Monday, 30 December 2019

Just Dance 2020 ★★★☆☆

When I was a kid, almost everyone had a dance mat peripheral packed away in a dusty corner, slowly yellowing away until the connectors were lost to the annals of time. If you were particularly unlucky, your host might dust it off, especially if they knew you liked ‘games’. There’s only so many times you can hear a song before it starts to send you slowly mad. So while it’s not held in the same regard as Metal Gear Solid, there’s still a definite fondness for rhythm games in my heart.

Just Dance has been around for a decade now, improving on the mats of the past by switching for the dexterity and speed of hands and fingers. Gameplay consists of moving your body in time to the tune, with ever-increasing difficulties that only a rhythmic genius has a hope of completely perfecting. It’s as addictive as it ever was, and the game is just as responsive as I remember. Your experience is likely to vary based on your console of choice, with a number of token differences to be found if you’re using a Wii U rather than a PS4.

They’ve added 40 new songs from a variety of popular artists, and it’s reasonably diverse. (Tracks include Fit but you know it by The Streets, while more recent examples are the Old Town Road remix by Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus.) The game supports using a smartphone as a controller, while you’ll also be able to download additional tracks via Just Dance Unlimited on newer platforms. The paid subscription service adds over 500 songs, making it easier to find something that suits your personal tastes. At least you can choose between 24 hour, 1-month, 3-month, and 12-month passes.

There’s a Sweat Mode, designed to track burned calories, which is handy if you’re buying the game predominantly for exercise. There’s also a Kids Mode with the same purpose, but most are likely to leave it untouched. Finally, the All-Stars mode takes you back through some of the more memorable routines from the last decade. Considering everything, it’s safe to say that little has changed since the last release. 

Of course, Just Dance has a dedicated, hardcore fan base that will keep it going in the foreseeable future, and the games still manage to hit the right notes. It’s a shame that you’ll have to use their subscription service to get extra songs, but it’s easy to forget that we were stuck with the same tracklist in iterations from the past. However, can they really justify churning out the same game again and again with a few different songs each time? It would arguably be better sold as DLC, or they could package the game free with a 12-month subscription purchase.

It made the news after being released for the original Wii, keeping the console alive way past its traditional lifespan. In some ways, Just Dance is a bit of a relic too, but it’s hanging in there after a decade of being a decent party game option.

James Millin-Ashmore

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