Scrolling arrows up a screen might not seem like much of a game concept, but Konami took that concept and with it created the phenomenon that is Dance Dance Revolution. DDRMax2 is the latest release of the DDR series for the PS2 console. With so many other versions of DDR available, is this game worth getting? Is this version just like previous versions, but with different songs? Let’s find out. The graphics aren’t much different from DDRMax for the PS2. The arrows scroll in front of the screen with a background showing either a dancer dancing showing the moves, or some video to go with the music. The video is most likely the music video, which can be very interesting in and of itself. Sometimes it will be a regular music video with people dancing, or it could be moving blocks, or it could look like something straight from the Power Rangers. Sometimes the backgrounds can be distracting from the arrows scrolling on the screen, but it would be monotonous to have the same background constantly.
Since moving to the beat is a big part of this game, music is a huge factor in this game, more so than most other games. It is going to be hard to please everyone, but with more than 65 songs, it shouldn’t be hard to find something to like. All of the music has a good dance beat to them, but some of the songs will be more memorable as a song you might have heard in a commercial than something you have heard on the radio. Many artists have contributed to this game, including Dirty Vegas, Kylie Minogue, 2 Unlimited, and K.C. and the Sunshine Band. Some artists will be more familiar than others.
During the game the dance meter will go up and down. As the dance meter goes up, you will hear applause and encouragement from the announcer. When the dance meter lowers, boos will come from the game. It’s a nice audio touch to help the player determine how they are doing.
To play this game, a dance pad is needed. A version of the game does come with a pad made by Konami. However, other third party dance controllers are available from retailers such as redoctane.com. Higher quality pads cost a little more, but they are worth the extra money. Also, web sites such a ddrfreak.com have instructions on them on how to mod them.
Since this game is about timing, response time is critical. I have a Red Octane pad, and I have found the response times to be exceptional. Occasionally I have felt that I hit a square and it didn’t register, but it was more likely a case of not getting my foot off the pad and hitting the square again.
DDR gives you several modes of play. They include Game Mode, Workout Mode, Lesson Mode, and Training Mode. Other options are the Edit Mode, the Options menu, and Information.
Game Mode is just like the arcade game. You are asked to select either Single for one player, Versus for two players, or Double for people who play a single game using two pads. Five difficulty levels are available: Beginner, Light, Standard, Heavy, and Nonstop. Two new difficulty levels are found here. The Beginner level, which also has an on-screen dancer to show you how to do the moves, is a nice addition for those just starting out playing DDR. Nonstop Mode is a frantic new mode. This mode has the player go through a certain number of songs without any break between the songs. Only DDR experts or those who are gluttons for punishment should even attempt this mode.
Some will notice the omission of the Oni mode, where near perfection is needed for the game. However, this shouldn’t stop DDR fanatics from picking up this version.
Once the difficulty has been selected, the song needs to be selected. Those who feel risky can activate the Roulette button. Once activated, the songs spin around. The player then hits the X or circle button and the wheel of songs will stop.
Workout Mode has you enter your weight, and then select the menu option of calories burned, play time, or pre-defined workout program. Once these are selected, the goal is entered depending on the menu option selected. The Workout Step can then be turned on or off. If on, then the steps will be easier to provide a low-impact workout. Then the date can be inputed to help track your progress.
Lesson Mode contains three lessons with 8 different sections. This will help a beginner to understand the mechanics of the game and help figure out how to complete different steps. This section is also a great refresher for those who have played before but haven’t done it for a while.
Training Mode will allow the player to select a song and then practice the song. This can be done through the entire song or just done to concentrate on specific portions of a song. This is helpful for the more difficult songs in the higher difficulty levels.
The basic premise of the game is to watch the scrolling arrows and when they reach the step zone, hit the corresponding arrow. The closer the arrow is in the step zone, the better the rating you get for that step will be. A dance meter is given at the beginning of the game that is about half full. The better the steps are the higher the dance meter will get. If arrows slip past the step zone, the dance meter will go down. If the meter drops to zero, the game is over.
Sounds easy, right? Well, it isn’t as easy as you might think. Several arrows will appear in a row and make the player move their feet very quickly. Sometimes arrows will be hit in succession, and sometimes two arrows will need to be hit at the same time. This game takes a lot of practice to master. Also, arrows will generally move at a constant rate, but they will sometimes slow down and speed up with the song. Arrows generally need to be hit with the beat, but sometimes I felt that the arrow didn’t match the beat the way that it should have.
As you can see, DDRMax2 has many different modes to play. If someone masters the single player mode, they can work on the double mode. Also, those who don’t like the arrows that go with a song can go to the Edit Mode and create their own.
After playing a song, information about the song is unlocked, and the more playing done, the more items that are unlocked. This gives DDRMax2 that “one more song” quality that makes you want to play.
Also, the game is fun. Being able to play the game in the privacy of your own home will also make you less fearful of looking like a fool in front of a bunch of people. Get a group of people together and it is a great party game, as well as a great laugh. Inhibitions will be lost even quicker than someone who has had several drinks at the bar.