Just Dance 2018 is the latest entry in the annual dancing franchise from Ubisoft.

The game doesn't change the formula, but there are a few tweaks here and there that elevate the experience over previous entries in the series. The songs are better, the menu is clearer, and there is a lot of variety due to the Just Dance Unlimited option, a subscription service that costs $29.99 each year and gives you access to not only tracks from past titles but also exclusive tracks that are only available to subscribers. There are other ways to purchase the service, like buying a daily pass, but the yearly subscription is probably the better deal.

The game includes more than 40 tracks at launch, and if you subscribe to Just Dance Unlimited, that list grows to a couple hundred. Songs like "24K Magic" by Bruno Mars, "John Wayne" by Lady Gaga, and "Shape of You" by Ed Sheeran are part of the experience. If you love to dance or are looking for a fun way to exercise, Just Dance 2018 is a great choice for newcomers on Xbox One.

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Songs and subscriptions

Customers who purchase Just Dance 2018 get a three-month trial for the unlimited service but that doesn't seem long enough. Some of the best songs are included as part of the Just Dance Unlimited subscription so it feels like content is being withheld from customers. There should be other options for buyers, maybe an advertisement-supported model. They should also offer some sort of discount for those individuals who purchase the Just Dance games every year.

Some of the best songs are part of the Just Dance Unlimited subscription.

Just like previous Just Dance titles, Just Dance 2018 features two distinct ways to play the game. If you have enough space, the Xbox One's Kinect camera does a great job of tracking your movements and translating them into a rating. However, considering that Microsoft ceased production of Kinect for Xbox One, it's unclear whether future titles in the franchise will support the technology. Luckily, you can also download the Just Dance Controller application on your smartphone and use that as a way to assign a score. Unfortunately, this isn't the best way because there are connection issues and it doesn't seem as accurate as the camera.

Now that Xbox One supports third-party cameras, maybe Ubisoft can incorporate them into the experience. If that's not possible, then they should keep on supporting Kinect. It's just more accurate, and you can use it to save video of possibly-awkward dance moves after each song.

Modes and gameplay

When you first start Just Dance 2018, you're greeted by a few menu options. One of the most noticeable changes has to be the addition of Kids Mode, which is tailored for younger players. The songs are also curated to a greater degree because the normal mode features some tracks children probably shouldn't be listening to. This is definitely a welcome addition.

The goal of the game, just like past entries in the franchise, is to dance as closely as to what you see on screen. Stylized avatars of professional dancers tell you how to move. The more closely you mimic them, the better your rating is. You can earn ratings like Super, Good and Perfect depending on how well you danced. Being Perfect requires a lot of practice so that adds to the replayability. Additionally, if you want to use the game as an exercise tool, it can be a lot of fun.

Just Dance is a great exercise tool as well.

Just Dance 2018 is a great dancing game. However, when you're evaluating such an experience, you have to remember that it's a yearly franchise. Is releasing a $59.99 game every year the right business model? The future of the franchise is a little confusing at the moment.

Business models

Just Dance 2018 costs $59.99, and if you're an avid dancer who plays the game frequently, you will want the $29.99 unlimited subscription. The costs quickly add up. Ubisoft should maybe transition Just Dance to a free-to-play model that gives you a taste of some of the songs and is supported by the Just Dance Unlimited subscription. That would probably bring in more players because spending $90 each year for the latest songs doesn't seem like a great idea.

Just Dance needs a new business model.

Gameplay hasn't changed in years, and the same goes for the visuals. Players are effectively paying $59.99 for access to a couple of new songs every year. The better content is part of Just Dance Unlimited. There are a lot of song omissions in there, too, so it's not like spending that amount every year will get you the absolute best selection. This probably has to do with licensing costs and difficulty in inquiring rights to certain tracks but it's a concern nonetheless. These are factors you must consider when purchasing Just Dance 2018.

Just Dance 2018 review conclusion

Overall, the game is a great experience for newcomers to the series, but it doesn't offer anything new to those who purchase the title every year. You'll have just as much fun with Just Dance 2017 if you don't want a handful of the latest tracks. Just Dance Unlimited is where the great content is at.

While certain tweaks like the Kids Mode may appeal to individuals with children, it hardly warrants buying the game again. It's time for Ubisoft to change its approach to the Just Dance franchise. Games like Killer Instinct have seasons that don't cost that much. There are a lot of models out there which should be explored for next year. Now is the right time for Just Dance to evolve ... before it's too late.

Pros:

  • Kids Mode for children.
  • Kinect tracking works well.
  • Variety of songs.

Cons:

  • Just Dance Unlimited is only a trial.
  • Have to spend much more for added content.
  • Smartphone application is finicky.

Decent

3/5

Just Dance 2018 is available now on a variety of platforms including Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Switch, Wii U and Wii. The game is priced at $59.99 but there is a paid subscription service that adds more songs.

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