Just Dance is a series that likely needs no introduction; for the last nine years Ubisoft has regularly released a new version of its smash-hit franchise every October, helping the franchise’s sales to reach staggeringly high figures. This year is (predictably) no different as Just Dance 2018 takes over as the newest entry, hoping to continue the series’ incredible success. Does the game do enough to make upgrading from previous versions worth it, though? Let’s find out.
At the heart of things, Just Dance 2018 is very much the same game it has always been. The gameplay itself is identical to past versions – your task is to mimic dance routines being displayed on screen, accumulating points as you try to achieve a five-star rating. Interestingly, though, this time around Ubisoft seems to have ditched all the madness that was introduced in last year’s instalment (weird, alien things, we’re looking at you!) and has instead created a much more standard, but pleasingly slick, experience.
The game’s main mode starts with a small selection of songs available – dance through just two of these and you’ll unlock several more with a further two dances after that being the key to unlocking the majority of the game. When that fourth dance has been completed, seeing the amount of content that unlocks initially seems really impressive – unfortunately, though, it isn’t all here to stay (more on this later). With everything now unlocked, you are free to scroll up and down through numerous categories of songs, picking and choosing at whichever ones take your fancy.
Completing a song earns you ‘mojo’ – an in-game currency of sorts that can be used to unlock even more things. After collecting 100 mojo, you will be given the chance to spend it in a machine – doing so will give you a random item such as a sticker that will go towards unlocking more new songs, new choreographies for existing songs, or even more mojo in return. There are well over 200 things to collect through this method, so getting your hands on everything will take you a good while. Stopping after every few songs to spin the machine is a good way to have regular short breaks but also provides an extra incentive to complete dances in the first place.
The slightly bizarre ‘Just Dance Machine’ mode from last year seems to have been completely reimagined into a new (much more sensible) guise called ‘Dance Lab’. Here, you can play through episodes which are unlocked via the mojo machine and each one has you dancing through various styles. Sometimes these are real dance genres but they can also be comically ridiculous ones such as ‘motorbike riding’ or ‘being a ninja’. On top of this, Fitness Mode returns this year – adding live updates to show you how many calories you’re burning as well as giving you the option to create workout setlists. World Dance Floor is back too, offering a decent online mode where you compete with other players in real time.
The Switch version of the game features some nice little bonuses that help to make it stand out from other console options. Firstly, a song called ‘Just Mario’ is available to play via a subscription service (again, more on this soon) and, secondly, the HD Rumble feature in the Joy-Con controllers has been utilised to good effect. When playing through any of the 40 songs included in the base game, the beat of the song will pulse through the Joy-Con in your hand, helping you to feel the rhythm. Naturally, if you choose to play with a smartphone as your controller (which is an option that has been included for the past few instalments), you will be losing out on this small benefit. On top of this, a new mode called Double Rumble has you playing though songs with a Joy-Con in either hand, introducing two-handed routines with vibrations going through each controller.
All of these modes and upgrades are nice touches and a new section called ‘Kids’ - which houses a number of child friendly routines - shows that quite a lot of thought has gone into making this version of the game something more than its most recent predecessor. Despite this, though, it still doesn’t feel like enough of a reason to upgrade. The main bulk of the game’s content comes from Just Dance Unlimited (an online subscription service which provides you with an ever-growing list over 300 songs). Buying a copy of Just Dance 2018 on Switch gives you access to a three-month trial of this service and, as we mentioned earlier on, seeing all of the goodies it presents makes the game feel more than worth it. The moment those songs get taken away, though, you’ll realise that unless you cough up the extra cash you’ll be left with a rather bare-bones game.
The tracks included as standard are mostly made up of chart favourites including Ed Sheeran, Katy Perry, Beyoncé, and Bruno Mars with a few rather different options such as Queen, Hatsune Miku, and a version of ‘Carmen (Overture)’. As you may expect, by adding the subscription to your game, the variations in content available grows quite dramatically and you’ll be able to play through favourites from earlier Just Dance releases. If you’re happy to keep up to date with this subscription, Just Dance 2018 on Switch offers one of the best, easiest to navigate, and in some ways most ‘mature’ experiences that the franchise has ever seen. Without the subscription, though, the differences between this version and older ones (which you’ll likely be able to find at a cheaper price) isn’t enough to feel worth it.
In a strange twist for a series that you would expect to be built around drawing in new consumers, Just Dance 2018 feels like a perfect match for those who already love the games and are really serious about their dancing, yet does nothing to draw in newcomers. In some ways, this year’s edition feels like it is almost a ‘greatest hits’ for its hardcore fans – the one entry that you’ll always fall back to just to play through the best stuff. Yet with such a hefty cost needed to access all of the game’s content, only the most serious will get true enjoyment here.
I have never seen the appeal of this series and yet it sells really well, so it must be doing something right. Didn't this year's Wii version sell better than all other versions?
Edit: It did.
This game had me at dancing Mario.
The only time of the year I get to play this is during Christmas with extended family... the rest of the year I can never find a partner..
When's the Wii review coming hmmn??
@Ervex_109 "The fitness mode should be great for burning off all those mice pies come January. Dancing on the go, feel the flow, toe to toe, here we go!"
I think once Wii sales reach a stage where its not worth releasing on there anymore this franchise will be finished. They're probably close to that stage now so it wouldn't be surprising if this is its finale.
@OorWullie I can't imagine these games are very costly to make, and they seem to sell pretty well for what they are. I wouldn't be surprised if we get a few more.
This game better have The Emoji Movie in it
I wish Dance Dance Revolution makes a Return on Switch.
I bought 17 as a Launch game knowing my youngster would love it. And she did , and me too. A ton of exercise based fun. I actually got a sweat on but more important,y, me and the daughter spent a lot of time laughing and being goofy. If a game can do that, then , for me at least, that is a fine game.
But then...so many solicitations to buy stuff etc....after paying full price for a game I don’t want to be hustled for money.
So, yeah, not a fan of this money grabbing approach but the game itself, in the right context, is a total blast. Don’t feel the need to buy another one though.
@Anti-Matter Oh my gosh yes! I remember I had that game on the Xbox 360. I still have the pads actually. That was a great game, but I remember being such a hardcore dancer I kept slipping off the pads. Still an awesome game though.
@Pichuka97 : I get you're kidding, but I believe I wrote a review of the 2017 game on Wii on Metacritic after having tried both the Wii and Switch versions. It's basically a bare-bones version with only the base setlist (no Unlimited or mobiles as controllers) and none of the online modes. It's also substantially cheaper than the current-gen offerings for those who are only interested in the core modes (and don't care about video/audio quality, which is still pretty decent, all things considered).
But really, people should have moved on to the Wii U or Switch versions by now. This is just getting silly.
@sillygostly Yeah, I hear you. I did buy 17 and 18 for my girlfriend though. She still uses her Wii for Netflix and Just Dance. It is pretty barebones and I know they could pull off more on the Wii if they tried (hey, it sells the most) but I digress. Though I think the Wii version has the World Dance Floor online mode still
I downloaded a demo of Just Dance on my Wii U one time, and I have literally never played it I have never even tried the demo. I think the reason is I am afraid if I play it and then I like it that I'll turn into one of those people that plays Just Dance LOL.
All i can say is when you really commit to copying the dances and having fun with your friends, these games are a blast
when i think KIDS GAME i think of songs with lyrics like this
I've been here all night
I've been here all day
And boy, got me walkin' side to side (Side to side)
I've been here all night
(Been here all night baby)
I've been here all day
(Been here all day baby)
Boy, got me walkin' side to side (Side to side)
This the new style with the fresh type of flow
Wrist icicle, ride bicycle
Come true yo, get you this type of blow
If you wanna menage I got a tricycle
@SLIGEACH_EIRE I've purchased various versions over the years. I've discovered it's one of the few things (along with booze and wedding receptions) that gets people up and dancing who normally wouldn't.
If I hadn't just purchased the 2017 edition for my daughter for the Wii U about 5 months ago, I would have definitely bought this one for the Switch. I really want to try Despecito 😄
And I completely agree about the difference in the game with and without Unlimited. Our three month trial ended and really disappointed my daughter. She's finding it hard to enjoy the game without certain songs
I've never quite understood why so many people mock and ridicule this series. While I strongly dislike the subscription service because these games used to come with nearly double the amount of songs as base content, Just Dance is a fun game at parties or family gatherings and is right at home on Nintendo consoles.
One thing the review didn’t mention was the cost of the subscription service.
I have Michael Jackson the Experience on Wii and DS, I'll stick with that! These games are fun though, if you're prepared to just go with it. But really, you only need one.
The subscription after the 3 months is the reason I will not buy this game. Too high cost for just 40 songs.
@NintenNinja16 Unlimited does. It was added to 2017 in August.
Every year I get forced to bust out my "moves" for one of these games... wish it would end.
Not surprised by Wii version doing well, it's still the most accessible and affordable version, the consumer for these games aren't silly, although I look silly dancing to this.
Is there a Wii U version? 🤔
I've never played this game before and decided to download the Demo.
Must say that I was impressed, the game is really fun and my daughter loved it.
I'm really considering buying it for Xmas as she will also get Mario I thought she could have something else to play.
Of course, I will be playing it as well with the rest of my family, the game is really easy to understand and play.
I'm surprised the review doesn't mention whether portable play is possible or not. I would have thought that would be a major feature given that its a game that benefits from more space.
I abhor this franchise.
@UmbreonsPapa That's pretty much the only reason I won't buy this. I know my nine-year-old would love it, but I can live without the extortion of "we're going to let you get used to having all these extra songs, and then we'll take them away if you don't pay for the subscription". It's a disgusting practice.
does the suscription includes the songs from Michael Jackson - The Experience?
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