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December 18, 2015

Worst 12 Just Dance Levels

As I said the past two weeks, Just Dance generally remains the same regardless of the edition. It’s all dancing, it’s all copying the movements of a character on the screen. Therefore, there shouldn’t be much to make a Top/Bottom 12 list about, right? Wrong! It’s perfectly possible to rank my favorite and least favorite Just Dance levels (AKA the routines, whether they’re the main one or an alternate). There are many factors to take into consideration.
-The song itself: Obviously it’s fun to dance, but we all tend to prefer to dance to songs we already like;
-The artist: Similar to “the song itself”, this is when the song’s artist is the reason you like or dislike a song more than another. That’s a bias, but it happens… even to me…;
-The choreography: It all depends on whether or not you like the movements done by the character on the screen. Do you need to make large movements? Do you need to get on the floor? Is it slow or fast? Are there movements difficult to replicate? If it’s a Duo, Trio or Dance Crew level, will I look ridiculous playing it alone? All questions to take into consideration;
-The responsivity of the controls: It may be just an impression, but certain Just Dance levels work better than others. Sometimes it feels as though the game doesn’t recognize your movements. Other times, it does so extremely well;
-The mode: This is a big defining factor, as the mode can make a big difference. Of course, this mostly has an effect on alternate routines, and there will be alternate routines on this list.
-And last but not least, the style: the character(s), the background, and all the animation that goes with it.

Today, I am counting down those 12 levels that I simply cannot stand. Do I play them? Yes, because of a mindset I have that I should try everything that’s in a game. Because some people went through the trouble of doing this. I’ll finish this list first, then Monday I’ll post Part 1 of the Top 24 article, and then on Christmas I’ll post Part 2. And as you’ll see, there are many reasons to like or dislike a level. But in the end, these lists are just my opinion. You’re free to like levels that I dislike, or to dislike levels that I like.

12. Land of 1000 Dances (Wilson Pickett) JD3
Sometimes, unresponsive controls and a difficult routine are all you need to hate a song. In fact, this one, I just don’t get. A lizard – crocodile or alligator, one or the other, I don’t know and I don’t care – in a suit, dancing in front of a classroom’s blackboard, and doing a bunch of difficult moves that, of course, the player has to repeat. It’s not a bad song, but why an alligator? Why a classroom? Is he teaching the 1000 dances? This is not even a land! Why the suit? Why… why… You know what, the logic part of my brain gave up. Add to this a level that seems to find it hard to recognize your movements, and you get a perfect contender for the #12 spot on this list.

11. Xmas Tree (Bollywood Santa) JD2015
MY EARS, THEY BLEED. Okay, first off, while I love Christmas, there is one thing I hate: The songs. The god-freaking-damn songs. As a result the Christmas songs in my MP3 collection are either anti-Christmas, dark twists on the holiday, or just plain weird stuff with Christmas as an element. Also of note, I have nothing against Just Dance games each having one Christmas song. Nor do I have a problem with Ubisoft trying to have at least one Bollywood song per game. Sadly, mixing both results in what I consider auditory torture. This song is awful. It’s annoying, it’s bad, and although I like the style of the dancers (one of them is a dark-skinned Santa) and the background animation, this is just too terrible for me. I’ll go back to “The Night Santa Went Crazy”, I like it better.


10. Applause (Lady Gaga) / Blame it on the BOOGIE (Mick Jackson) JD2014
Two cases where a difficult choreography and the game being unresponsive to the player’s movements. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Lady Gaga’s song Applause. But I found the routine to be so damn unclear and complicated, with slow moments at the worst times, and an impossibility to figure out the next movements. As for Blame It On The Boogie, it’s almost the same thing, except in Dance Crew form, so you have four times the annoyance. I mean, don’t be surprised, most of the items low on this list are more about unresponsive movement detection, because that’s minor compared to some other complaints…

9. Pump It (Black Eyed Peas) JD3
Yup! The controls again! What’s that? I sound like a broken record? Tough! One problem I’ve noticed with the Just Dance games is that, since we’re facing the character on the screen – we kind of have to, if we want to copy their movements – then when said character makes movements forwards it’s often difficult to distinguish what is being done. That’s one downside of having such colorful characters. The routine for the Black Eyed Peas’ Pump It is difficult, but it also feels rather unequal compared to the rest. It may seem like an odd choice, really, but I find it particularly sad when I cannot enjoy a song that I like because the game doesn’t work as well as I wished it did. This routine’s movements aren’t all that complex, but a detection problem makes this level not nearly as enjoyable as it could be.

8. Love Is All (The Sunlight Shakers) JD2015
Sometimes, the aesthetics of a Just Dance level are so fun you wish you’d like it, but you just can’t. Love Is All, which I discussed in my review of JD2015, is all aesthetics and no substance. A princess dances with a frog-man, and after she kisses him, he turns into a human prince and they dance some more. Meanwhile, dozens of creatures come and dance along with them, including a Rabbid. I’m not a fan of the choreography, because it needs cooperation with the other player, so good luck when you’re playing alone. I just don’t like this one. Maybe it’s because it’s too cheesy for me? Look, I don’t know, alright?

7. Diamonds (Seated Dance) JD2015
Dancing… while sitting on a chair! Yes, that’s the point. Introduced as a single level in JD2014, this mode returned in HD2015 for Rihanna’s Diamonds – for which the original routine is so good it’s on the other list. I’ll give it that, this is not pole dancing. But you still need to drag a chair in the room where you’re playing (maybe even more than one in the case of a duet), sit down and then do the routine. Just Dance works because you don’t need additional material to play. All you need is the Wii remote. Why should I have a dance that requires a chair? Why? Meh.


6. It’s My Birthday (will.i.am ft. Cody Wise) ALL JD2015
Now we get into the ones I hate because of the artist. But this one and #5 are pretty much equal. Will.i.am is an ex-member of the Black Eyed Peas, so you’d expect his songs to be at least a bit enjoyable so that you’d have fun dancing to it. But It’s My Birthday is just insipid and terrible to listen to. There’s nothing to redeem it, especially not Cody Wise. What’s more, JD2015 has it twice, once with a regular choreography and another in a special “Bollywood Dance”. Dammit, this is a 12-item list and Bollywood’s on it twice. But, in my defense, the “Bollywood Dance” is only that; the dance is only remotely based on Bollywood. The song is the same unenjoyable piece of crap. But it’s still better than…

5. #thatPOWER (will.i.am ft. Justin Bieber) JD2014
Well, hello again will.i.am! And this time around, he’s brought another singer we love to hate, Mr. Bieber, too! Is this why this one is placed higher than It’s My Birthday? Well, no! I mean, I know that I’m not the target audience for boy bands and certain singers, but I try to give everything a chance. And, I know I’ll be laughed at, but Justin Bieber’s lines in this are alright. Start laughing. But then we get to will.i.am’s bit… and well, uh… let me refer you to an earlier reaction of mine.
MY EARS. THEY BLEED.
Christ, this is shitty. But that’s not the worst; oh no, if the song was just bad, it would have been placed lower than It’s My Birthday. The kicker is that #thatPOWER is available in FOUR DIFFERENT ROUTINES in Just Dance 2014, so I have to play through this… thing four fucking times. Thankfully this song doesn’t hurt on a moral level, while it does seem to hurt me a little to play it… but that’s nothing compared to the next on this list.

4. Fine China (Chris Brown) JD2014
Those who have known me, in real life or on the Internet, know that I am very capable of keeping a grudge. And that’s why I say “Fuck You, Chris Brown”, for things that happened many years ago. Dancing to this song makes me sick. I feel like it’s morally wrong to even listen to the music produced by a domestic abuser, one who even seems to mock this fact in his later output. It’s just my bias steamrolling its way into my review, but I don’t give a fuck. That this song is available in Just Dance 2014 with FOUR DIFFERENT ROUTINES makes it even worse, as the completionist that I am had to play through all of them. Urgh. To its credit, the choreography is alright, and the backgrounds are pretty. But there’s always that nagging feeling at the back of my head that this is wrongness made into a song. It’s just evidence to the unfairness of the world that this guy still has a career, period, while women who denounce sexism or acts of violence towards them get thrown out of stardom. Okay, now that this is done, let me get off my soapbox, and I can continue this list.

3. Giddy On Up (Giddy On Out) (Laura Bell Bundy) Hold My Hand JD3
I am not really a fan of country music. This and the blackest scream death metal are the only two genres I don’t listen to. And even then, some country songs are okay. This one is fun to dance to… oh wait, I meant the normal, 1-Player choreography. The Hold My Hand routine has to be unlocked by collecting Mojocoins in Just Dance 3. I don’t think I can quite explain how this thing works… you and another player are holding the Wii remote as if you’re holding hands. As a result, this level cannot, I repeat, CANNOT be played in single-player mode. It just doesn’t work that way. And even with a second player to get this to function, you need to work together. Even then, nothing says it’ll be fine.

2. Jamaican Dance (Konshens) Hold My Hand JD3
Hello again, Hold My Hand! The previous item on this list at least had the excuse of being an unlockable alternate choreography for a song that already had a solo routine. This… does not. It’s literally the official Just Dance choreography for Jamaican Dance. And that’s extremely sad. As I just said, Hold My Hand Mode was just a pile of crap. There have been only three of those in the history of the Just Dance franchise, and thank God for that. In fact, I do have the impression that this routine is even worse than the one for Giddy On Up. Thankfully, there’s a Mashup routine for Jamaican Dance that Frankensteins bits and pieces from other routines, finally saving me the trouble of suffering through a Hold My Hand torture level. The diagram indicating how to hold the Wii remote is incomprehensible!

1. BATTLE (all of them) JD2014
Let me be clear: Battle Mode is just awful. It doesn’t matter which songs are used in it. These levels just suck. For starters, it’s a new choreography for both characters; and yes, the original dancer for each song returns for the battle. Second, the new choreography involves some kind of interaction between the two characters. Third, if you’re playing against a CPU character, chances are it’ll kick your ass. Which doesn’t mean much here, but well, that means that the song related to the character you picked will not be playing, even though THAT’S THE ONE YOU WANT TO HEAR. Fourth, the “life bar” mechanic is very poorly implemented. Even if you get a bunch of Perfect, you might still not inflict enough damage to the opponent. I never quite understood how it worked. Fifth, the song choices for these battles are just horrendous! There’s only four levels like this, and here are the titles combating:
-Kiss You VS. Pound The Alarm (meh);
-C’mon VS #thatPOWER (urgh);
-Fine China (AAAAUUUURRRRGHHHHHHH) VS Gentleman;
-And the only good Battle level, because it has two songs that I like, She Wolf VS Where Have You Been.
One out of four? That’s a pretty low percentage. Long story short, I hate this mode, almost as much as I hate the Hold My Hand routines; but there are four Battle levels, against only two Hold My Hand levels, so I felt like the whole Battle mode deserved the top spot on this list.

Now that I’ve weeded out the worst, it’s time to discuss the best. Join me Monday when I begin counting down my Top 24 favorite Just Dance levels!