Another year, another Just Dance release from Ubisoft – but Just Dance 2023 looks to be different. Here’s why, in our review of the PlayStation 5 version.
Our choice of platform this year is actually more meaningful than you’d think, because one of the changes for the franchise is that they’re no longer releasing it on last gen consoles. Surprising, when you consider the large player base and the fact that they kept releasing versions for Nintendo’s Wii up until Just Dance 2020. Even more of a game-changer, however, is that Just Dance is evolving from a model with an annual release to a subscription model.
We’re not sure we like the change, but that’ll depend on the details surrounding it – will players be able to import previously purchased content, or will they be forced to subscribe to play previously purchased tracks on the new platform. Time will tell how things will take shape, but at least Just Dance 2023 feels like a warm bath – one where the tracklist is the biggest novelty in an otherwise mostly established gameplay formula.
Zooming in on the tracklist, there’s a heavy emphasis on newer songs, with Wouldn’t It Be Nice, Disco Inferno and Walking On Sunshine being the only tracks that predate the year 2000. To make matters worse for fans of golden oldies, two out of those three songs are by cover bands. Unfortunately for fans of the Beach Boys and Katrina and the Waves, it’s another Just Dance staple that returns.
Looking at newer tracks, there’s a impressive roster of over 40 songs to select from, covering a wide range of genres and difficulty levels, with a few songs geared especially towards kids and newcomers. The uplifting Can’t Stop The Feeling by Justin Timberlake and I Knew You Were Trouble by Taylor Swift are favorites, and depending on your definition of what a “classic” is you can get down to Britney’s Toxic and Evanescense’s Bring Me Back To Life as well.
Ahead of the shift to an online subscription-based model, Just Dance 2023 features more emphasis on online play and has a new user interface to reflect this, bringing it more in line with the streaming services that people are familiar with. And while you can still play locally (adding smart phones as controllers), the online competition will beckon towards the more competitive dancers out there. We actually love these are offline party games ourselves, and luckily that option is still there – and yes, you still want to use either a camera or a controller with a strap attached for that.
Besides the switch to a new business model, we didn’t see a technical reason for Just Dance 2023 to go PS5-only. It’s visually the same type of colorful choreography we’ve been seeing for years, and the game’s also available on the Switch. The PS5 version doesn’t constitute a “next gen” upgrade for the franchise, nor do we see where it would need that. It’s a shame that the player base is a bit smaller on PS5, but over time this will fix itself. We’re just happy to engage in more dancing and karaoke over the holidays.