As a series, Just Dance, is at this stage, almost a part of the video game furniture. Probably that snazzy lamp you bought back in 2009 that you didn’t really need all that much, it just seemed to go well with those candlesticks (you know, when candlesticks were a fad, and got shoehorned into everything). But once a year, you look at it, turn it on, and declare it is indeed a snazzy, albeit dated, lamp before switching it off and forgetting about its existence for another twelve months. This year however, Just Dance a bit more determined that you look at its damn lamp for longer than a few seconds, so this time the lamp has extra lighting settings and a kid-friendly button. Will that be enough to make it valuable? Or is it time to put it on eBay?
On the surface, Just Dance 2018 is still the same day-glo dance ‘em up that the previous entries were. The same collection of modern pop hits and the odd crowd pleaser for anyone born before the turn of the century. So where’s the extras? Well, first up is that kid friendly button. Or in reality, a kid-friendly mode that features specially-adapted songs for the young uns, and that’s smashing to be honest. Not every kid is going to be obsessed with Just Dance, so finding a way to get more to at least give it a try is a positive step for a series born of the need to bring people together to boogie.
Not so new, but just as essential is Just Dance Unlimited, a subscription service (the game comes with a free 3 month trial) that allows you to play a slew of Just Dance tracks old and new. It’s a smart move that truly expands the scope for any party/family gathering you care to roll this edition out at. In the modern age, being restricted to a small platter of tracks seems silly, and rather than paying for individual tracks at ridiculous prices, a single payment gets you all that is good, bad, and embarrassing about popular music.
The core Just Dance experience is so utterly refined at this point that there’s really not much to say about it. It still plays in a fairly responsive manner, and the previous introduction of mobile phones as controllers has been improved upon this time round. The usual system of star ratings and scores to aim for and beat is still there, and the online battling is there, doing a decent enough job without really offering much in the way of means to be competitive.
I could pick on the basic tracklisting as a negative, because taste or no taste, there’s a lot of garden variety humdrum toss, but to do so seems a bit futile seeing as you can just pop anything from the Unlimited sub on. In fairness, there are some genuinely good tunes in there, just very few to appeal to an audience wider than the young. Highlights include ‘How Far I’ll Go’ from the excellent Disney film Moana ( shame that’s the only one though), Beyonce’s ‘Naughty Girl’, Queen’s ‘Another One Bites the Dust’, and there’s even a Hatsune Miku track in there (Love Ward) for that audience.
The truly risible songs are mostly so unmemorable that they escape my memory. I just know that Ed Sheeran’s name appeared once, and that was bad enough. Plus points though for the bloody awful to the point of genius that is ‘Beep Beep, I’m a Sheep’ by LilDeuceDeuce, a song so powerfully terrible I almost considered writing Ed Sheeran an apology. Still, at least it’s aware it’s crap and embraces it instead of being an utter tossbag about it by insisting it has artistic integrity.
Anyway, Just Dance 2018. It’s a snazzy lamp you bought nearly a decade ago, but now it has some fancy new parts to make it a bit more modern and relevant. A shame that part of the lightbulb is covered in slow-cooked catsick from a manky ginger tom though.