Review: Why embarrass yourself at the arcades when you can embarrass yourself at home?!
There are tons of great games currently available for the Xbox, eh? A lot of fun can be had playing a popular shooting game like Halo 2 with friends while relaxing in your favourite big easy chair with a big bowl of chips or something. Sure that sounds like a great way to spend a few hours and all, but in this day and age of fad weight loss plans like counting carbs, sitting around playing video games isn't the healthiest thing in the world. That's the beauty of a Dance Dance Revolution game, you are still playing a video game but you are also giving yourself an intense workout at the same time! In 2003 Xbox owners got a chance to experience the DDR craze in Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix. Now Konami is giving us a sequel to this crazy floor mashing game and it comes with more music, all new graphics, and improved multi-player features.
If you don't know the deal here is what you do in this odd dance pad game. As the background music is playing, you must enter the correct beats with your feet as multiple arrows appear from the bottom of the screen until they reach the main 4 directional bar. It isn't as easy as it sounds because each song has it own list of confusing patterns to master, and certain tracks like MAXX Unlimited (from DDR Max 2 fame) are insanely difficult.
Ultramix 2 fixes a lot of problems the original had. One necessary improvement that part 2 has is the game's much needed Beginner's mode. One big issue most players had with the original complained that it was way too hard even on the easiest Light setting. With this addition of an extra difficulty now, any new gamer just starting out will be able to ease into these sometimes confusing games. The only downside to the Beginner difficulty is that the game won't save your scores in this mode, even though you could in most of the Playstation2 games.
The game also has a new Party mode for people who are lucky enough to have the space for up to four dance mats in a room. One of the coolest new games in Party mode is called ?Attack'. Here players earn either offensive or defensive strikes to fight off your opponents if you score enough combos. Another game lets one player try to dance on 4 pads at once, and if your friends are looking for a real challenge, there's the Synch mode. This game forces the players to work together and try to score a perfect combo (?great' and ?perfect' only).The first one to break the streak is the loser, so you'd better be fairly good at the game before you try this.
The game also includes many features found in past DDR games, like the Workout mode. If you are one of those people that like to count calories you'll be happy to know that the Workout mode measures what you burned off after a song. I know I don't have a photo of myself on Gaming Target but trust me; my legs are in pretty damn good shape now and I owe a lot of that to playing with these DDR games at least once a week. OK, that sounded a little weird - but I just wanted to point out that for exercise, these DDR games really work.
One of the bigger features in this DDR is the huge list of 70 tracks. One of my favourite tracks is 'Rubberneckin': a famous Elvis Presley song remixed by Paul Oakenfold. You can even unlock and buy new tracks on Xbox Live if you want even more music. If you love techno and easy going rock then you'll feel right at home with the music here, but doesn't mean everyone will. A Custom Soundtrack feature would have been great for gamers to edit and create their routines for their favourite tracks instead just listening to what's there, but sadly there is no such option. Talk about a missed opportunity!
Ultramix 2 also includes vastly improved graphics over the first game. You have the option to select from 4 different background dancers, and they sure put those blocky PS2 dancers on DDR Extreme to shame. The game also has some new colourful background effects, and it's great to see that Konami isn't just recycling past backgrounds from other DDR games like the first Ultramix did. Unfortunately, with over 70 songs here it doesn't take long for the new graphics to repeat from track to track. This is easily the best looking DDR game currently out there, but remember - that isn't saying much.