Reviewed in the United States on November 6, 2019
I have kept up with the Just Dance series from the beginning and own almost all of them to date – Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, Summer Party, Greatest Hits, ABBA, Michael Jackson, JD2014, JD2015, JD2016, JD2017, JD2018, JD2019, – and now JD2020. Not only are they incredibly fun, but they also serve as my primary workout regime. In 2012 I had cancer surgery which kept me off my feet for some time, and Just Dance really helped me bounce back and lose upwards of 60 pounds that first year with very little modification to my diet. I continued to dance literally every single day for about three years, resulting in not only a slimmer, more toned body, but I also FELT better than ever. Unfortunately, after my cancer resurfaced in 2016, the ensuing surgeries and permanent nerve damage have prevented me from exercising on the level I used to, but I do still like to pop these games in at least a few times a week and was happy to pick up the latest. But enough of my sob story. I only wanted to mention these things now so any criticisms I might make come off as more credible and not just the rantings of a casual player who simply can't keep up with the steps or hold the controller properly. Trust me, I know these games inside out by now, lol.
I will try to avoid writing my usual thesis – but no promises, lol – and just say that, in short, JD2020 is a great installment of the series and recaptures a lot of what I used to love about these games in the first place. For a while I was a bit worried, to be honest with you; many of the Just Dance releases in recent years seemed intent on degrading the choreography to bizarre hand posing and random flailing about with no relation to the beat whatsoever, and really overdid it with the dizzying visual effects and other “stuff” happening onscreen which at times made it very difficult to even see what your dancer was supposed to be doing. I was also dismayed that nearly half the songs on previous releases were wasted on group dances, which really weren’t dances at all but more like little scenes or skits, which of course might be more fun in the context of a party but were completely useless for a solo player like me who plays these games only to get fit. Frankly, I was about to give up on them.
JD2019, however, indicated a promising return to form, smoothing out several of the gripes I just mentioned, and I’m glad to see that JD2020 is following in its footsteps. The choreography is fun and the routines are memorable, and the motion tracking on the Switch joy-con is fair, though some simple and straightforward moves such as pointing your hand to the sky or clapping still fail to register on occasion. . The graphics are colorful and fluid and you get to play as a variety of whimsical characters, and there are a ton of new player icons, titles, and artwork to unlock if you’re so inclined. The Just Sweat and World Dance Floor modes return, as well as a small selection of songs geared toward small children specifically. As with every new Just Dance game in recent years, you also get a free 30-day trial of Just Dance Unlimited, which is basically an online database of over 500 tracks from games past, though a Ubisoft Club account is mandatory to access it.
On a side note regarding Unlimited, I strongly advise disregarding any review which tries to tell you this is an “incomplete” game. You get 40 songs on the cartridge, which is more or less the standard and quite reasonable for the retail price point. What you’re paying extra money to access, should you CHOOSE, is access to every previous Just Dance game. It’s an entirely different service unto itself and absolutely nothing in this game is locked behind a paywall. Please, please educate yourself before making (or buying into) such claims. On a side side note, I do happen to subscribe to Unlimited on top of continuing to purchase the new physical game releases every year, and find it completely worth it. Like I said, I try to dance several times a week, if not daily, if my body is up for it.
Aside from that, the only point of contention I foresee might be the tracklist itself, which will be hit or miss depending who you ask. JD2020 is by far one of the least mainstream entries in the series, comprised mostly of underground techno beats, with only a small handful of current radio hits by likes of Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, and Ed Sheeran. (Personally I would have liked more 80s and 90s songs.) I should also note that there has, overall, been a major shift toward Latin and world music, which is not necessarily a complaint for me, but I can see why others may be disappointed. All in all I think JD 2020 is a solid entry in the series, embodying the fun and whimsy of the earlier games but with a modern polish that doesn’t compromise the gameplay itself. I actually just appreciate that they keep making these games at all and continue to appeal to a wide range of demographics. So, whether your goal is to shed a few pounds or just goof around for a few minutes, everyone should find at least one thing here to love.