by Emily Worrell
Disclaimer: This game was played on a PS4 using smartphone controllers. This copy of the game was provided by the developer for review purposes.
Even though I had relatively low expectations for Just Dance 2019, I was still quite excited to play it. I am definitely a fan of dance games and was hoping for nothing more than an “expansion pack” to previous Just Dance games with new and current songs. In some ways, this game definitely surpassed my expectations, but had some major flaws in gameplay that were definitely disappointing. However, it definitely fulfilled its purpose as a party game and had a lot of fun content that is enjoyable for fans and casual players alike.
Smartphone control is a good concept that flops in reality
The idea of creating a smartphone app that players could use as controllers, eliminating the need for motion controllers like PlayStation Move, seems like a strong and bold move on Ubisoft’s part. In theory, it definitely makes sense, as basically anyone buying this game has a smartphone and can therefore play. However, getting the smartphones to connect to the game and stay connected proved to be extremely problematic. Of course, it should be acknowledged that this may have been partly due to bad Wi-Fi and not solely an issue with the game itself, however, the amount of trouble that it caused indicated that it would definitely be a problem for other players. The controllers would disconnect from the game extremely often; in fact, one of our players couldn’t even make it through a full song with his. This was a huge problem because we ended up spending about half of our time actually enjoying what the game had to offer and the other half just trying to reconnect to the game. Even then, we could usually only get one or maybe two of our controllers to stay connected at a time.
Even without the connectivity problems, it was easy to disconnect by user error as well. If, while dancing, you accidentally pressed the wrong button on your phone, you would be disconnected either partially (meaning you just had to re-open the app) or fully (meaning you would have to reconnect your device). Additionally, if you exited out of the app between songs to check on a notification or use another app, you would be disconnected and have to connect your device again. Players also need to be careful not to accidentally throw their phones while they’re dancing, which may sound silly, but it did happen. Make sure you have a good case and a firm grip when using smartphone controllers.
However, when the smartphone controllers were working, they were surprisingly good at capturing motion. I was concerned that these controllers would only vaguely capture motion, making the game easy to cheat by just shaking the phone without really playing. However, the scores were mostly accurate in their reflections of how well players were doing. Players could shake the phone and still get mediocre scores, but to do well, the game made it necessary to actually participate and play the game properly.
Diverse array of content
One of the strong suits of Just Dance 2019 was definitely the amount and variety of content it contained. There were different game modes, including a mode specifically for kids that had nursery rhymes and children’s songs, a “sweat mode” that helped track how many calories players burnt while dancing, and a playlist mode where the game makes playlists based on previous gameplay and players can make their own playlists.
Not only did the game modes make the game’s content more diverse, but the song list had a wide range of different music types. There were current songs, as expected, but also songs from old games, and songs covering just about every genre. Ubisoft had definitely taken the time to ensure that they had enough differing songs that anyone who looked at the menu would be able to find at least a few recognizable songs no matter what their music taste was. Additionally, there is a subscription available for purchase that contains over 400 songs, which is a huge addition to the already large and varied catalogue. The visuals were also more diverse than in previous Just Dance games; while past games have only featured the Just Dance characters as on-screen prompters, Just Dance 2019 used these characters along with actual dancers for some songs and even a claymation character in one instance.
Good party game fun
Just Dance 2019 was definitely intended to be a party game, and to that end, it definitely succeeds. When the game is working, it’s very fun not only to play, but also to watch. It’s a good dance game, and it works with up to six players, making it easy to play in a sizeable group setting. It also sets a good party atmosphere with upbeat background music in the menus, energetic and aesthetically pleasing visuals, and a fun energy overall. However, this definitely is not a game that a player would necessarily play solo unless for fitness purposes or even come back to with much frequency, which is something to consider before investing in it. Although it offers more content than some previous Just Dance games, it is overall quite similar to older versions that can be purchased for much less than this particular game.
Featured Image: Ubisoft
Directed by: Emily Reuben
Camera: Jeremy Rogers
Editing: Emily Reuben
Graphics: Emily Reuben
Review Team: Tanner Kinney, Jack Gillespie, Trevor Sheffield, and Emily Worrell
Game Footage from Youtube User: Just Dance “Just Dance 2019: Official Song List – Part 1 [US] ”
Music: “All You Gotta Do (Is Just Dance)” Performed by The Just Dance Band © 2017 Ubisoft
Just Dance 2019
‘Just Dance 2019’ is a good party game that adds an element of diversity in its content that previous games lacked. However, the smartphone controllers (although a good idea in theory), cause major gameplay problems that drastically lower enjoyment levels and often disallow players to experience the stronger elements of the game. When the game is working, however, it is a fun dance game that adds a huge amount of content to the Just Dance franchise.
Emily Worrell is a Theatre major with a concentration in acting. She has written opinion articles since high school and enjoys playing video games, reading, and watching movies in her spare time.