Just Dance 2022 sticks with the classic gameplay from previous titles, but base gameplay is limited without the Just Dance Unlimited subscription.
Just Dance 2022 is a dance and rhythm game available on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Google Stadia, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5. Developed and published by Ubisoft, the newest installment in the series introduces songs from the past several years, alongside modern, stylized graphics that are a big improvement from the first Just Dance games from the late 2000s. However, due to subscription services, the base game lacks content and easier tracks, creating a boring learning curve for players.
Like in past Just Dance titles, the gameplay options in Just Dance 2022 are limited, with a “Sweat” mode for working out, a Co-op free-play mode for parties and casual multiplayer dancing, a simple “Quick-play” mode with no song selection, and a “Kids” mode with a simplified menu and song list. Players can create playlists of favorite songs as well, eliminating the need to scroll through the full song list to find a personal favorite. When starting out, many songs are unavailable and require certain goals to be unlocked, greatly limiting the song selection for those just getting started.
Just Dance 2022 also offers a simplified avatar for players to customize. When starting out, there is a short selection of preset options to build the simple, faceless busts. The primary decorations are hairstyles and background effects, which can be unlocked by earning coins during gameplay. These coins are then put in a rewards machine, which will randomly drop various decorations items. While this avatar option is good for differentiating players on scoreboards, it doesn’t do anything for gameplay, as onscreen characters during songs are preset.
Similar to previous Just Dance games, the difficulty levels set for each song will vary widely. Songs like Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” have theatrical, easy-to-follow gestures, while Imagine Dragons’ “Believer” doesn’t really require dancing, but a series of big movements in time to the beat. While a song may have the “Easy” rating, this doesn’t mean the style of the dance will fit every player. However, Just Dance 2022 is forgiving, and even if the player is missing the exact movements shown by the dancers and the movement prompts at the bottom right of the screen, as long as the Joy-Con is in motion, the player will earn points. However, this also can make gameplay less satisfying, as players can get perfect scores by simply waving the controller around if they get lost.
The biggest setback for Just Dance 2022 is the Just Dance Unlimited subscription pass. Instead of offering one-time purchases like content from past games, or simply including a backlist of fan favorites alongside the new additions, players must subscribe to Just Dance Unlimited and pay a monthly fee to have access to the much-needed expanded song list. The songs from Unlimited come from each of the past Just Dance titles, with the songs from earlier games being much easier to play, and acting as a good place to start for new players. The base game does come with a free month of Unlimited, but when scrolling through the song list, players are able to see that most of the game’s content is actually tied to the subscription, making it a costly addition to a work-out routine or party-game collection.
Another shortcoming for the game is the “Kids” mode, which only boasts about a dozen options. With the exception of a handful of Disney songs, the tunes are grating, repetitive, and will likely have parents making a curated playlist using appropriate options from the main song selection to prevent frustration while kids play for fun or during a party.
The modern dance visuals and the addition of popular songs in Just Dance 2022 will likely appeal to longtime fans of the game; however, those who are new to the series may want to opt for a version a few years older, and purchase the Just Dance Unlimited subscription instead, to save money and learn gameplay with songs that have easier dance moves. While unlikely at this time, the option to permanently purchase past songs as DLC would be a big benefit for Just Dance 2022, allowing players to pay a one-time fee for their favorite songs, rather than a monthly steep monthly cost for songs that may not get played.
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Just Dance 2022 is available now for the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Google Stadia, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5. A Nintendo Switch code was provided to Screen Rant for the purpose of this review.
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