Disclaimer: As part of Ubisoft's College Media Program, The Daily Gamecock received free and early access to the "Just Dance 2022" title.
Game: "Just Dance 2022"
Release Date: Nov. 4, 2021
Genre: Music-rhythm, dance
Players: Up to six
Though the game was dragged down by its visual effect choices, "Just Dance 2022" is, overall, an exciting and challenging game for older audiences that still provides a fun and active gaming experience for younger players.
The "Just Dance" franchise was first released on the Nintendo Wii in 2009. Since then, the game has ballooned in popularity and cultural significance, especially for Gen Z. Now high schoolers or college age, many grew up dancing to songs such as Britney Spears' "Toxic," Boney M.'s "Rasputin" and Lou Bega's "Mambo No. 5" on iterations of the "Just Dance" games.
Though the game’s arguably most passionate audience has matured past the days of dancing with friends after school, "Just Dance 2022" has made concrete steps to appeal to new player bases by introducing more challenging dance gameplay.
The most apparent difference between the new and old "Just Dance" games was the increase in choreographic difficulty. The normal range of easy, medium and hard dance modes still remains, but the extreme option could give an experienced dancer a run for their money. The game also strikes a good balance in distributing challenging choreography and accessible dances for non-dancers.
An absolutely charming and necessary feature in "Just Dance 2022" was the "kid's mode," a collection of simple, appropriate and narrative-driven dances tailored toward younger kids. While some might view this as patronizing to young audiences, the "Just Dance" games can be challenging and even discouraging for kids. Kids Mode allows younger players to have fun playing a video game while being active, a win-win for all parties (and parents) involved.
Though "Just Dance 2022" was strong with its choreography and accessibility features for younger demographics, the overreach of its technical and visual aspects weakened the game.
The game attempted to innovate on its past versions by adding more camera movement and variety in its visual effects during gameplay. Unfortunately, the chaotic zooming and back-and-forth camera motions were dizzying, and only served as a distraction to following the on-screen dancer.
The visual settings of the dances were most successful when kept to a minimum, using just enough story elements and vibrant colors to add to the dance rather than take away.
Some of the story-propelling backgrounds, such as the high school setting for Olivia Rodrigo’s "good 4 u" dance, made for a wonderfully fun and reminiscent playing experience.
Other times, the overeager shifting backdrops and explosive visual effects felt overwhelming and confused the player on what should be at the heart of the game: dancing. The Taylor Swift duet "Love Story (Taylor’s Version)" was a glaring example of this. Its shifting Victorian settings and headache-inducing camera movement dominate and totally alter the gameplay from what it should be.