Dance Dance Revolution: Hottest PartyESRB:
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Developer - Konami
Publisher - Konami
Dancepad required (Included)
Remote and Nunchuk optional
16:9 and Progressive Scan
Before jumping directly into the meat and potatoes of this game review, I will state upfront that even though I am able to play DDR with some semblance of skill and rhythm, I am no expert. I have played a few of the previous versions, and have even been known to pop a few tokens into an arcade cabinet version, but I do not have an extensive back-library of DDR games on my game shelf.
I found this version of DDR to be one of the most vibrant I have seen to date. From the slick orange menu system, to the stylized neon backgrounds while dancing to your musical selection, everything is plastered with a highly saturated colour palette. During menus and most of the gameplay this proves to be a visual feast to the eyes, which although very colorful is still kept simple enough to be nice and legible.
While dancing the backgrounds consist of arenas with animated dancers following pre-determined (motion captured) dance steps on floating platforms in front of the neon backgrounds previously mentioned. Some of the dancing arenas prove to be a bit too colorful and saturated however, and can cause some minor blending of the gameplay arrows causing brief confusion and possible loss of the perfect combo you are working towards. Overall the game’s visual really do match the game though and you’d be hard-pressed to find much fault with what they did.
There isn’t a lot to say about the audio in this game, as it won’t sound any better or worse than any other songs that you have played on your audio system of choice, be it TV speakers or a high-fidelity surround sound system. The game supports Dolby Pro-Logic II, but besides having the sound coming from all around you, there is no directional channel separation as required with action/adventure gaming.
There is a nice mixture of music in this game, but one minor disappointment is that even though many of the songs are very familiar as made famous by artists such as Nickelback, Coldplay and Usher to only name a few. Unlike the recently released Guitar Hero III you won’t actually get to hear any of the aforementioned artists master recordings as all songs are covere done by other artists.
The bread and butter of the gameplay found in all versions of Dance Dance Revolution are the same. It revolves around arrows which move vertically up the screen requiring precise timing to the beat of the music. You must step on the appropriate directions on the dance pad once the moving arrows have lined up with their static counterparts near the top of the screen. Depending on the timing of your ‘dancing’ you will be ranked as how in sync with the music you timed your step. At the end of the song, you will be given a score and ranked from AAA, all perfect steps, down to an E which means you may need a lot more practice, and/or coordination.
If you are new to the world of Dance Dance Revolution, the controls, although possibly making you look incredibly uncoordinated, are as simple as they come. The game requires the usage of a dancepad, conveniently included with the game, which is marked with arrows facing forward, backward, left and right arranged around a center ‘rest’ space. These same 4 directions are also represented on the screen.
This being the Wii version however, DDR comes with some added Wii Remote controls added to the system for added gameplay. The menu can be controlled by pointing at the options on screen. The biggest addition however is the added gameplay modes using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. Periodically the left and right arrows will be replaced with alternate symbols requiring you to shake the corresponding hand. This was somewhat of a nice touch as Konami tried to incorporate something new for the Wii centric version.
In order to unlock new songs and certain gameplay mode elements you will have to work your way through the single-player Groove Circuit mode. Each stage in Groove Circuit will require the player to complete multiple challenges. First you will have to complete a requested challenge selecting songs from the library. Secondly you will have to complete the same challege utilizing songs you have not played yet which will be unlocked upon your completion of that challenge. Thirdly, you will have to defeat an opponent, which if completed will unlock a new song, a new background arena, a new costume for the opponent’s player model and possibly a new gameplay mode element.
The mode that will probably get the most play by people is the Free Play mode. This will allow you to just play any of the songs that are unlocked either by yourself, against the computer or against up to 3 of your friends dependent upon how many spare dance pads you have. Unfortunately there is no online play, so you are limited as to how much gaming room space you have available versus how many people you can play against. Sync mode and Friendship mode are the most interesting of note, as in these modes both players share the same arrows and your score is dependent upon the lesser scored arrows in Sync mode or the higher scored arrows in Friendship mode.
One of the bonuses of Dance Dance Revolution is that people (read: your parents) cannot complain that you are just sitting on your butt playing video games all day as this game can really get you sweating. The benefit of this is evidence by the fact that DDR includes a specific Workout Mode right in the game. This allows you to create a profile for yourself and you can use this profile to track your progress as you burn calories while playing. When starting up Workout mode you can enter the options and select to play until a certain calorie count is burned, or you can set a duration of time to play for and it will calculate your calories burned as you play.
Beyond the gameplay modes, the biggest addition to this version of Dance Dance Revolution is the aforementioned addition of the Wii Remote controls. I was originally intrigued by the concept of the hand motion controls, but I have found that in practice they aren’t nearly as fun as I hoped for. I also find that periodically they won’t even register even though you know for a fact that you shook the controller at the appropriate time. This has caused me to turn the hand movement controls off every time I turn the game on to play. That too is a bit of a nuisance as the game will not save that preference and you have to disable the hand controls every time you play the game again. The game also includes ‘Gimmick Arrows’ which vary from regular arrows as they change directions as they travel up the screen, special arrows that require you to step on them more than once to clear them, or other arrows, which when missed cause a large shape to move up the screen blocking your view of upcoming arrows.
Of note is that one of the major gameplay faux pas in this game is beginners will generally step on a directional arrow and return their foot back to the center ‘rest’ space. Try to avoid this tactic, as once you graduate beyond selecting songs on beginner mode you will not have time to return one foot back to the center and shift your weight to move your other foot to it’s required position. Leave your foot where you have stepped and continue with your other foot.
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