Despite the year being crammed with game delays and shifts in release dates, one of the few constants is that of Ubisoft’s Just Dance series. The series has enjoyed a steady flow of new releases over the years, but much like any annual franchise, the big question remains the same with each passing year; is the latest addition worthy of your time and attention? Well, as far as Just Dance 2019 goes, yes, it is. Albeit, whilst it doesn’t really drive the series in new directions, it does indeed maintain the allure that’s made Just Dance so popular.
The aim of the game remains the same. You’ll load it up with the addition of either your mobile phone or your Kinect, and you’ll follow a wide range of dance routines in an attempt to achieve maximum rank per-track. In Just Dance 2019, your rank is tied to a star grading system that will dish out a maximum of five stars per-track, depending on how well you can mimic your on-screen counterpart. One thing that’s never really been an issue with Just Dance is its tracking technology, and I can safely report that Just Dance 2019 follows suit.
Whether you’re using your mobile or the Kinect, your movement is accurately tracked throughout. Starting out, many of the game’s additional options will be blocked out until you’ve at least danced to a few tracks. For instance, you’re able to first unlock the profile area in which you can assign your nickname, an avatar badge and a title. You can also track some of your progress here and before long, you’ll have access to a shuffling list of challenges, the video gallery, Just Dance Unlimited and the all important gift machine.
The gift machine is where you’ll draw most of your rewards from, presented in a very bubble gum machine-esque format. As progression is made and challenges completed, you’ll level up and earn Mojo coins respectively. These coins (one hundred per-entry) can be spent in the gift machine, which will dish out goodies; new avatars, additional dances and more. My gripe here is that many of the challenges are quite drawn out, such as dancing to three songs for fifty coins or scoring three stars in six different songs for one hundred coins.
That doesn’t sound like much effort nor time is needed, but when you’ve plugged in even just an hour of play, you start feeling the burn. It would have been nice to see something more basic on this front, or at least a consistent blend of tasks. It’s not a deal breaker by any means, but something I wanted to make a note of all the same. As expected, you’re gifted a free trial for Just Dance Unlimited – lasting one month in total. Here, you’ll have access to over four hundred songs. When you trial runs out, you’ll need to subscribe to keep it going.
That’s totally optional of course, and thanks to the fair selection of subscription tiers on offer, you’ll not be stuck for choice. The problem, on the other hand, is that if you do allow your subscription to run dry, you’re cutting your tracks from well over four hundred, to below fifty in total. Still, when all is said and done, this is the concept that Just Dance has followed for a few years now, so it shouldn’t come as a huge shock. Maybe it’s time Ubisoft just wiped the slate clean and made the franchise subscription only? Food for thought.
Pressing on. When you’ve put in some time and effort, the game will eventually fully open up. You’ll have access to the game’s main hub area, in which you’ll be afforded the option to enjoy recommendations, playlists, the game’s online component and more. By and large, it’s fair to think of this area as a quick-access section, with fluid and improved usability thrown in for good measure. In fact, that’s one of the most notable changes in Just Dance 2019. It sports a much cleaner presentation and houses a sharper, more refined user interface.
The game immediately splits itself into two sections; Kids and Just Dance. The Kids section is much what you expect it to be. Here, the younger gamer can enjoy some fun, light-hearted routines that don’t demand too much attention. Tracks such as Jingle Bells, Frozen’s Let it Go, Moana’s How Far I’ll Go, and many more are all present, complete with choreography that will have kids laughing out loud as they gleefully work towards their own stars. It’s a solid addition and again, doesn’t prove to be all that taxing. Plus, multiplayer is supported.
The game, in both Kids and Just Dance mode, can be enjoyed with up to six players locally. Despite my praise of the game’s decent tracking technology, there’s a few blemishes when playing locally. I found that on a few occasions, despite being in my allocated zone, the game would fail to register the odd movement. It’s not a disaster by any stretch, but losing out on points for something that’s not in your control can be a pain. That being said, moments like this are infrequent, so it’s easy to overlook in the grand scheme of things.
When you’re looking to take your skills to the online aspects of play, there’s a fair bit of variation to keep you on your toes. The World Dance Floor pits you up against (and with) dancers from around the globe. Players will contend for the highest score, battle against a boss in which collective efforts will chip away at a boss’ health bar, take part in tournaments and go head to head in team dance offs. There’s a global rank to chase up too, for those that enjoy those all important bragging rights. Safe to say there’s enough here to keep you going.
I quite enjoyed the fact that you can activate what’s known as a sweat mode, which in effect will tell you how many calories you have burned each track. In regards to the game’s overall difficulty, Just Dance 2019 isn’t all that punishing. There’s a nice selection of diverse tracks and routines on offer, all coming with their own difficulties based on the complexity of each routine. Sadly, I haven’t quite managed to achieve Megastar rank on any track just yet, but that’s the beauty of the series; it pushes you to get better and improve your moves.
The choreography is spot on for the most part, and it’s never too tough to replicate the moves on-screen. Naturally, there’s a few stinker tracks included amidst the otherwise stellar playlist, but that’s a subjective criticism that will vary player to player. Touching up on the game’s visuals, Just Dance 2019 doesn’t step too far from the concept that we’ve seen for years now. Bright, vibrant colors will be present throughout, held together by a design that’s clean and well suited to the theme within. All in all, Just Dance 2019 is a solid entry.
Just Dance 2019, for better and for worse, doesn’t do much to step the series outside of its comfort zone. Though even so, it still manages to maintain the allure that’s held the franchise together for quite a number of years now. Despite the odd issue with its tracking technology, the game offers countless hours of fun for players of all ages, complete with a decent online component to further its longevity.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.