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DanceDanceRevolution II

Score: 92%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Health and Exercise/ Rhythm

Graphics & Sound:

DanceDanceRevolution has been around for quite a few years now. It is the original dance game that all the rest of the new ones spun off from. Over these years, DDR has made a few changes as well but the new DanceDanceRevolution II is much more similar to the original than the last few iterations have been, with a few minor differences.

The visuals in DDR II are a mixture of the original game and the newer ones. You have the classic dancers that you are used to, but you also have videos for a large majority of the songs. You can unlock outfits and customize your dancers in a variety of ways. If you're one that would rather see the dancers than the videos (because let's face it, the videos can be quite distracting when you're actually playing), you can choose to turn off the videos and see a dancer all the time.

The music is a very important part of dance games. In DDR II, there are a lot of songs available. 31 of the songs are unlocked at the beginning, so you have a lot to unlock as there are over 80 songs total. It's a very good mixture between classic DDR songs and new licensed songs. There are 19 songs licensed from artists such as Bruno Mars, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, and Miley Cyrus and there are almost as many new Konami Original songs. The rest is a good selection from previous games.


Gameplay:

The Main Menu in the new DanceDanceRevolution II is a bit more simplified from the last releases. There are four choices: Dance Mode, Workout Mode, Training Mode, and DDR School. If you've never played before, then you'll probably want to start with learning how to play the game. Training Mode is not where you learn to play anymore. Now, when you want to learn how to play the game, you choose DDR School. It'll give you step by step instructions on the game. Training Mode is where you can go to work on specific sections of a song that you might be having a difficult time getting right. This is really handy if you're just stuck on one spot and sick of failing the entire song just to play that little piece again.

The places that you'll spend most of the time are Dance Mode and Workout Mode. In Dance Mode, you choose how many people are playing and then select a song and choose short song or full song. As I mentioned before, there are only 31 songs to play at the beginning, but you'll unlock them quickly. You unlock songs by completing Challenges and you also unlock new outfits for your dancers with the Challenges. There are Challenge Tasks that you will be expected to clear. The first one is really easy! Some of the Challenges let you play any song and some give you a specific song. Once you complete one challenge, you'll be given the next one. If that one requires a specific song, you will automatically be on that song when you go back to the song list. You don't have to choose it, of course, but I like that it takes you right there so that you don't have to continually find the correct song. Once you get enough points to complete a Challenge, it goes on to the next one, even if you didn't finish all 4 tasks. You simply have to finish enough to get the points that you need. If you have a video for the song, then you don't see your dancer. If there's no video though, then you will get a dancer. There's no real reason to play the full song that I can find. The score is adjusted so that it's still the same max points, so playing the full song just means that you are playing longer for the same points. Of course, if you like the songs, that's probably a good thing.

On Workout Mode, you can set a password to protect your data from prying eyes. You set your weight and height and the game will tell you what your ideal weight is and what your current BMI and Obesity Index are. You can choose to workout by Calories Burned or Play Time and set goals. You can also leave it blank and just workout with no goal. You can still complete Challenge Tasks in Workout Mode, so really the only difference in Workout Mode and Play Mode is that Workout keeps up with your calories burned while you play.


Difficulty:

Over the years, the difficulty setting for DDR has been pretty much the same. The songs vary from 1 to 10 feet (feet are the measure). The one thing that is really different in DanceDanceRevolution II from all the previous DDR games is that the difficulty grading has changed. It is still measured in feet, but I noticed that the difficulty level feels much easier than before. What is now an 8 foot song feels more like a 6 foot song used to. Of course, that makes sense given that you can now play 14+ foot songs whereas before the highest was a 10 foot. This should make it so that there's a wider range, but even still, the most difficult songs feel a bit easier than before to me. Of course, part of that could be that a "Good" does not break a combo streak, which is much more lenient than before! You can even get a score of AA with a Good rating. The scoring ranges from E to AAA.

If you're looking for even more of a challenge, you can choose to play one player across two mats. While this might not sound difficult, it requires totally changing your brain on the normal way that you play so that you don't trip over your own feet. It'll give you a whole different outlook!


Game Mechanics:

Over the years, the basic controls have always stayed the same. You need to hit Up, Down, Left, or Right when the arrow gets to the top. In some of the more recent Wii versions though, they had added hand motions. I'm really quite glad that they took those out this time and returned to just the standard arrows. You can use either the dance pad or a controller to play. I do like this because there's only so long you can play on a dance pad without getting exhausted, so at that point, you can switch to a controller and continue playing. The dance pad that comes with the bundle plays exactly like they have in years past. It is responsive, but you might have to find a way to keep it from slipping on certain floors on very fast songs. That's true of almost all the dance pads I've found, though.

For those of you who preferred the arrow speed in Pump It Up, you can now change the arrow speed in DDR under the Options and then Individual Options. You can also change things like displaying your combo number or judgment, which I really liked because that combo was blocking the arrows for me. You can also do things like turn off the movies, if you always want to see your dancer or if the movies distract you. The game will autosave for you after each song, so you don't need to worry about losing data. Whatever the announcer is saying comes out of the speaker on the Wii-mote if you are using that instead of the Dance Pad. For some reason, I've always found that annoying as I just don't think that noises should be coming from my hand.

I've been a DDR fanatic since I first started playing it over 10 years ago. I wasn't a huge fan of the last couple of games as I didn't like the added hand motions, but I'm very happy to now see a return to the original gameplay. If you have been a fan or if you're looking for a great way to exercise, I recommend that you go pick up DanceDanceRevolution II today!


-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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