Konami has never disappointed me, especially when it comes to the Bemani series. It all started with Beatmania, a DJ simulation game. Then came Guitar Freaks, Drummania, Dance Dance Revolution, Keyboardmania, Pop N' Music, Para Para Paradise, DanceManiaX, and Martial Beat. Dance Dance Revolution has always been one of my arcade passions; its original gameplay and upbeat music of all genres makes a nice splash of creativity in the gaming world. Dance Dance Revolution, "DDR" for short, has had 8 successful mixes for the arcade, and now that dance stage craze can be simulated at home with another console version (dance pad sold separately). There are a few console DDR titles out in the States: DDR, DDR Konamix, DDR Disney Mix, and DDR Max. Now roaring in for a September 23 release comes DDRMAX2: Dance Dance Revolution for the PS2. Rejoice, fellow DDR freaks!
There are over 65 songs to choose from (with hidden tracks), including hit licensed songs that are U.S. version exclusive. DDRMAX2 includes hits from The Crystal Method, Dirty Vegas, Jocelyn Enriquez, K.C. & The Sunshine Band, Kylie Minogue, and more. Classic DDR hits such as "Do It Right", "Groove", "Hysteria", and "Silent Hill" are included to keep the DDR dance groove going. And what would a DDR mix be without a "Paranoia" remix? Sounds damn sexy already, eh?
Visuals are vibrant and fun as usual, with the addition of a new interface and music videos to compliment today's hit musical artists. If there isn't a music video for the song you're groovin' to, there's usually a background that is full of activity and, sometimes, quite distracting. As far as I've seen, none of the classic characters dance to the music with you in this mix of DDR; that's reserved for the new Beginner Mode, where there's just one on-screen dancer. (Aww, I miss the old characters, especially Emi and Rage.)
Gameplay is quite simple, and basically the same since the DDR series began: step on the corresponding arrows that reach the top of the screen while trying your best to groove to the music. But depending on the difficulty, the songs can be too easy or just dangerous. If you've never played any DDR games before or just not that good, it's recommended that you keep the difficulty to Light mode or Beginner until you improve. Know your limits. There are new modes of gameplay, which include the before mentioned Beginner Mode, to help you learn the basics; Nonstop Mode, which has numerous courses you must complete without breaks between songs; and Endless Mode, where you shake your moneymaker continuously like in Nonstop, but to every song in the game. Modes that are returning are Workout, which you can track the calories you burn while dancing (one of the best benefits of the game is that you can easily lose weight), and Edit Mode, where you can be crazy-go-nuts with choreographing your own dance steps to your favorite songs. If a song can prove to be too difficult or boring for you, change the dance steps to the way you like them.
Don't give up plugging quarters into the arcade DDR machines; it's best to play at both home and in the arcade. A home dance pad and an arcade dance stage don't feel the same, so it's better to get used to playing on both. Buy the best dance pad if you can afford it. The best soft pad is the RedOctane Ignition Pad 2.0, and the best hard pad is the RedOctane Metal Pad. If you're a DDR freak, it's worth it.
Dance Dance Revolution has always been fun, invigorating, and competitive. So how can you deny yourself the glorious opium that is DDRMAX2? Impress your folks! Impress your friends! Impress the girls (or in my case, the boys, tee-hee)! But if you can't impress, just have fun. That's what Dance Dance Revolution is for.
9/8/2003 Alexandria Long