Just Dance has been a mainstay in Ubisoft’s yearly release line-up and this year they’re celebrating their 10-year existence. This 10-year theme is an element they’ve drawn throughout the game, with an All-Star campaign mode and Sticker sheets to fill in highlighting the series’ finest moments.
While you wouldn’t catch me doing any extravagant moves on the dance floor, in the privacy of my living room I do enjoy breaking up a sweat to some groovy tunes and it sure helps that my wife and daughter are keen on joining in.
If you’re not yet familiar with the series, Just Dance is a game where you mirror the dance-moves of the on-screen character(s) and you try to get as high a score as possible. It usually offers a mix of popular and lesser-known songs to shake your extremities to.
Each year they release a version that comes pre-loaded with several songs, with a healthy mix of old & new or international & local hits. I have to admit that I’m quite happy with the tracklist in this edition. You can check the full list here:
Not shown in the video, are the songs that are tied to a specific country or region. In Belgium & the Netherlands, they added K3’s 10 000 Luchtballonnen, something that will be particularly appreciated by the younger audience.
I’m not kidding. When my 4-year-old daughter heard this track was included. She danced to it three times in a row. With my son acting as her biggest fan.
— BloodyGoodReviews (@Bloodyspasm) November 16, 2019
As you may notice in the video, she’s not even using a Joycon. It was hard to convince her to hold it correctly and even with the strap on, I wasn’t entirely convinced of the safety of my TV. Or my son for that matter, in order of importance (I’m joking). This is a testament to the game’s strength though: you don’t need to be actively scored to enjoy dancing to the music. In fact, you’ll often see Just Dance present at big gaming conventions, with only a handful of people in the front dancing to get a decent ranking, but the majority of dancers just having a blast in the back.
While I touched the topic of kids who love to play this game, it’s clear that this is a large part of their target demographic, with the playlist for kids taking up one of the three main menu slots. Parents everywhere around the world will be glad to hear that one of the songs selected here this year is none other than… Baby Shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo! </Sarcasm)
One new addition to Just Dance 2020, is the All-Star mode. It’s a single-player campaign with one song for each year the game has existed. You’re not required to set a high score though, so anyone can just breeze through it. At the end, you’ll be rewarded with an exquisite choreography of High Hopes by Panic! at the disco.
I’ve got to hand it to Ubisoft though: The visually stunning backgrounds and outfits have never looked better than in their latest offering. Seeing the screen shake as a giant tank rolls by in rhythm to the beat and your own dance moves just feels awesome. It won’t take long until you find a few songs that are perfectly in line with your tastes. Personally I never really felt the itch to repeat the same track over and over to improve my scores, however. I’d rather just play a new song each time.
And that’s where Just Dance Unlimited comes in. The 40 tracks included on your cartridge will most likely last you the better part of a month, but when you get thirsty for more you can enter Ubisoft’s subscription model and get access to more than 500 tracks. It’s great that this service exists and at $24.99 they’re not exactly charging exuberant prices for a year (just don’t get the $2.99/day deal, you’d be a fool). This does raise the question if it’s worth paying for the new version every year: you can just as easily access the majority of songs via Just Dance 2018 or 2019.
What I did appreciate is that they keep track of your data across versions: I had already logged quite some time into JD2018 and when I logged into my Ubisoft account, all my high scores where there, waiting to be improved.
What doesn’t get carried over is your character’s progression, which makes sense: levelling up and earning money to spend on the slot machine is pretty addictive and it feels nice to have a fresh start and power through those early levels again. Each time you spend your coins, you get a random reward ranging from stickers to avatar, backgrounds and titles.
I played the game on the Nintendo Switch this time around, which means you get to use the Joycon or your mobile to register your movements. The latter of which is less accurate, leading to a lot of missed “Perfects” you should have gotten and a few “Supers” you had no right of obtaining. Added onto this is that only your right hand really gets tracked. You can easily get a great score, standing still and basically just trying to mirror the position of your right hand with the on-screen character’s left hand. That’s a technical limitation you can’t easily overcome without the help of extra peripherals like a Kinect for example, so I can’t very well fault the game for working with the limited possibilities in existence.
One last nitpick, if you’ll allow me: you’ll find that the images in this review are all taken from their press kit, whereas I normally snap my own pics when I do an article. The option to take screenshots or record video has unfortunately been disabled in this game, most likely to avoid licensing issues. It’s a feature I often missed, as I like to share what game I’m playing to Social Media now and then.
Just Dance 2020 has one of the best tracklists yet, amazing choreographies and flat-out stunning animations for both the dancers and the backgrounds. You don’t have to look much further if you’re searching for the perfect party game. You’d be hard-pressed not to have a great time with this game. It does bear mentioning that you’re really only getting 40 songs for the asking price, which is an especially important consideration for people who already own a previous instalment. The subscription-based Just Dance Unlimited is pretty much a necessity if you’re looking for any longevity.
(A Nintendo Switch Review copy was provided by Ubisoft)