Just Dance: The Beginning of a Dance, Dance Revolution

Sports reporter Christian Tate looks back on the video game phenomenon that is Just Dance.

Photo via r/JustDance on Reddit

Sports reporter Christian Tate looks back on the video game phenomenon that is Just Dance.

Christian Tate, Sports Reporter

On Nov. 17, 2009, gaming company Ubisoft published the first installment of a game franchise that has gone on to become the second largest title under their name. With the creation of “Just Dance”, Ubisoft created one of the most influential games of the decade.

With multiple sequels and spin-off series, the “Just Dance” catalog of games has nestled itself into the hearts and homes of millions across the globe. Despite the rocketing success that the game series has experienced, the game fought through some tough criticism to get to where it is.

After the release of the first “Just Dance”, the game was ripped to shreds from a critical standpoint. With sites like Nintendo World Report and IGN lambasting the game for its simplistic gameplay and lack of consistent motion detection, the game was seen as a rough project with loads of potential by some, and a waste of time and money by others.

Despite its poor critical reception, “Just Dance” went on to grab the attention of casual gaming audiences everywhere and cemented itself as a commercial success. If it had all of these problems, how did it sell so well? What kept people coming back to the franchise?

Well, I think the answer is simple: it’s friends. I think that GameSpot put it best during their review of the game, where they saw underneath the surface problems to see how “Just Dance” could be best played. As a single-player game, “Just Dance” never really had a shot. However, it was never meant to be played alone.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that “Just Dance” can be described as friendship in video game form. I have vivid memories of all the times I spent dancing to “I Like to Move It” with my friends, just having fun while doing silly moves with them. The game never needed to be a technical masterpiece because the value of the game came from the feelings it could elicit from a group of people just looking to have fun.

“Just Dance” ingrained itself in the hearts of its players for its ability to let its players just relax and play, but Ubisoft made the franchise’s quality known to the critics with the second installment of “Just Dance” title: “Just Dance 2”.

With an expanded song list [48 songs plus downloadable content for “Just Dance 2” versus 33 songs and no downloadable content for “Just Dance”] and its noticeable improvements in quality, Ubisoft found its formula and stuck with it. With additional judgements in the rating systems of the moves, the addition of the “Duet Mode”, and the addition of the single-player “Just Sweat” mode, Ubisoft addressed nearly every criticism levied at the predecessor of “Just Dance 2”.

After the critical and commercial success of “Just Dance 2,” the franchise continues to pump out new games each year and has become a gaming touchstone for casual audiences. Ubisoft believed in their game and the rest, as they say, is gaming history.