Paige FTW: ‘Just Dance’ Holds The Course

Back in the long-ago time of the Wii, my sister was infatuated with the Just Dance franchise.

At the time, it was groundbreaking for its novel use of motion controls and it spawned a legion of copycat dance titles. But today, only Just Dance soldiers on, in its 10th main series iteration (I am not counting its legion of spinoff titles for kids, Disney and ABBA enthusiasts).

So my sister noticed the newest title was on sale on the Nintendo Switch and decided we would get back into the series as an exercise routine. There are worse ways to force a little physical activity into your life, so I agreed.

Very little has changed since that first installment. You can expect the usual eclectic mix of Top 40 hits, popular non-English songs and a few oldies. There are a few new modes, but largely everything is consistent. The formula works, so why change it?

The new thing (for me, at least) is the series’ rather insidious means of persuading you to pony up for its Unlimited service, which offers users hundreds of dances from previous titles to supplement the meager 40 provided with this title. The game even teases you by listing all the songs in the menu, so you can see them … but not play them — unless, of course, you offer a few extra dollars for limited-time access.

Did we fall for it? Yes, of course, because anyone gets tired of playing the same five songs they like from the original set list — and knowing that there are 200 more songs waiting out there is too tempting a proposition.

While I don’t dislike playing, exactly, the game makes me feel a bit bemused: As the rest of the industry trips over one another trying to push the limits and innovate into new frontier, here is a franchise that stays in its lane until the bitter end.