Just Dance is the last quintessential dancing party game series left with new entries in it. The Xbox’s ill fated Kinect had the excellent Dance Central games, but after Microsoft basically erased Kinect from history, that series was dead in the water. Just Dance 2018 is the next iteration in the Just Dance series and still remains the top notch party game it has always been. but is that all it still has to offer?
There are a lot of good songs on offer on the disc, with modern music hits like “Despacito” and “Shape of You” on there, as well as a few classics like “Footloose” and “Daddy Cool”. By including classics in there, the game makes itself accessible for when you have the whole family around, especially with the Christmas period fast approaching. The game requires a motion tracking camera on both Xbox One and PS4, but you can also use a companion app to act as the controller. Just Dance 2018 is possibly the most polished game in the series to date. That being said, it has been a winning formula for the last three years, so all that really needs doing is a few tweaks here and there. The gameplay is solid, and there was never a time when the game froze or didn’t register the wrong movement outside of a couple of instances, but that wasn’t the game’s fault, more the technology supporting it.
The few tweaks that are here make everything easier and get you to the meat of the game quickly, which is exactly what you want. The menus are nicely laid out and include a new kids mode aimed at the younger players, which is good for those avid dancers with young ones.
Using the Kinect to play Just Dance 2018 is brilliant, which is a rarity for the now discontinued accessory. It tracks movements with almost pinpoint accuracy 99.99% of the time, with only the odd move here and there being tracked incorrectly. Songs are fun to dance to, and the grind to a 5 star rating is enjoyable but even better when you play with others, which is where games like Just Dance shine. The game is so much fun to break out a house party and get an old fashioned dance battle going amongst friends. After being an avid Dance Central player until I made the jump to next gen back in 2014, I loved playing Just Dance 2018, but I can only play it for a short amount of time on my own. Playing on your own is fun, but it does get bland very quickly. At least in the old days of Dance Central, they had a goofy campaign to play on your own, but there isn’t even something similar in Just Dance 2018, which is disappointing to see. Some of the moves as well can be challenging and do take some time mastering, but they can be rewarding in the long run.
Now comes the sort of rant part of this review, and it has to involve the Just Dance unlimited subscription on offer. Games as a service is becoming more and more a part of this industry. Most AAA games now include a microtransaction-based service within it, with the majority of them being loot boxes. Ubisoft have thought to capitalise on the success of the subscription model of Netflix or Now TV by giving people a cross between a season pass and a monthly subscription. The cost of this is £24.99 for the year, and it gives you new songs and content throughout the year till they bring out the next iteration of Just Dance. Season passes are easier to accept as you sort of know what’s coming, e.g., map packs or single-player missions, etc., but here you can’t tell if you are going to like what they have on offer. Music is very much personal preference, and the system in all music-based games in the past allowed people to pick and mix the songs that they wanted to buy, which was a good and useful feature. Bringing new songs out each month that are pre-determined and with which gamers have no say on is awful. What if in 3 months they released 10 songs and you hated them all? You will feel ripped off. I hope people will vote with their wallets before this kind of practice spreads across other titles and we end up with a Rock Band or Guitar Hero with a bunch of songs no one ever asked for.
The only real negative of the game is the mobile phone as a controller. This has been in place for the past couple of entries, and it is still as bad as ever. You would hope it would work similarly to the Wii remote, but the technology is just not accurate enough for the moves you have to perform; that is, if you even get your phone connected to the thing as there were major connection issues for me.
In conclusion, Just Dance 2018 is a solid dance game as long as you only use it for the occasional party and family gathering. The awful business practice put in place left a sour taste in my mouth and tainted my enjoyment of the game as prompts for it popped up constantly. I can only recommend this game once it hits a massive price drop on Black Friday or Christmas time as it is not worth the full price for maybe a handful of uses.
Platforms: PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Switch, Wii U, Wii
Release Date: 24th October 2017