I’m going to be brutally honest, I have never really been the dancing type. In fact, one reason why I nominated myself to review Just Dance 2018 is because, frankly, I’m sick of listening to the Bruno Mars track found in the demo on a constant loop – thanks to my four-year-old daughter obsessively practicing the number down to the last 8-beat. My teenage son, on the other hand, has nailed the sequence down to perfection. Mainly because I sort of ask… well, force him to play it with her as a part of his big brotherly duties.
So I have decided to unleash my inner Ren McCormack and show them how it’s really done. After all, a title such as this is best enjoyed with others, and what better way to review a game like this than by getting the whole family involved.
Last year’s edition saw people from all over the globe dust off their Wii for their annual fix. Yes, you read that right. This is because the two-generation old console version sold 44 percent higher than any other platform out there. That’s probably due to the fact that the game sells for half the price on Wii than it’s modern-day successors. Now, that’s what I call a lot of dancing grannies.
Like a hypochondriac with a purse full of placebos, most consumers are more than happy to bask in the smoke and mirrors that the franchise provides. After all, your Joy-Con is never going to accurately measure your performance nor are the mobile phones that you can conveniently sync to use as extra controllers. But, add some sort of scoring system and a few bottles of Lambrini, and you have a group of casual gamers convinced that they can make it as the next big dance act since Diversity stormed Britain’s Got Talent.
One of the new additions to Just Dance 2018 is the Kids Mode that simplifies the required on-screen actions so the little-un’s can jive too. It also automatically randomises different tracks for them to play if they are a little too young to navigate the menus. However, if they are anything like my daughter, they will dance to Moana a few times and then want you to put that blasted Bruno Mars track back on anyway. It is a great little addition though, especially because there are not many titles out there that cater to the younger generation so effortlessly.
Anyone that does have young children, especially girls, will understand the current obsession of blind bags and egg toys. Well, Just Dance 2018 feeds this plastic obsession with a capsule machine. Basically, you earn Mojo Coins by completing certain objectives and gaining high scores. Each turn of the machine costs 100 Mojo Coins that reward you with things like alternative choreography for existing songs in your library as well as stickers that make up bigger pictures to unlock extra tracks. The capsule machine does happen to be a fun additive to extend the overall replayability. It most certainly entertained our youngest, as we dance our backsides off to provide her with capsules in various colours to crack open. However, the whole thing does rely on the Just Dance Unlimited subscription service a little too heavily, as the better rewards are usually found there.
After working away through a few songs, you unlock a three-month trial of Just Dance Unlimited. This subscription service provides around 300 tracks with more added all the time. It does flesh out the experience significantly and gives you a better opportunity to claim more funds for the capsule machine. However, it does dampen the content that the game itself contains. The game has around 40 tracks to dance to and what’s on offer will certainly depend on your musical preference. This certainly questions the relevance of a yearly edition of the nearly decade-old franchise. If you want to get the current Nintendo Switch version, you’re going to be paying full price for marginally new content. If you want the added benefit of Just Dance Unlimited, then expect to fork out more. It feels as if the Just Dance series should just adopt the subscription and rental route altogether, for I can see the stock content feeling quite barren without it once the trial ends.
There is Nintendo Switch exclusive content found in Just Dance 2018 with the most interesting being five Double Rumble choreographies. This mode makes full use of the HD Rumble capabilities found within the Joy-Con and probably the best iteration of the feature since playing with marbles in 1-2-Switch. There are five topics that you can participate in: Handyman, a Mariachi band, Sport, Chef and Witch’s cauldron. Some of these effects work very well such as sawing through a piece of wood or tilting a rainstick, whilst others can be a bit hit and miss. This is mainly due to the fact that you have to coordinate your actions alongside the on-screen visuals for the timed rumble to take effect. I couldn’t help but feel it would’ve worked far better if the feature executed in real time, regardless of whether you miss your on-screen cue or not.
The other Nintendo Switch exclusive feature is a remake of a Super Mario track that had first appeared in Just Dance 3, although I couldn’t tell if it will be eventually unlocked in your library, or a restricted Just Dance Unlimited feature – as I had to search for it there to find it. The absence of “Jump Up, Superstar!” from Super Mario Odyssey is almost blasphemous. Ubisoft and Nintendo seem to have a solid friendship at the moment so it has got to happen sooner or later, surely.
The online mode comes in the form of World Dance Floor. Here you can compete against others around the world or combine your efforts to take out scheduled bosses. There’s also happy hour events to take part in to earn extra Mojo Coins which certainly fed my son’s competitive nature. Just bear in mind that whilst you’re sweating your back out like it’s the grand finals of Strictly Come Dancing, your opponent could very well be just sat on the couch with a bag of Wotsits doing Vogue hand gestures – hitting Megastar rank scores every time.
It is a party game by nature though, so I decided to invite the neighbours around for a boogie. You can have up to six players going at it at once but unfortunately, you cannot mix the Joy-Con and phone controllers simultaneously. So everyone in my house who participated held a phone, and I handed the dummy Joy-Con to the young kids. Everyone had a ball dancing to the likes of Ghostbusters and Cotton Eye Joe until my significant other managed to tiger knee the next door neighbour’s kid across the room. This temporarily stalled the fun whilst I did the adult thing by giving her a standing 8-count. She was fine, her right eye drifted for a while afterwards like, but she was back on her feet in no time. To be honest, I was personally more concerned with someone flinging a phone into the TV whilst punching it out to Queen’s Another One Bites The Dust.
Just Dance 2018 does the job it intends to do on its annual basis. The minor additions don’t really warrant a full purchase as the Just Dance Unlimited feature is starting to make the rest of the content feel a little redundant. However, it’s a great little party burner and the kids seem to love it. With missions, calorie counter and a Dance Lab in which you can live out your dream of being a flamingo or a ninja, there is plenty to do as a whole. Of course, don’t go in expecting it to read your moves or calories burn count accurately, but at the end of the day, it’s not exactly esports now is it? The great thing about being a Nintendo Switch owner, though, is that you could always take it with you and stick an external speaker in the headphone jack to instantly become the saviour of a dire festive get-together. Just remember to have plenty of room available, as it could all very well end in tears.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Ubisoft