Konami is at it once again. The company known for games such as Metal Gear Solid
is bringing back its hugely successful international dance game to the Xbox this year with more of the same great dancing formula. Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix 2
returns with a few twists on old modes, boasts additional songs, and supports Xbox Live with a few interesting dance opportunities.
To be honest, this is one of those games that's still very good in its basic formula. Thus, each year it's always worth keeping your eye on especially if you like playing online and you're tired of last year's song list. But Konami doesn't bring enough significant changes to this year's effort to make Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix 2 that much newer or fresher than last the last Xbox effort. So while it's a great effort, it's not significantly, startlingly new by any means.
Gameplay, Graphics and Sound
Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix 2 is basically Dance Dance Revolution with new tweaks and additions. If you liked it before and you're not tired of it now, you're going to like it even more. You've got to buy a dance pad and give yourself some time in the easier modes to get the whole feel for it, but if you're new to the experience, this version, which includes the Training mode (gone from the previous version), is an excellent purchase.
This new version offers familiar modes and a few new ones. The Xbox Live functionality is enhanced with the ability to conduct online tournaments, upload content, and download new songs, steps, and characters. This should be awesome for the six and a half Xbox fans who like DDR AND play Xbox Live. Online players can compete head-to-head with other players in the North American market in various modes to all the songs.
The new offerings are Team Battle Mode and Synch Mode. Team Battle Mode runs more along the lines of competition. In it, multiple teams of two compete against one another for the most points. It's a combo fest for the most skilled players. Synch Mode is a cooperative two-player mode requiring players to synchronize their steps to master the song. This mode is tough. You must have a dance partner at about the same skill level to play -- and enjoy -- its particular style of co-op dancing. Overall, online dancing is a little different than your normal Xbox Live affair, but the connections we had were better than average and the lag was minimal.
Then there are the standard modes: Workout Mode (where you can track calories), Attack Mode (two players see how long they can last against one another), and Training Mode. Workout mode is perhaps the most applicable to gamers, as they'll need something to get them moving in between bouts of Halo 2 and erm...I>Halo 2. In it, you can decide songs, timing, calories, readouts and more to give you a healthy workout. You will, of course, have to buy a dance pad, and you must also own two legs with feet on them. Toes, other than the big one, are not required.
This year's bigger library of songs (which means 30-plus songs) is a real benefit. Because music is so subjective, the larger the song list the more likely you'll play this game multiple times. Additionally, once you grow more skilled at your favorite songs, you'll be more likely to try the harder, faster and less familiar songs. Granted, the heavily slanted J-pop and techno soundtracks aren't the most accessible songs I've ever heard, but the remix of a Vivaldi tune (from the "Four Seasons" concerto), for instance, might attract older folks (meaning kids more than 20-25 years old). Maybe.
Visually, you'll see a slightly improved set of menus, different backgrounds and newly styled characters (including downloadable ones). Other than that, there isn't much else to say about DDR Ultra Mix 2, which has never been about the visuals as it has been about gameplay and music. Audio wise, the game is chock full of songs, mostly J-pop, techno and huge loads of remixes -- none of which appeal to me all that much. But the DDR experience requires you to step into a slightly different world, so it's only appropriate the music be rather foreign too. Of course, for those fans of the series, this selection of songs has some things you'll like and some you'll probably like.
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