You know what you're getting here.
Well, that might not be entirely true. You know what you're getting here if you've previously played Dance Dance Revolution on the Wii, through the original Hottest Party
that came out last year. That was the game that set the template for this one, marrying the arrow-matching feet-focused dance mat peripheral design the DDR series has always been known for with the fresh introduction of arm-waving elements. Hottest Party had you dancing to the beat like always, but also demanded that you strike a pose with your hands -- the right grasping a Wii Remote and the left a Nunchuk -- from time to time during each fast-paced rhythm challenge.
So if you played that, you know what you're getting here.
Dance Dance Revolution: Hottest Party 2 is the inevitable sequel to the series's Wii debut, another example of the strategy Konami has employed with the series over the years. That strategy? Bring the series to a new hardware platform, give it a fresh subtitle like "Extreme" or "Universe" or, here, "Hottest Party," bundle it with a dance mat and then iterate the same design, year after year, with regular numbered sequels. Hottest Party 2 stood at attention on the E3 show floor here in L.A. right next to its cousins currently serving the Xbox and PlayStation brands, each one of them lending further support to the idea that Konami doesn't do anything new with its DDRs in the middle of a hardware cycle.
Not that it's a bad thing. DDR fans know what they like, and the continued success of the franchise seems to support the wisdom of producing sequels that are less actual sequels and more just fresh packs of new songs to play in the same way as before. Hottest Party 2 feels like that -- not really a full-on follow-up to Hottest Party, just the same game with a new song selection.
Now, having said all that, I myself never played the first Hottest Party on Wii. Slipping off my Reeboks and stepping sock-footed onto the mats here at E3 was my first experience with the series since Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix
came to the GameCube a few years back. And though rusty were my rhythmic arrow-stomping skills, I was able to adapt to the design and its Wii console differences quickly.
The feet-controlled parts are all the same -- a series of arrows appears on the screen, and when they reach the matching icons at the top of the display you stomp on the corresponding direction on the pad on the floor. Up, up, down, down. Left, right, left, right. But the left and the right arrows get a different kind of icon that appears on occasion -- a diamond-shaped symbol holding a controller in a closed fist. When that icon arrives, you waggle the corresponding controller to that direction instead of stomping the ground. (The Nunchuk hands the left arrow, the Wii Remote the right.)
It's an added element that not every DDR fan was happy with last year, preferring to keep the focus firmly on their feet, but my first experience with the mechanic was favorable here. I just got finished making the case that the DDR series doesn't make great strides in its gameplay in the middle of hardware generations, but Hottest Party certainly did do something new in bringing the series to Wii for the first time.
And it also speaks to the long-running appeal of the series that each individual installment feels instantly accessible, whether or not you've played any of the past versions. My experience with HP2 didn't depend on any previous familiarity with HP1 -- I just went right in, understood what to do, and had fun.
So all of this is just to say that Hottest Party 2 is exactly what you'd expect a Wii DDR sequel to be. It doesn't do anything drastically different from the first Hottest Party, but that's just as well -- because you could comfortably jump into experiencing this one without any previous familiarity with the series. It's a safe and conservative strategy, not to rock the boat too much with the franchise's numbered sequels. But the franchise has been so successful for so long that the strategy must be working just fine.
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