Review – Just Dance 2020

Reviewing a Just Dance game was something I knew that was bound to happen in my life sooner or later. As a former metalhead who used to have shoulder-length hair and a disdain for any kind of music without distorted guitars back in my high school years, I guess that being curious about a happy and colorful dancing game is the ultimate proof that I’ve broadened my musical taste horizons ever since. And you know what? Dancing to the tunes included in Just Dance 2020 was extremely embarrassing, but it was still fun.

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Reliving the soundtrack of the like two sweet sixteen parties I was invited to back in the day.

Does Just Dance even need an introduction at this point? The series is the epitome of what the “hardcore” gaming audience shuns, but casuals buy in stacks. This dancing series has sold more than 67 million copies, with Wii versions of its games still being sold to this day, outselling the PS4 and Xbox One versions by a huge margin. It’s also basically the only game that still makes the Kinect feel somewhat relevant nowadays, even though you can (and honestly, should) use a mobile phone as your motion-sensoring controller.

Being the first time I ever played one of those, I was impressed with how simple and user-friendly the game’s entire interface is. It took me a minute to download the Just Dance mobile app and pair it with my copy of the game. It took me an extra minute to create my profile, to be introduced to the handful of modes at my disposal, and a few seconds later I was already dancing to the Backstreet Boys’ “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)“. That’s a gem from my childhood, don’t judge me.

I wasn’t expecting for a mobile phone to be such a decent motion controller. I have no idea how Ubisoft came up with the conclusion that my Samsung Galaxy could act as a fake joycon/Wiimote, but it works pretty well, a lot better than it should. You can control the entire game with your phone, if you so choose, and that means even navigating through the menus being displayed on your TV, with negligible input lag. Yeah, I’m aware this might be old news for Just Dance‘s massive casual audience, but for someone new to the series like myself, I was actually impressed with how dedicated Ubi is with making this game as accessible as possible.

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Ra-Ra-Rasputin!

Being a music game, Just Dance 2020 lives and dies by its setlist. That was the part I was worried about, as I was expecting for this game to basically feature only the biggest dance hits of 2019. While I wasn’t exactly wrong, as there is a ton of weird EDM and K-Pop I can’t stand, Just Dance 2020 featured an impressive variety of genres, ranging from a ton of reggaeton (a genre I actually do like, even if I’m wearing a t-shirt from a Norwegian black metal band as we speak), hip hop, the aforementioned Backstreet Boys, and even some more esoteric choices, like Monty Python‘s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” and the Can-Can. Yes, you read that right, the French dance act from the 1800’s. Finally, “Baby Shark” is included in here, for all the four year olds out there.

Another neat addition is the All-Stars mode, a little mode meant to celebrate the series’ tenth anniversary. In it, you control the franchise’s panda mascot, which has been infamously present in basically every single Ubisoft E3 presentation in recent memory, playing a few songs that have been included in previous iterations of the franchise. There are ten songs, one from each previous Just Dance game. Some of the songs featured in this mode include the classic euro-disco tune “Rasputin”, as well as a song by the eternal Barry White. Finally, there’s also Just Dance Unlimited, a paid subscription service that unlocks literal hundreds of songs from other versions for you to play. Guys, I already have to live in shame with the fact I’ve bought more than 150 Rock Band songs over the years. I’m not going to do the same thing again!

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My colleagues hate the fact I love this song… and bought it on Rock Band 4… and 100%’d it on Expert…

I am pretty sure that, if you’re not into dancing, my review won’t make a difference to you. You will probably ignore Just Dance 2020 like you’ve been doing with the previous ten games in the franchise. I decided to give the franchise a go and was pleasantly surprised with its accessibility, simple gameplay, and eclectic soundtrack. I still suck at dancing and wasn’t able to play more than four songs in a row, but had more fun than expected while doing so. Maybe that will happen with you as well. I mean, there’s even a Monty Python song in here, for crying out loud.

 

Graphics: 7.0

The art style is stupidly colorful and full of visual effects, but it’s basically there to tell you which dancing moves to perform. Given how this is a game also released on the Wii, you can’t go overly complex in the graphical department.

Gameplay: 9.0

Never thought holding my phone on one hand and doing dance gestures would count as a better motion-based controller than a Wiimote, but here we are.

Sound: 8.0

A music game lives and dies by its selection of playable tunes, and while the game’s main roster of songs can best be described as “what the kids are listening to nowadays”, the anniversary mode songs were a positive surprise. Plus, there’s a Monty Python song in here. That’s brilliant.

Fun Factor: 7.5

It’s a dancing game with a varied, but limited, selection of in-disc songs. But the inclusion of an anniversary mode with well-known hits from previous iterations makes this version a bit meatier than expected.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Just Dance 2020 is available now on PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia and Wii (yeah, you read that right, the WII).

Reviewed on Xbox One.

A copy of Just Dance 2020 was provided by the publisher.

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