DDR Disney Channel EditionESRB:
Platform: PlayStation 2
Developer – Keen Games
Publisher - Konami
Memory Card – 108 MB
I have to admit, I never thought I would see the day where I would be frantically hopping around on a 'dance pad' to Hanna Montana songs. Thanks to My Editor in Chief Kirby Y, who tasked me with doing the review for Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) Disney Channel Edition for the PS2, this day has finally come. Thankfully nobody has video tape evidence of me doing so. Fortunately, I had the assistance of my 5-year old daughter to play the majority of the songs and modes as after only a few minutes I realized how badly out of shape I am. Having never actually DDR before as I only have seen it in the arcades, I was interested to see not only how the game holds up on the PS2 but also see if DDR Disney Channel Edition would capture my daughter's interest as she loves many of the artists/characters featured in the game.
As far as the visuals are concerned, I was less than impressed. I have a tough time believing DDR Disney Channel Edition pushes the limits of the PS2 as I have simply seen better visuals on the console. Granted as you play the game you spend more time focusing on the scrolling arrows and stepping in time with them than you do watching Hanna Montana swaying about. Nevertheless, the games graphics comes across as average and the characters are barely a shadow of their real-life counterparts. The characters are very jaggy and my daughter was even unable to recognize some of them. In addition to the characters poor visual representation they also dance off screen and their movements are almost painful to watch. Overall, I just felt a little more attention and detail could have been put into the characters.
The rest of the visuals feature neon pre-rendered backgrounds with lots of bright colours and Disney logo's galore. The menus are straight forward and the overall presentation is clearly aimed at the younger audience. I only experienced a few slow-down issues which were barely noticeable. Overall the game suffers from no real obvious frame rate issues. Having seen some of the DDR games in the arcades it does not appear that Disney Channel Edition deviates much from the successful formula. Clearly the emphasis is on the songs and the gameplay as opposed to the visuals.
As far as the sound is concerned, DDR Disney Channel Edition for the PS2 is solid and features a great song list. It is clear the strength of the game truly lies with the Disney Channel songs. The DDR franchise is known for their addictive catchy tunes and the Disney Channel Edition is no exception. My daughter simply loved listening and stepping away to some of her Disney Channel favorites which included songs from Hannah Montana, the High School Musical soundtrack, Jump In soundtrack, Kim Possible, That's So Raven, The Cheetah Girls, and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. There are also songs from Konami's music library that are also included in the game. In fact, if anything my daughter wished the game included even more songs as Hanna Montana and High School Musical as they have a much larger library of songs then just those featured in the game. When looking at the song list from Dance Dance Revolution SuperNOVA 2, the Disney Channel Edition’s song list is significantly smaller. Perhaps this may be due to some licensing and cost issues but regardless why you only get 40 songs. It's not a major concern but I really question the longevity and replay value of the game with the present song list. Add to that the fact there is no online component where you could potentially download additional tracks.
The overall sound of the game itself is solid as DDR Disney Channel Edition is mastered in Dolby Pro logic 2. Listening to the music in surround sound sounded great and the music came through crystal clear. On side note, the announcer can get a bit repetitive at times and his loud "OK" after you step on that long freeze arrow can become annoying. Not a big deal just more of a small annoyance. I will be the first to admit, the music is not my cup of tea however given the target audience the music fits perfectly with the theme.
Having recently become addicted to rhythm based games like Rockband and Guitar Hero 3, I now understand the attraction of the DDR games. They are not only addicting but they are also challenging, fun, and clearly geared towards playing with friends. DDR Disney Channel Edition is no exception, and as I suggested above the game has not strayed from the original DDR style.
In case you have no idea of what I am talking about, and have been living under a rock since the late 1990's, I will give you a bit of background of what the game is all about. DDR is played on a dance pad with four arrow panels in a North, South, East, and West formation. These panels are pressed using the player's feet in response to arrows that appear on the screen. The arrows are synchronized to the general rhythm or beat of a chosen song, and success is dependent on the player's ability to time and position his or her steps accordingly. That is DDR in a nutshell. It is a very simple but lucrative concept.
As I played DDR Disney Channel Edition for the first time I put the game on easy mode (there are several difficulty levels by the way) and about half-way through the first song I had no problem. I certainly give lots of kudos to the developers for making this game so easy to pick up and play. My 5-year old daughter took a bit more time to figure the game out but she eventually got the hang of it and off she went. She was fine with single arrows but when the game became frantic with arrows in every which direction it became a little too much for her. But with practice I am sure she, along with anyone, can become fairly proficient at the game.
DDR Disney Channel Edition for the PS2 features a variety of different modes. There is a training mode, a standard free play mode and an exercise mode. The training mode is where you can practice your steps. The standard free play mode is where you pick a song and jump into the game right away. The exercise mode lets you enter your weight and you then dance to your heart desire, or at least until it conks-out. Additionally, there is an advanced mode which has four different ways to play for you DDR veterans out there. The advance mode features course, endless, combo challenge, and survival modes. New to the DDR franchise is the Magic Mode. Magic Mode is pretty straightforward and has you choosing your favorite Disney Channel character and you subsequently challenge them to a dance off. You are given a set list and if you beat your opponent you unlock special items (e.g. your opponents outfit). Again, it is a very simplistic approach but it works for the franchise.
A big drawback for DDR Disney Channel Edition is the fact there is no online play. The previous instalment of the franchise included an online component so it remains a mystery to me as to why this was left out of this version of the franchise. A big selling feature could have been some online one-on-one dance-offs but unfortunately this is left out.
Continue to Page 2