Good work, Ubi! Just Dance is officially back in my good books.
I’ve had a rather love-hate relationship with the Just Dance franchise in the last few years, but Just Dance 2019 had me smiling.
The lowest point of the franchise was Just Dance 2016, a soulless beast that wanted your extra money more than anything offered up by EA or Activision that year; to put it into perspective, the Just Dance Unlimited service was 2016′s main draw card, an additional cost to those who’d bought the game. That feature launched at the same time Activision’s Guitar Hero Live offered a similar service — new songs streamed to your console of choice — but for the low, low price of free.
Just Dance 2017 was the start of a franchise course correction, returning the popular World Dance Floor — as you might get from the name, an online dance-off for players around the world — alongside crazy modes like one that required your funky fresh moves in order to power a UFO. Just Dance 2018 continued this trend, replacing the UFO mode with one tailored to your little ones. 2018‘s biggest crime was that it didn’t bring back Sweat, a simple mode that estimated the calories you were losing as your shook your groove thang.
Just Dance 2019 is the best Just Dance offering in many years, taking the best bits of the games before it to present a simple, efficient dancing experience. Kids mode returns, as does World Dance Floor… and, as you might have gathered from my praise, Sweat mode is also back. World Dance Floor also boasts cross-platform play, meaning you’ll be playing against those on other platforms unless you opt out. It’s a small little detail, but one gamers are really digging of late — I’m not sure why Ubisoft hasn’t made more noise about that fact.
Just Dance Unlimited is still a thing, this time offering 400 songs (as compared to 300 in 2018); everyone who buys the game gets a 30-day trial subscription to the streaming service, and in a couple hours of play, I wasn’t pestered to try to extend that unless I went through in-game menus and brought up the Unlimited sub-menu.
If you’re new to Just Dance, it’s really the granddaddy of ’em all (and has beat out favourites like Dance Central). Your task is to dance, mirroring the moves made by an on-screen dancer. Tracing is either performed by a console camera app like Xbox’s Kinect or the PlayStation camera, though you can also opt to use a Wiimote, Joy-Con or smartphone (with Just Dance companion app) — the game is basically available on every console ever made — and have that handheld track the movements of your right hand. In-game challenges and higher-difficulty remixes can put a technical emphasis on proceedings, but on the whole, things are simply meant to be enjoyable and fun. Crazy neon visuals will do that to a game.
If you’ve still got a console camera, use it over the smartphone app, just because you’ll have your hands free and can actually concentrate on dancing (and avoid the temptation of simply swinging your arm around to match movements). More so than last year, I kept disconnecting my iPhone from the game by accidentally clicking on its lock button while busting a move; double-tapping the Xbox Guide button to then hit Y and take a screenshot also disrupts the smartphone pairing for some reason.
The only real failing I have with Just Dance 2019 is that its base catalog of songs is rather foreign to me — and that’s without factoring in a host of songs that are ACTUALLY by foreign artists. I’m getting old, but I’m not that old — Top 40 songs are largely absent unless you jump back into the songs you’ll (temporarily) have with Just Dance Unlimited. That said, I mightn’t know the songs I’m dancing to, but Ubisoft’s done a wonderful job in picking upbeat, fun songs to dance to regardless. Like last year’s offering, Just Dance 2019 is an inoffensive, exercise conducive title fun alone or in pairs. If you want to boogie, consider it.
Just Dance 2019 is available on Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, Wii, Wii U and Switch.
Just Dance 2019 was reviewed using a promotional code on Xbox One X, as provided by the publisher. Click here to learn more about Stevivor’s scoring scale.