The release of Just Dance 2020 celebrates 10 years of the world’s number 1 music videogame franchise. The developers of the game, Ubisoft, promise that this edition is ‘more than Just Dance’, so hopes are high for some exciting brand new features to freshen up their tried and tested formula.
As with previous games you have the option of using a Kinect sensor or mobile device to track your movements during the game. Using the Just Dance Controller App on your smartphone allows you to control the game by swiping and tapping your phone screen. Be warned though – the app does drain your battery – and if you don’t have Kinect you can’t access the game without a working smartphone.
Just Dance has always been promoted as a party game, which is perfect for the holiday season. Up to six other people can join in using their smartphones and there are dances for soloists, duos and groups of up to four people. You can play against each other, competing for scores, or via the new co-op mode where your scores are combined. If you are not dancing then you can still join in with some karaoke as the lyrics for every song are shown on screen.
After connecting you have the choice of Kids, Just Dance or a new feature – All Stars. This feature has been added to celebrate 10 years of Just Dance. A story mode of sorts, you get to travel through 11 songs from Just Dance games of the past. So much more could have been made of this feature though – it would have been good to see a few alternative routes to make you want to return again, maybe each with a different theme with matching songs.
Selecting the Just Dance option takes you to your homescreen, which has a variety of further options to choose from. It recommends a song to get you started, or you can enter the World Dance Floor and compete against others from around the world. And, if you ever wondered just how they create the dancers on screen, there is a short video that takes you behind the scenes.
Tabs on the left of the screen allow you to access the songs on offer. There are 40 new offerings – only a few of which can be classed as chart-topping including “God Is A Woman” by Ariana Grande, “I don’t care” by Ed Sheeran and Justin Beiber and “Bad Guy” by Billie Eilish. There is a notable increase in songs from around the world including a number of K-pop hits, and this could be seen as a selling point, or not, depending on your musical tastes.
The Just Dance Kids mode is also in place, including a number of favourites for younger players with simpler dances and popular songs such as the ubiquitous Baby Shark by Pinkfong.
If the new songs don’t appeal to you then there is always the option of accessing Just Dance Unlimited where you can find around 500 songs from a wide variety of genres; something which is also updated with new songs throughout the year. You get 30 days of Just Dance Unlimited included for free with Just Dance 2020, and this is appreciated too, letting you explore this feature. There are happy hours available every day in the World Dance floor, where you dance to Just Dance Unlimited songs for free.
Each song has a different difficulty level, displayed by a number of bars – ranging from easy to extreme. As with previous games, when you are dancing you get rated on your performance. If you waggle your hand in the correct rhythm you can score ‘OK’, ‘good’, ‘super’ or ‘perfect’, each obtaining you increasing amounts of points. If the screen turns golden then expect a gold move to be heading your way – complete this successfully and you will be awarded with a ‘yeah!’ which really racks up the score. Pictograms show you upcoming moves so you can get your limbs into the correct configuration.
The main aim of Just Dance 2020 is to score as many points as possible. Reaching certain milestones in each song will earn you stars to a maximum of five; achieve the accolade of Superstar by scoring at least 11,000 points on one song, while 12,000 points will reward you as a Megastar along with a golden avatar. Earning points allows you to collect mojo, which can be used in a gift machine to win aliases, avatars and skins to update your profile, and also stickers to complete your sticker album with pictures of Just Dance games from the past decade.
Mojo can also be collected by completing daily challenges. These act as a tutorial of sorts, guiding you through some of the features of the game – for example one challenge is to add a song to ‘my favorite songs’ playlist. The playlists tab contains themed playlists which change daily, but if you like one you can save it to replay on another day. There is also the option of creating your own playlists with your favourite songs. It is worth pointing out that the use of playlists is very limited using just the 40 songs included in the game – it only comes into its own once you activate Just Dance Unlimited.
Sweat mode returns in Just Dance 2020. This estimates the amount of calories you are burning during dancing. I have no idea how accurate this is though as the game has no idea of your weight, muscle mass or metabolism so must just estimate how active you are during the dance based on the tempo and difficulty. Either way, you are bound to burn some calories and dancing is a fun way to get some exercise in.
A year back and I was left wanting one specific feature in the game that went before this one – Just Dance 2019 – and that was the ability to search through songs by theme and not just name. This is a new feature of this edition – sort of. First you have to work out what genres the developers have used. Some are pretty obvious – type in 80 and the search feature will indeed bring up a list of ‘80s songs to choose from, but others are a little more obscure – disco funk anyone? And I still can’t work out how to choose the duos or group dances.
I was expecting something a bit different for Just Dance 2020 on Xbox One, considering this is Ubisoft’s opportunity to really celebrate the 10 year milestone but, as usual, it is more of the same. Without a pricey subscription to Just Dance Unlimited, replayability is low, especially if you are not a huge fan of the songs on offer. What is in place though is decent enough and will cater for all those who have previously loved the franchise over the preceding years. Will the franchise last another decade without more of a serious update? Only time will tell.