A popular platitude from the gaming literati is “not every game is for you.” It’s a popular saying when hobbyists don’t find themselves particularly enamored with the latest walk-around-and-look-at-stuff simulator that’s being hailed as the greatest artistic achievement since the Mona Lisa; for some reason, it’s never dragged out when the conversation turns to the many apparent failings of the latest Call of Duty or FIFA. As I’ve been trying to distance myself from the stifling cloud of nonsense surrounding the hobby, getting away from that sort of thing has been a relief, but I can admit that the saying does have some truth to it: not every game is going to be delightful to everyone.
In the interests of full disclosure, then, Just Dance 2018 isn’t remotely my kind of game and as a result I didn’t play a huge amount of it solo. Instead, much of my time spent with the latest in Ubisoft’s long-running series of gyration simulators was with the assistance of others in the safety and comfort of a supportive environment…okay, it was basically an excuse for everyone involved to imbibe adult beverages and laugh at each other. I’m pretty sure that’s the idea, actually! If that’s the case, then Just Dance 2018 pretty much nails what it’s trying to accomplish, and I’m going to do my best to discuss what I experienced through a haze of inebriation.
If you’re not familiar with this series, it’s basically the kind of game that the Kinect was pitched as bringing to all of our homes: you’re given dance moves to copy, you do so, repeat until a song is over, repeat until you’re out of songs, buy the next installment and repeat until the grave offers its cold embrace. Here on the Switch, tracking your sick moves is done via the position of the Joycon that you’re holding, which is somewhat reminiscent of how WarioWare: Smooth Moves worked back on the Wii. You can also use your cell phone to the same effect, which is a nice touch if you don’t want to keep handing Joycons around but less of a nice touch if someone manages to throw their phone and destroy your television.
As for the actual gameplay, I found move recognition to be almost too generous; frankly that’s preferable to the alternative where this silly dancing game expects eSports-level skills, so no complaints here. Successful grooving earns points, allowing you to clear songs and unlock more songs by spending your ever-growing pile of Mojo money on what are essentially (gasp) lootboxes. Don’t worry, your wallet is safe…though your brain may not be, since there are plenty of earworms available on the soundtrack. in particular, the meme-tastic “Beep Beep I’m a Sheep” makes an appearance, thereby cementing Just Dance 2018’s status as Game of the Year, and the rest of the songs tend to focus on the sort of Top 40 fare you’d expect from this kind of game.
Once you’re done with the 40 or so songs that come with the game, you can toss a little more cash to the Just Dance Unlimited subscription service for even more tunes, though the fact that many of these are just returning hits from previous games might be a little disappointing for longtime fans.
Presentation-wise, Just Dance 2018 features…well, it’s a bunch of music videos that demonstrate the moves you should be doing for maximum dancitude. It’s bright, colorful and peppy. Sound-wise, it has “Beep Beep I’m a Sheep,” so it’s amazing. Games journalism proves to be the most difficult career of all once again.
Kidding aside – wait, “Beep Beep I’m a Sheep” IS amazing, I’m not kidding at all. Just Dance 2018 should be a fulfilling entry for fans of the series and newcomers alike. It’s easy to pick up and play, it’s got a nice chunk of content and an addictive method of gaining more and, well, it’s hard to say what else you’d want from something like this. I’m not sure I’ll be at the midnight launch for Just Dance 2019, assuming they even have those, but the next time some friends who aren’t into video games outside of Candy Crush stop by I’ll have something they’re able to get into.