Reviews

Just Dance 2022 Review: If it ain’t broke…

... don't fix it. And keep quiet about in-game subscription services while you're at it.

Just Dance is a long-running franchise with a lot in common with the likes of FIFA, NHL, Madden and Call of Duty. I’ve personally taken a break since Just Dance 2019 after a long dance of loving it, then hating it the next year, then loving it the next and… well, you get the picture. With some features being added and others removed, each iteration boiled down to simple assessment: is this one to get or skip?

In the case of Just Dance 2022 it’s mostly a yes with a little no.

Before we get into that, let’s summarise Just Dance. Your ultimate goal with each song is to receive a 5-star rating — or to go slightly even better with a Superstar one on top of that — as a dancer. This is accomplished by mirroring the performers you see on screen as best you can. Songs range from easy to extreme, meaning you don’t have rhythm to enjoy yourself… but it certainly helps.

Whereas most of us starting off playing wielding a Wiimote or using Kinect to track our moves, Just Dance has moved onto Joy-Cons on Switch, the PlayStation Camera on PS4 & PS5 or the Just Dance Controller app across any available platform. The latter control option has now been rebranded as “A Ubisoft Original” which really annoys me because 1) it’s unnecessary, and 2) really should be “An Ubisoft Original” but I digress.

While those using a Joy-Con or the companion app can cheat the system by simply moving their right hand in time with the song, there’s far more enjoyment in actually dancing of course. An upbeat song list is accompanied by neon lights and crazy visuals to help get you into the mood.

Weird branding aside, the companion app seems a lot more stable than the last time I experienced it; it didn’t break connection when I was stuffing around and taking screenshots, and didn’t even flinch when I received a phone call the one time. My arm got tired about after 45 minutes of dancing, but I blame that on my new Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 and its heft in folded form. A Joy-Con would help on Switch because of its weight, while the PS4 and PS5 remain the best, hands-free, choice if you’ve got the PlayStation Camera peripheral.

All of the things I’ve hated about previous years has seemed to have quieted down with 2022. First, World Dance Floor remains and is a great (cross-platform) to compete against other real-life dancers in short, three-song tournaments. 2022 also offers the Sweat mode, one that helps you track the calories (the game estimates) you’ve burned while dancing… though I don’t think there’s a way to turn on Sweat within World Dance Floor. For the little ones in the house, Kids mode offers up easier moves for songs like the ever-popular “Baby Shark”.

Actually, that’s not entirely correct: the likes of “Baby Shark” are actually part of the Just Dance Unlimited subscription option, which offers up a catalog of over 700 songs. Those who purchase Just Dance 2022 get a one-month trial of Unlimited, and any time you hit up the World Dance Floor or Quick Play, 2022 loves to throw songs at you that aren’t “on-disc” (not that ‘on-disc’ is an actual thing anymore). Players might get a three-month trial of the service depending on their Ubisoft Connect status, though I’m not entirely sure — I was offered up messages that had both time periods within the same messaging (see below).

I understand that music licensing is incredibly difficult (and costly), so on one hand I understand the premise of Unlimited. Ubisoft makes money on the service, provides a library of songs to players and also can afford to keep said library. Unlimited is also one of very little subscription services that doesn’t auto-renew. You want to drop $14.95 AUD for a three-month membership the one time? You can do that and won’t have to worry about making a note in your calendar to cancel it.

While a library of 700 songs sounds incredible, there’s a lot of filler. By that, I mean songs in different languages that dancers can certainly appreciate but won’t really get into. The other red flag with the service is that you need the latest version of Just Dance to unlock the entire library; while approximately 100 new songs have been added since Just Dance 2021, those with last year’s game can’t access the new hotness even through they’re plunking money down on a subscription. If you want to be current, you’ll need to drop $80 AUD on the base game before deciding to keep your sub current as well. That starts to add up.

The whole business model leaves a bad taste in my mouth and otherwise tarnishes a near-perfect, joyful experience. It also makes it that much harder to recommend — I’m loving it right this second, but that won’t be the case in a couple months. When my Unlimited trial lapses, I’ll then be locked down into a library that admittedly has bangers like Todrick Hall’s “Nail, Hair, Hips Heels”, Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls)” and Justin Timberlake’s “Rock Your Body” but also has songs I’ve never ever heard of. Lots of those, actually… and simply knowing a song exists doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll enjoy it.

Just Dance 2022 is now available on Xbox One, Xbox Series S & X, PS4, PS5 and Switch.

7.5 out of 10

The good

  • Fun, frenzied dance.
  • Simplified Kids mode is great for little ones.
  • World Dance Floor and Sweat mode are great.
  • An improved companion app (compared to 2019).

The bad

  • Ubisoft REALLY wants you to subscribe to Just Dance Unlimited.
  • The game’s song list isn’t that strong without Unlimited.

Just Dance 2022 was reviewed using a promotional code on Xbox Series X, as provided by the publisher. Click here to learn more about Stevivor’s scoring scale.

Just Dance 2022

4 November 2021
PS4 PS5 Switch Xbox One Xbox Series S & X
 


This article may contain affiliate links, meaning we could earn a small commission if you click-through and make a purchase. Stevivor is an independent outlet and our journalism is in no way influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative.

About the author

Steve Wright

Steve's the owner of this very site and an active games journalist for the past ten years. He's a Canadian-Australian gay gaming geek, ice hockey player and fan. Husband to Matt and cat dad to Wally and Quinn.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment