Dance! Dance! It’s a Revolution! You move your feet to the beat, move with style to play a while. Up! Down! Left! Right! Do the moves! You’re out of sight! Make the moves! You sure look cool! Don’t look now! You’re a dancing fool!
No, those aren’t the lyrics for the game intro, but if Konami would like to see me about buying the rights or hiring me for my services, my email is at the end of the article.
Dance Dance Revolution, the popular foot moving game, has come to the Xbox after several incarnations for the Playstation and PS2. Does this game get the same polish as the other incarnations? Is this game worthy of a purchase?
The DDR series has never been a graphical showcase for any system. However, Ultramix does have a few nice touches. Two cel-shaded dancers are available to dance in the background, one at a time, one male and one female. While the dancers look nice and move well, only having two that rotate gets repetitive very quickly.
Ultramix gives DDR a more modern look. The silver theme of the game and polished status bars seem like something more futuristic that anything seen before in DDR.
The other enhancement in the graphics is the arrows. While this may not sound like a huge enhancement, arrows are the main focus of the game. A surprising number of arrows are available in an assortment of styles. The most creative arrows available in my opinion are the ones that reminded me of turtles swimming upstream.
Unfortunately, the backgrounds are nothing more than a psychedelic mess. The DDRMAX games used actual videos. In Ultramix, the graphical prowess is abused by the style that is more reminiscent of ’80’s laser light shows. I would have preferred the videos to what Ultramix offers.
If you like techno or dance music, you will enjoy the music provided. If you have disgust for techno or dance, you will feel like you are hearing twenty sets of fingernails sliding over a chalkboard while begging for your bowels to be forcibly removed to end the suffering. To enjoy the game, enjoying the music is essential. If you don’t like the music, you most likely will not like the game.
If you enjoy the music style, you will find a large number of tracks available, with more that can be unlocked. Some of the artists are recognizable, while others probably have you scratching your head wondering if you have heard their song before. Although some tracks are better than others, none of the tracks are stinkers.
The tracks available have varying tempos. Most of the tracks are upbeat in pace, but a few slow tracks help add variety to the game.
Ultramix comes alone for about $40 or with a Konami Dance Pad for about $60-65. I went ahead and purchased the package with the Konami Dance Pad to see how it would perform. Instantly I could see the pad was designed with the Xbox in mind. The front of pad contained two expansion slots similar to the ones on an Xbox controller. The A, B, X, and Y were in the corners of the of the pad, with a red and green color scheme.
The responsiveness of the pad seemed fine. This is of the utmost importance when the game requires such split-second timing. However, this pad slides a lot, not just a little. Sometimes I would feel that I was hitting the right spot, but the pad had turned so much that I wasn’t. It helped when I put a JCPenny catalog on the front portion of the pad, but playing without shoes on would sometimes cause me to bump my toes against it. It wasn’t a pleasant experience.
Usually I play using pads from Red Octane (www.redoctane.com) for the PS2. Maybe I was spoiled because I was able to use these. My suggestion would be to either get some quality pads with a PS2 connection converter (which is something I have not done, so attempt at your own risk), or be prepared to mod this pad (directions for this can be found at www.ddrfreak.com).
Several modes are playable in Ultramix. The main mode is the Game Mode. Here a song is selected and you move your feet to the arrows. Any unlocked songs are available. These can be played in any order, and gameplay keeps on continuing until the player stops, unlike the DDRMAX games where a game was three songs of your own selection. Up to four players are able to play at once.
Also included are the Training Mode, to practice moves in specific songs, the Edit Mode, to create original arrow patterns for songs, and the Workout Mode, which will count the amount of calories burnt off while playing the game. These are standard on the other games as well.
Ultramix introduces online play to the mix. Up to four players can play at one time, although playing it with the Xbox LIVE headset might be a bit difficult. Lag doesn’t seem to be an issue with this, which is essential for a game that requires split-second timing.
While the addition of online play is nice, Ultramix seems to be severely lacking in other areas. Most noticeably missing is a tutorial for the game. Tutorials were provided in both DDRMAX games for the PS2, so it is confusing why it is missing from Ultramix. Without a tutorial, DDR can be incredibly intimidating, even on the lower levels. I don’t understand its absence from the game.
Also, Ultramix contains less difficulty levels than DDRMAX2 The Light, Standard, and Heavy difficulty levels come with the game. However, DDRMAX2 has a beginner mode to help those starting out with DDR. The lack of this difficulty level is disappointing.
Every DDR game has contained a plethora of songs. Ultramix is no exception. With over 50 songs available, and more that are available to be unlocked, it will be hard for anyone to complain that there isn’t enough variety.
For those who can get through every song in each difficulty level, more songs are available through Xbox LIVE. At the release of the game, one pack of five songs was available for download, and another package has become available since. However, at $5 per pack, it’s not cheap. Only those who need every DDR song available need apply.