is what is changed and depending on how you play, your millage is going to vary. The game offers up the 3 modes, TV, Tabletop and handheld and depending on how you want to play it and the number of people you play with, things will get strange.

The way most people are going to play it is in the TV mode, with the Switch in its dock, JoyCon removed and in people’s hands.  The TV mode experience is identical to the Wii U version released last year, holding a Joy-Con or a supported mobile, you select your song and dance in line with the person on the screen. If you are playing in TV mode, you can play with 5 additional players, giving you a total of six. The issue with playing with that many players, is it can be a little confusing when you are mixing up six real people, with a maximum of 4 on screen avatars. If you like Just Dance, this is going to be your go to mode.

Tabletop mode is perhaps the best example of the Switch, being played anywhere, just as long as you have your JoyCon, you can dance anywhere, if you have space. The gameplay is identical to TV mode, with nothing changing, the only difference is the screen size of course, with most houses these days having large tv’s, going to the six-inch screen is a massive change and it will take for people to adjust. If you do this, the gameplay is not really impacted, given that it’s the same game, the issue is going to be when you start adding more players to the mix. On one’s own, you can play the game without any real issues, two people it also remains playable, the problem is that the game supports up to six people and trying to get six people where they can all see the screen, without punching or kicking your fellow dancers.

The gameplay option that I refuse to promote is the handheld mode, in which it’s for a single player, that holds one JoyCon in one hand, the other JoyCon remains attached to the Switch and you hold onto it in the other hand. While I am sure this could work in some strange situation that I can’t imagine, in the real world, it is awkward and frustrating, trying to match the dance moves, while ensuring you don’t drop your Switch. While the Switch handheld mode is supported, just stick with either of the other two modes.

In terms of performance, the game runs nice and smooth, the load times are minimal, though Just Dance Unlimited is always going to have variable times, depending on your internet speed. With the selection of songs in Unlimited at over 200, you will find a lot to play as well, just need to be patience with internet speeds. When playing in tabletop mode or handheld, the quality of the music that comes through is also very nice, it’s not distorted, nor does it sound like it has been compressed in any form, which is great. While Ubisoft have not pushed any bizarre modes into the game, taking advantage of the Switch’s hardware abilities, they have also not used the software ones, at no point was I able to take a capture of the game, using the capture button. Be it in a menu, loading screen or actual dance mode, it simply did not want to take a capture.

Just Dance 2017 for Nintendo Switch does not reinvent anything from the long running series, it offers up the same gameplay that you can find on other platforms, which is just what was needed. Rather than attempting to shoehorn strange features into the game, they have left it to the plain and pure Just Dance experience and that is great.

Thanks to Ubisoft for supplying the game for review

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