Just Dance 2017 Nintendo Switch Review: Dancing in the Streets

Credit: Ubisoft
Credit: Ubisoft /

Just Dance 2017 boogies onto the Nintendo Switch as a launch title, bringing with it a new way to jam to your favorite tunes on the unique new console.

Developer: Ubisoft

Publisher: Ubisoft

Platforms: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii, Wii U, Nintendo Switch (version reviewed)

Release Date: October 25, 2016 (original); March 3rd, 2017 (Nintendo Switch)

It’s certainly no surprise that Just Dance 2017, the Ubisoft game on every console even ones collecting dust on used game store shelves, showed up on the Nintendo Switch. But while the announcement itself (made all the way back at E3 2016, when the Switch was still the NX!) was nothing to remark about, that shortchanges the brilliance of a dance title on the console perhaps best suited for it.

Just Dance 2017, a game about using motion controls to dance either alone or with friends, seems a match made in heaven for a portable, local multiplayer-focused console like the Nintendo Switch with its built-in motion controls. You’re no longer confined to breaking it down in your living room; now you can shimmy it up anywhere you feel confident enough doing so.

just dance 2017
Credit: Ubisoft /

To the untrained eye, Just Dance 2017 on Nintendo Switch hasn’t changed from its other console iterations. You’re still looking at the same set of dancing game modes:

  • Just Dance: The basic game mode that lets you and up to five others with Joy-Cons dance along to selected songs in either solo, duet, trio, or quartet dances, either as rivals or in a co-op mode.
  • Just Dance Machine: An, um “story” mode where you must dance accurately through various songs to power a spaceship to send some aliens home. Each set of five dances is themed around a different dance style.
  • World Dance Floor: Allows you to dance to songs in real-time with other players online from around the world by competing in tournaments or collaborating for in-game rewards, such as new avatars.
  • Just Dance TV: Watch videos of other people dancing, if you want to.
  • Dance Quest: Another campaign of sorts where you compete against the AI on a difficulty level of your choice to dance through various sets, unlocking more avatars as you go.
  • Sweat and Playlists: Offers several pre-made dance playlists plus the ability to create your own or put the songs on non-stop shuffle. Intended for workouts, since the songs play back to back without a break.
  • Just Dance Unlimited: A paid subscription service offering 200+ more songs than are in the base game. A free three-months worth of the subscription is included with each physical copy (digital availability unknown since the eShop isn’t open prior to Switch console launch).

The Joy-Con motion controls are easily the best possible control set-up with their small, lightweight structure and comfort in your hand.

With the listed game modes, Just Dance 2017’s content value hasn’t changed from its October release on other consoles. The dances are fun, and there’s little pressure to perform especially well since the only real rewards are avatars and exercise. I particularly loved the duets, trios, and quartets in Just Dance mode, as they allowed me to dance with others while not necessarily all doing the same routine.

I’ll also take a moment to balk at the fact that over 200 songs were made available for this game via Just Dance Unlimited, but the game itself only has 40 and Ubisoft wants you to pay for more. It’s the same model we’ve seen with titles like Guitar Hero, and it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. That doesn’t make it any less frustrating, especially with the free three-month trial. Anyone who doesn’t want to pay up after three months suddenly has four-fifths of their library taken away.

just dance 2017
Credit: Ubisoft /

But I want to talk about Just Dance 2017 on the Nintendo Switch specifically because it’s oddly well-suited for the platform. The Joy-Con motion controls are easily the best possible control set-up with their small, lightweight structure and comfort in your hand. It’s easy to forget you’re even holding one as you dance, and the improved motion control tech is evident as you work your way through the more difficult numbers. Unlike previous dancing or motion-controlled games I’ve played, only once or twice did I feel that the game was not accurately scoring what I had done. Just Dance 2017 offers the option of using your mobile phone as a controller via an app, but with the Joy-Cons so easily brought everywhere with a Switch, I’m not sure why you’d bother.

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Tabletop mode is a slightly different animal, but not an inferior one. I recommend tabletop mode for those who know what the heck they are doing, as it’s more difficult to see the guiding tutorial motions in the corner on the smaller screen. Additionally, the game does not score your dances for campaign modes while in this configuration, likely due for that very reason. That’s okay! If you’re taking the Nintendo Switch on the go with this game, you’re likely not trying to work your way through Dance Quest; you’re more likely exercising or with friends. The fact that a travel mode for such a social game is available at all is impressive, even though I’m sure most folks would be apprehensive about dancing in an airport or a public park ala the Switch commercial.

Just Dance 2017 remains the best dancing video game on the market, and the Nintendo Switch takes over as the best platform to play it on simply by virtue of its unique hardware. Even though the unique offerings on the Switch console from the software itself are limited to one exclusive song on the subscription service, that doesn’t change the fact that after dancing with the Joy-Cons, I don’t even want to bother with other motion control options. Just Dance 2017 on the Nintendo Switch is a great debut for the genre on the new console, and speaks to the promise of more great Joy-Con motion-controlled games to come.. Ubisoft. . Just Dance 2017. 8

A copy of this game and a Nintendo Switch system were provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.