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Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2

11/05/05

  09:20:26 pm, by Nimble   , 1117 words  
Categories: Reviews, Games

Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2

Link: http://ps2.ign.com/objects/746/746768.html

The accusation always goes that computers and video games make you gain weight because you're sitting on your duff instead of getting some exercise. That's not without some truth to it. Heck, I can feel it even just blogging here :)

That said, there are a few games that totally and utterly break this trend. The "Dance Dance Revolution" series certainly cannot be labelled as a "sit on your butt" game (unless you have an extraordinarily talented butt, which you might).

This is one of the latest in a line of home versions of the arcade dancing games, where you have to hit the arrows with your feet at the right time. Now you could theoretically use a regular controller for this, but it's just not the same without laying out the $20 (or maybe a little more, but you can get them for $20 easy) for a dance mat controller.

I'll tell you right now: we haven't been through all of the features in the software, but I'll tell you about what we have used.

There's a tutorial mode, ideal if you're a first timer (which I am) - which leads you through some of the moves, and gives salient advice. For example, you do not have to re-center yourself on the mat all the time. If you do, you'll find things a lot more difficult.

In addition to the regular arrows that you step on in time, there are "freeze" arrows, which you have to keep a foot on until the arrow trail has disappeared, and there are some simultaneous ones, which are pretty difficult, especially if you're trying to keep from sending thumps through the floor that tip things over :)

There's a "workout" mode, which you can set the difficulty, whether there are simultaneous steps (I typically turn those off), whether the beats are 1/4 beats at a minimum or whether the song can do faster ones, and what music you would like to dance to. There are "random" options for quite a few things.

In the workout mode, you can input your weight as well - this will let the game tell you approximately how many calories you have burned (it does depend on how many steps you actually make. I tried not stepping on the mat for an entire song, and it said "0 calories"). You can set how many calories you would like to burn, or how long you would like to dance for. If you create a 'login', it will even keep track of these things for you over the course of a number of days.

Let me assure you that in workout mode, unless you've done a lot of previous Dance Dance Revolution... stick to Beginner or at most Light. It won't take you long to figure out why.

Now, to start with, the music selection is a little limited. However, that's part of the game. You need to go into Dance Master mode to get into the really interesting parts...

"Dance Master" mode leads you to start with through some easier steps. To start with, you get to choose your challenge from a list of two. For each challenge you get a grade (AAA for all perfect, down to AA, A, B, C, D, and strangely... E is for failure), a score (the better each step is, the higher the score), and a number of perfect (spot on), great (pretty darned close), good (was still touching), almost (no cigar) and boo (totally missed)s. Each challenge will consist of getting a certain grade, not letting the dance meter run out, getting a certain score, or a certain number of perfects.

Once you have completed all these songs, you get a "medal" and an overhead map view opens up.

Using the dance pad, you can navigate to challenges you have not tried. Once you do all of these, an entirely new "B" area of the map shows up, and it's a little bit harder.

You can actually do some things with the points you earn on these challenges. If you passed a challenge that had a song you haven't seen before, that song will usually be available for "purchase" using your game points, and can be used in any of the other dance modes (including Workout mode). You can buy new on-screen avatars, new arrow cursors, new hints for connections on the dance master map, and "courses".

Some of these challenges can be really nasty. There are some songs that change the speed the arrows go at in the middle of the song. There's one that I have not passed yet which is a merengue or mambo beat (I can't remember which) - you're only allowed four steps that are not perfect or great. There's one that requires you to finish with a full dance bar - so you have to dance well enough to fill the bar, AND catch the simultaneous step right at the end.

All in all, a highly worthwhile purchase, and I find a lot more enjoyable than exercising on a stationary bike (or a real bike in the wintertime!) or equivalents. There's plenty of play for those with 1 1/2 left feet.

There are other odd little bits in the software. You can go into "My Room" and learn a little history about each song. There's a mode for editing together your own step sequence if you so care to (they suggest a hand controller instead of the pad for this one). There's a mode for practising a given song/difficulty as well.

If I may make one suggestion. Get the software and the pad separately. There's a combined bundle, but it costs the exact same amount as if you got the software and pad separately, and quite frankly, the separate pads are nicer. I'm a bit miffed; we've had this a little over a week, and the bundled pad has already failed - the up arrow is stuck. Is it worth the hassle over $20? Perhaps, perhaps not. We'll see how long the other pad (we were hoping to do it with two people at once, but living room space does not permit!) lasts. I'll report back :)

One other thing I wish they had was the means to have more than one saved game for the dance master mode. Perhaps they do, but the interface does not indicate it. So we're afraid to go New Game in case it revokes all of our songs, etc. etc.

The pads say to use bare feet. I use socks. Otherwise, I stick. That's not necessarily advice; use your judgement :)

If I get a chance to hold a party here, visitors are welcome, nay, encouraged, to try this out. Especially since we know how immune to embarrassment you all are :)

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