Just Dance 2016
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Just Dance 2016 is the latest in an ongoing series of group dance-video games. Up to four players can join in using the console's controllers and camera, and up to six can play using a free app on their mobile phones. The music includes oldies, show tunes, more current Top 40 hits, world music, kids' music, and even some classical. Lyrics have been cleaned up for a wide audience, but there are still some suggestive songs and dance moves. Clothing is occasionally on the skimpy side (short shorts, bikini tops), but dancers are more cartoon silhouettes than realistic bodies. Players have the option to upload their in-game dance videos to a public global platform for sharing (also on their website) or to view videos from others around the world. There's also the option to "battle" other players by trying to beat their dance scores. This content is moderated. Kids may also be drawn to the Main Menu option to link to a UPlay Rewards account. This requires access to the console browser, so it may not be accessible if a parental control is in place. There are in-game ads for the "Unlimited" streaming service (a free trial comes with the games), and all the premium songs are listed in the game even if you aren't yet subscribed, although you should expect pressure to subscribe.
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What's it about?
JUST DANCE 2016 has no story mode, but it has seven activities and 43 songs. The basic mode, Dance Party, allows one or more players to dance in a competition for points or in a cooperative mode to earn gems together. If a camera is present (Kinect, Move, Wii U Gamepad), players will get a silly recap of their dance they can save, share to Facebook, or upload to the Just Dance global servers. Showtime is a karaoke mode with several songs that you can freestyle dance to while singing along. If a camera is used, players end up with a music video complete with special effects. Dance Quest pits you against other "players" (game generated) while you perform several dances. Complete the criteria for each level to move on to the next level. Sweat & Playlists is the area for people who want to use Just Dance 2016 to reach fitness goals. You can use a built-in playlist or create your own. It gives you a rough breakdown of calories burned for each one. Just Dance TV allows you to view dance videos from other players around the world, as well as access special Just Dance content. World Video Challenge invites players to upload their dance videos to pit themselves against other players around the world. It's not a live dance-off but it is against other people. Lastly, UPlay rewards players for doing various in-game activities. It's part of UbiSoft's game-reward program. Throughout the Just Dance 2016 experience, players can unlock credits to buy more avatars, mash-ups, and special versions of the dances.
Is it any good?
With the addition of subscription-based streaming DLC content and a lot of social sharing options to the Just Dance franchise, UbiSoft has really ramped it up. For some players, this will greatly enhance their gameplay experience. Unfortunately, there's no way to drown out all the additional noise in the game, making safety and privacy a concern as well as putting additional pressure on parents to buy more content. A constant stream of video content from other players scrolls by in the Main Menu whether you want it there or not. The UPlay icon also appears prominently in the Main Menu, although it requires a UPlay account (which is restricted to ages 13 and older). A banner at the bottom of the menu advertises their streaming service, and kids who select a premium song from the list will be prompted to subscribe. It's a minefield for parents. On a positive note, the addition of the karaoke feature is fun for kids who want to dance their own moves and be the star on the screen. Song choices are limited, but it's a nice change of pace.
There is a nice mix of songs overall, including odd-man-out "William Tell Overture" and a seated dance version of "Under the Sea." You can even dance to some lively Irish music. Tweens and teens may not be impressed, but these song choices make this a more intergenerational play option. The ability to use mobile phones as controllers also make this accessible to those who aren't willing or able to splurge on expensive add-on cameras and controllers, although players need to be very careful as they wave their pricey phones in the air. The accuracy of scoring remains about where it has always been -- sort of mediocre -- but really no one cares. You're too busy trying to keep up and not look like a fool. Kids are still not being recognized properly on camera, so controllers with smaller children are recommended. All in all, there are some wonderful additions to Just Dance 2016. It's just unfortunate that UbiSoft cluttered them up with so many options that parents may not want their kids to access, rather than having a social section on the Main Menu to tuck those onto.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about dancing as a way to stay fit. How many calories does a half hour of dance burn vs. running or swimming?
Discuss personal privacy. Just Dance 2016 allows you to share your videos, so how does that fit into your family's Internet-use policy? If sharing is OK for your family, what are the rules about what you can share?
- Platforms: Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
- Price: $49.99
- Pricing structure: Paid (In addition to the included songs, families can subscribe to a streaming service to access more content. Subscription is $6.99 a month with discounts available for 3 months or a year.)
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: UbiSoft
- Release date: October 20, 2015
- Genre: Music and Dance
- Topics: Arts and Dance
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Mild Lyrics, Mild Suggestive Themes
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.