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December 25, 2015

Top 24 Just Dance Levels (#12-#1)

Continuing from last Monday, here’s Part 2 of this list! Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates it! I hope you have a great day! Oh, and that goes for everyone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas, too; today, do something special! I mean, if everyone else treats today like it’s a big deal, why couldn’t you? Have fun like everyone else, go see some friends, or buy yourself a gift online. I mean, if you’re not celebrating Christmas, this means we’ve been annoying you for well over a month now with our Christmas songs, and the thousands of versions of A Christmas Carol airing on TV, and all those Holiday specials… Try to enjoy the day. Alright, are we continuing the list?

12. Diamonds (Rihanna) JD2015
Much like the earlier entry on Ellie Goulding’s “Burn”, this level is pure art. The female dancer switches from a black and white figure to a purple-haired one with a diamond-shaped ornament. The movements, while relatively complex, are in perfect sync with the audio, graceful when the song is calmer, quick when the song is more energetic. “We’re beautiful, like diamonds in the sky” indeed. Hey, diamonds in the sky; but no Lucy in sight. The world around the dancer is mostly darkness, although a single light shines upon the dancer, illuminating her. This is just… well… beautiful.

11. Just Dance (Lady Gaga) JD2014
AKA the best example of a Boss Level in the history of Just Dance. See, most songs featured in this series are between 3 and 4 minutes in length. There’s the rare one that has less than three minutes, as well as a few that have only a little over 4… Just Dance falls into that category. And, in an exercise game like this, that’s what counts as a boss level. Being the namesake of the entire franchise, this song just HAD to be in a game at some point… and boy did the development team deliver. The routine is GREAT. The song has two additional versions (On-Stage and Sweat). The background, while mostly simple, will feature glass art of past dancers in the franchise. Long story short, not only is the importance of this song for the series acknowledged, it is treated with utmost respect and features series-wide call backs. Love it, love it, love it.

10. This is Halloween (Danny Elfman) JD3
I have plenty of reasons to like a level; its routines, its dancers, the atmosphere surrounding it… or simply because it’s fun. This Is Halloween checks all four boxes. The Dance Crew features a Pumpkin-headed being, a vampire, a witch and a zombie dancing to the classic Disney tune. What’s more, Pumpkinhead is the one to bring the others to life. And, in the purest Dance Crew tradition, each character gets his or her solo moment. It should be noted that it’s a Just Dance tradition to have one Halloween-themed level in each installment, just like how there’s always at least 1 Christmas level, 1 Bollywood song, 1 Disney song, and another where a dancer plays air guitar. Featuring a great ambiance, great stylish dancers, a lot of chemistry between the characters and a very catchy Halloween tune, this is one of the best examples of a Dance Crew level out there.

9. Happy (Pharell Williams) JD2015
This level may look pretty basic, but it uses to its full potential everything that can make the surroundings more dynamic. For starters, it’s one of the rare levels that has the camera moving around the character, often zooming in. Second, the background constantly changes, from a street to a school hallway, to under a viaduct (thankfully they’re not in Quebec…), to another street, and then an ultra-colorful place, then in front of a pool… and they’re all having plenty of special effects added to them. Third, the routine is accompanied by a TON of cameos from other dancers in the franchise. Mix this with one Hell of an ear worm and an excellent choreography to accompany it, and you get what’s without a doubt one of the best levels in JD2015.

8. What You Waiting For (Gwen Stefani) JD3
Here’s another solo routine that doesn’t seem to have anything special going for it… but hey, does that mean it’s any less valid for this list? Nope! After all, this isn’t “Top 24 Most Innovative Just Dance Levels”, it’s just a list of which levels I consider my favorite. It’s true, there isn’t so much special with this level. But I still like it. Maybe it’s the dance moves. Or maybe it’s the song, which is too catchy for its own good? I can’t really explain it. I just like this song. (Though, you could have guessed that before, since this was the song closing my Just Dance 3 review…)

7. Get Lucky (Daft Punk ft. Pharell Williams) JD2014
Hi again Pharell! Hi again snazzy suits and groovy rhythm! This is a Duet level featuring one of the best songs to have come out in 2014. The dancers are wearing gold and silver, and the choreography is of an alright difficulty (not too difficult, not too easy). When the Daft Punk bit starts, the two transform into robots and do, well… robotic dance moves, duh. Although, unlike many other examples on this list, this level remains simple when talking about the backgrounds. Also, what a shame that such a great song doesn’t get alternate routines, while stuff like *urgh* #thatPOWER or Fine China get three alternate routines each…

6. Let It Go (Disney’s Frozen) JD2015
I haven’t quite caught the Frozen Fever, but I acknowledge when something is good. The film itself has a few flaws, but is still an enjoyable watch – as long as you don’t mind the cruel lack of communications that plague all the characters, which is what caused the whole damn situation to begin with. But everyone, freaking everyone knows Let It Go and has either sung it, or parodied it, or covered it, or announced their pure hatred of it. I’m sparing you my terrible singing voice. But Just Dance 2015 couldn’t let this song out of its catalog. And, to Ubisoft’s credit, they’ve done an excellent job with it! This duet has Anna and Elsa, first dancing on a snowy field… and around that moment in the song in the film where Elsa creates her ice fortress, the Elsa of this routine does the same – and the environment changes to the inside of the ice fortress. Oh, by the end, it reverts back to the snow field, sure. This level is practically a gift for all Frozen fans out there. You’ll love it, that’s for certain. The only downside is that the solo routine has to be bought from the Shop… but you don’t really need it, do you?

5. She Wolf (Falling To Pieces (David Guetta ft. Sia) JD2014
However, before JD2015’s Let It Go, the previous installment also had its ice queen. While I do think both Let It Go and She Wolf to be excellent levels, I chose She Wolf as the one I preferred among the two, because it’s even more impressive to watch. The character looks amazing, what with this tiara and this ice suit… The choreography is simple but effective and energetic, and the backgrounds… wow, the backgrounds. The character is pretty much flying across a deserted ice land. It is a marvelous sight. At the beginning, the dancer thaws herself out of the ice, and at the end, become encased in it again. And then there’s the change from light to dark, and all the touches I’m not discussing due to keeping each point of this list short… really, a thing to see.

4. Prince Ali (Disney’s Aladdin) JD2014
Three Just Dance games, three Disney songs, and they all made the list. There’s probably a reason for that, but I won’t bother looking for it. We are revisiting the classic Disney song featuring Robin Williams as the Genie. This Dance Crew is composed of Aladdin (who changes from his street attire to his Prince Ali disguise halfway through), Jasmine, Jafar and Genie- wait, why the Hell is Jafar dancing to this? This not sense makes! Ah, whatever. The background goes from the marketplace to the Cave of Wonders to the Palace. And all the way through, Aladdin plays the part of the proud, if smug, hero the song makes him to be. Aside from a few difficult moves and the need to dance with at least one other person for only a few seconds, this is an excellent level and I happily play it almost every single time I’m playing Just Dance 2014.

3. I Was Made For Loving You (KISS) JD3
Oh yeah, I mentioned earlier that this franchise had the weird tradition of including at least one dance that includes air guitar in its movements. Well, here, we have an entire air BAND, with a guitarist, a singer, a drummer and a bassist. Oh, and the drummer is a woman, which is double awesome, as the Scott Pilgrim series can attest.  Expect a lot of hammy movements, a shining moment for each member of the quartet, and lots of fun. It opens with a garage door opening (geddit? Garage band?), and then we get what’s a mostly straightforward routine, with the characters playing their instruments. Oh, simple, sure, but the team really shines through during the musical bridges of KISS’s famous song. My favorite Dance Crew of all the Just Dance games, and that’s no small praise.

2. The Fox (Ylvis) Regular AND Campfire Dance JD2015
Yeah, THAT song… and yes, the dancer is a fox, who looks like something between fursuit and actual anthropomorphism. And two backup dancers wearing orange loups. Because, “loup” is French for “wolf” and it’s a canine and it’s also the name of those party masks that only cover the ears and… ah, I’m just wasting space right now. The level opens on a children’s book opening, revealing our Trio. Yes, I know I said the middle dancer was the only important one, and it’s quite true here, but I still like this level regardless. The routine is excellent, and features some funny moves in the chorus (you know, where the singer tries many sounds to figure out which one is the fox’s cry). The level’s background also changes quite a bit, including a nighttime forest-like décor to mimic what happened in the song’s original video clip. All in all, a good level, as well as a good variant; see, JD2015 had few variants, but there’s one for this song, the Campfire Dance. This is a Duet featuring two boy scout monitors dancing to the song… by mimicking what’s being said in the song, sharing this task between them. The result is a lot of silly dance moves, much chemistry, and just plain old fun. I love both of these levels, and I just couldn’t pick one over the other. They're both awesome. For all the flak I gave JD2015 over all of the changes it made to the formula, I have to admit it, the game’s got some of the best songs.

1. Take On Me (a-ha) JD3
I don’t care if anyone says otherwise. This is one of the best songs of all time. And as a result, we get what’s without a doubt my favorite level in the entire series. The routine, given by a normal guy in stereotypical 50’s bad boy outfit (though significantly more colorful), is simple and includes some “air synthesizer” as one of the movements. The routine approaches perfection, the movement detection is spot-on, and the backgrounds, while simple, fit perfectly with the mood of the song. This is it, the perfect level. It's not even all that special, but that may be what makes it so great. The one I play every single time I pop Just Dance 3 in my Wii. Forget the Super Mario level, forget any other. Give me Take On Me.

And… this finally concludes this epic list! Phew, this was long and tough to write. I don’t think I’ll do any more lists longer than Top 12s in the future… Oh well. Officially, this is the last article before 2015 ends. Therefore, I wish to you a Happy New Year in advance. I wish you a happy 2016. Let’s pray it turns out better than this year was. On January 1st, I’ll probably have a special article published, after which I’ll start planning more stuff. I’m hoping to be posting even more frequently in 2016 than ever before!