Sweatin’ To The Oldies.
Hey, you wanna get funky? Want to impress the ladies with a jammin’ jig? Then
you need Darrin’s
Dance Groove! Because you just never know when you might need to bust out
a pre-choreographed dance routine. Just think. You could be waiting in line
at the DMV when you spot some hottie. So what are you going to do? Talk to her?
NO, that won’t work! You’re going to lay down one of your hip moves and dazzle
her with your fancy footwork! Gag gifts and teenyboppers aside, who’s buying
about some good ol’ Dance Dance Revolution instead? It hasn’t been too
long since DDR Konamix
hit shelves, but now we’ve got DDR: Max for the PS2.
If you’ve never seen or played it before, you seriously need to get off the
couch and at least make it out to your local arcade. Dance Dance Revolution
is a rhythm step-dancing game. Essentially, a giant controller is on the floor
and cascading series of arrows zip by on a screen. Simply step in synch to the
on-screen arrows, and look ma, you are DDR-ing.
The basic mode is the aptly titled Arcade mode, in which performance is graded
by how well you can step to the beat. Make one too many mistakes and you’ll
irritate the game, thereby cutting your dancing short. Besides this core mode,
Workouts, Lessons, and Edit modes are still included. Workouts allow you to
dance regardless of score performance. After inputting some basic user data,
useful exercise information, such as calories burned, is offered. The Lesson
mode teaches you the ins and outs of DDR, and Edit allows you to create
your own routines.
Replacing the 6-step routines of Konamix and new to DDR Max
are the ‘hold arrows’. Instead of merely tapping an arrow, you must hold your
foot there for a set amount of time. The visual arrow is elongated to indicate
how long you must keep your foot in place. The challenge of being forced to
hold one foot still while hitting the marks with your free foot will take some
practice, even for DDR veterans.
changes are also a part of this new mix. The song could freeze for a moment,
and then suddenly speed up 20 bpm. The hold arrows and the tempo changes aren’t
enough to completely reinvent or revolutionize DDR, but both are well
integrated and a welcome addition.
DDR Max has more of an American/European flavor than the prior stateside
release of DDR Konamix. Among the 65 songs, there are some familiar
tunes with clubbing roots, such as I Like to Move it, Sound Storm, and Stomp
to my Beat. Even if you don’t recognize the names, you’ve probably heard these
Instead of an animated, polygonal dancer in the background, there are now
prerecorded videos that serve as a backdrop to the flurry of arrows. Usually,
the video is mostly comprised of digital light patterns in tune with the music,
but there are also segments of completely nonsensical graphics. I actually prefer
the use of video footage over the real-time polygon renders, but sometimes they
try to combine the two with horribly pixelated footage of those original polygonal
dancers. Couldn’t they have used a better compression ratio or found some better
DDR Konamix had an interface that separated the songs into different
categories, making it difficult to wade through a complete list of the songs
unless you made some changes in the options. DDR Max just lays them all
out, and even has unlockable background information on each and every musical
selection. It’s a much better interface.
And as always, you’ll need a DDR dance pad to really play this game
the way it should be played. If you already have one for any of the PSX versions,
then you’re all set. Newbies, however, will have to drop the extra coin for
the pad, though it’s well worth it compared to playing with the controller.
DDR Max is still funky and fun, but not altogether fresh anymore. It
almost feels too soon of a release after Konamix earlier this year. I
would rather wait a little longer for some better video footage, expanded song
lists, and whatever new additions are made to invigorate the DDR formula.
Nonetheless, DDR Max is still better than Darrin’s Dance Groove and makes
for a fun way to burn off the upcoming Thanksgiving foodfest.