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Dance Dance Revolution Universe 2

Score: 85%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Rhythm/ Party/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

With rhythm games being all the rage these days, sometimes it is fun to go back to one of the originators of the genre. Dance Dance Revolution Universe 2 is the genre-defining game's second appearance on the 360 and though it doesn't stray far from its formula, it is enough to give DDR fans a reason to break out their dance mats again while making the experience a little more accessible to newcomers.

Without music, DDR is just coordinated arrow jumping. Rather than stick to the more techno-heavy soundtracks of past games, DDR Universe 2 shakes things up a bit by pulling in a wide mix of songs going as far back as the 70's. These include songs like Sister Sledge's "He's the Greatest Dancer", Kool & the Gang's "Jungle Boogie", The Bangles's "Walk Like an Egyptian" and Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out". While these songs are great, the real highlight is Men Without Hats's "The Safety Dance", which comes complete with the original video. Though it may not be the most P.C. of things to say, there's something about dancing midget court jesters that can make anything automatically awesome. Ravers shouldn't have fear though, since the techno is still here too.

Speaking of visuals, DDR Universe 2 does a great job at giving you something to look at in the background while giving you absolutely nothing to look at in the background. Confused? Put it this way, a bunch of scrolling arrows would look a bit plain so the backgrounds are fixed up with flashy visuals that do enough to stimulate your rods and cones without distracting you from the scrolling arrows. It also helps that there's no equivalent of the first game's Cascada video, which was easily the most distracting thing to ever grace a DDR game.


One of the goals of the first DDR Universe was to help bring in a new set of players. DDR Universe 2 sticks to the trend, which basically means it does very little to actually push the concept forward. If you've played one DDR game, you've more or less played them all (except for, perhaps, the Wii version). Of course, this isn't a bad thing since the original formula has worked for years and is still fun.

Rather than reinventing the wheel, DDR Universe 2 instead takes more of a "Madden" approach. All of the modes found in the last game are here, including Challenge, Workout and Quest. Like all of the modes, Challenge is self-explanatory and gives the player objectives to complete while dancing to each song. Workout Mode is the basic game of DDR, but with a calorie counter that shows how many calories you've burned while playing. This makes for a great "feel good" sense of accomplishment until you notice how many calories you burned off in comparison to that handful of chips you had before playing. Oh well... back to the dance mat.

Quest Mode plays much like it did in the last game, only with a few tweaks to make it a little easier to understand and play. After creating an avatar, you take your skills on the road and complete objectives. For those times where you just want to take a break, or just want to learn the songs, Jukebox Mode lets you listen to the music and stare at the seizure-inducing visuals that accompany each song. Jukebox Mode is also where you will come to really appreciate those, "there but not there" visuals I confused you with earlier. Rounding out the slate of returning modes is Edit, where you can create your own custom dance steps for songs.

Freestyle Mode is the only new addition to the game. While it hasn't proven too hard to get non-game playing family and friends to pick up an instrument in Guitar Hero or Rock Band, there has always been a certain barrier that keeps people from jumping on the dance pad. Freestyle is a remedy to that and allows you to just move around however you'd like without having to worry about scores or failure. Hardcore fans will probably decry this mode as yet another company bowing down to "casuals" (hate to break it to you guys, but there are more of them then there are of us), but it is a great mode - especially if you have younger kids.


While the hardcore contingent will have to find a way to cope with casual-targeted modes like Freestyle, they can rest assured knowing that Dance Dance Revolution Universe 2 is every bit as tough as past games... well, except for that whole introductory mode that helps break in new players.

Each song has multiple difficulty levels, ranging from really easy to ankle-breaking hard. Even on easier settings, songs are still challenging enough that you'll get a nice sense of accomplishment. Like other games, it doesn't take long to "get" DDR, though it will take a while before you feel really comfortable with it - which is probably where the aforementioned "entry barrier" stems from. If you're not rhythmically inclined, you'll probably want to stick to Freestyle since even easier levels can feel merciless.

Game Mechanics:

Again, Dance Dance Revolution Universe 2 doesn't do much to advance the original formula - so there really isn't much to see here that you haven't already seen in the hundreds (or, at least it feels like hundreds) of other versions of the game. But, for those who are just getting into the whole rhythm game concept, a little explanation is in order.

The concept behind DDR is simple: match arrows in time with the music. When the arrow says up, press up. It isn't that hard until you have to quickly jump between various button combos that, at least early on, will have you swearing that the game was made specifically for people with the motor responses of a spider monkey jacked up on Mountain Dew. While you can use a controller, the game is more enjoyable when playing on the special dance mat that comes packaged with the game. It takes some time to break the pad in (the folds are a bit stubborn when you first unfold the mat), though once you break it in, its fine.

The only downside to the mat is its size; it isn't the smallest of peripherals and it can take up a lot of room. This is annoyingly true when trying to play with multiple players. Although the game supports up to four players, you'll quickly run out of room. The cord on the mat is also a bit short, causing more problems.

Dance Dance Revolution Universe 2 doesn't take many risks with its gameplay, but sometimes there isn't any reason to. Unless recent rhythm games have suddenly made you curious about trying others, DDR Universe 2 probably won't win you over if you've never had the desire to play it. However, if you want to try something new, or are a 360-owning DDR fan, it's a solid choice.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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