DDRMAX: Dance Dance Revolution

DDRMAX: Dance Dance Revolution

Written by Charlie Sinhaseni on 12/12/2002 for PS2  

Dance Dance Revolution is the ultimate geek’s dream, it allows them to escape the horrid torments of reality and for a few brief moments, showcase their skills on a stage where like-minded individuals can watch and adore them. Sure passersby (like me) will laugh and scoff at them but in the end, a dedicated DDR player has to be respected, he’s willing to throw all his pride and inhibitions out the window for a few moments of geekdom glory. Thankfully Konami decided to bring their giggling school girl megahit Dance Dance Revolution to the home market so that closet players the world over would be able to play without fear of jeer or ridicule.

After releasing a few run of the mill titles for the PSOne, Konami has decided to do things right with their first next-generation release, DDR Max. This time around the lineup has been beefed up to include over 65 songs, about half of which are available from the start. New ones are unlocked by obtaining high scores, by beating the game and even by losing the game. This makes playing through the game’s core single-player mode much more rewarding each and every single time.

I found this game’s lineup to be much more beefier and robust than the ones that appeared in the PSOne releases. I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I’m some sort of DDR expert but I’ve been around enough arcades and gamers to know which songs are the catchiest. This means that you’ll get less of songs like Silent Hill and In the Navy and more of Stomp to my Beat and Era. The majority of the songs (not all) are pretty catchy and if you’re just a bystander, chances are you’ll be finding yourself tapping along with the beat. Sure this game has its stinkers as well but if you don’t like em, just avoid em.

One of the major additions to this year’s game is a complete graphics overhaul. Gone are those un-attractive and un-inspired still images and in their place are beautifully rendered background sequences. I’ll admit, they are quite catchy and it seems as if every song has a unique set of visuals. While they’re appealing to the eyes I feel that they sometimes serve as too much of a distraction. It’s like trying to watch MTV and concentrate on open heart surgery at the same time, it’s just too difficult. As the arrows travel up the screen they have a tendency to become lost in the backgrounds only to re-appear right before they need to be inputted. This won’t be a problem for advanced gamers who have the steps memorized but for a new or novice gamer this can be a major diversion.
Gameplay remains virtually unchanged, see the arrow, wait for it to reach the top of the screen, and input the corresponding movement. There’s this new freeze arrow that needs to be suppressed for a specific amount of beats but that’s about it. Sounds simple right? Well, not exactly. Imagine playing a song running at 190 beats per minute and the walk in the park suddenly becomes polka in hell. It’s a real challenge though, and this is where the game really shows off its stuff. The drive to perfect the songs and the thrill of showing up your friends really makes these songs worth mastering. The fact that they’re all pretty nice to listen to really improves the replay value as well.

Also included is a nice workout mode that counts the amount of calories that you’ve lost based on the number of steps that you’ve registered. While the accuracy of the counter has to be taken with a grain of salt, I found it to be an excellent way to work out while having a great time. My girlfriend tells me that you can lose a lot of weight and even get yourself in shape from playing the game. If you’re an out of shape gamer and are looking for a way to shed off those extra pounds, this just might be your hookup.

There’s also an edit mode that allows you to input your own steps so that you can customize the moves to your liking. Do you suffer from white man’s disease and the only two moves that you know are back and forth? Then go ahead and change the song so that you’ll only need to hit the left and right arrows. This adds a whole lot of replay value to an already addicting title.

What makes this game so unattractive is that you’ll feel like a complete moron while playing it. Imagine yourself standing in place and performing an imaginary dance that is comprised of only forwards, left, right, and backwards movements and you’ll get the picture. Playing the game in a room full of guys is more uncomfortable than your first 8th grade dance. I can’t even stand to play this game in front of my buddies, I feel like a complete and utter ass while doing so. Not because I suck at it mind you, (I’ve managed to score an A on some of the tougher songs) but because I just felt like a complete ass. Trust me, it’s impossible to look cool or macho while you’re in the midst of performing jumping jacks.

I’m not sure what to say about DDRMax, it’s an excellent title if you’re already a fan of the series but that’s about it. I’d say that the main positive comes from teen-aged girls’ attraction to the game. If you’re in the market to meet lots of 12-17 year old girls then you should definitely pick this one up. Make sure that it’s worth the sacrifice though, because you’ll more than likely lose the respect of the entire male species.

A pleasant release for US fans who aren’t really in to importing. While it’s not exactly the 2nd coming of DDR, it’s a worthy addition to the series.

Rating: 8.3 Good

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.


About Author

Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.

It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.

It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.

When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."

As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.

When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.

Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile

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