Review by neothe0ne

"DDR debuts on the Xbox with style"

Dance Dance Revolution originated in the arcade. The concept was simple: step in four directions and "dance" to music. Things have evolved since the arcade, and with the debut of DDR on the Xbox, brand new features have been added to the franchise, but not without flaws.

DDR Ultramix was developed by Konami of Hawaii instead of Konami of Tokyo, and the difference shows. Oni Mode, Endless Mode, Beginner Mode, and Marvelous ratings are nowhere to be found, and the timings of the arrows give different ratings than in the PlayStation and arcade games. A longtime player of either of the two above systems would get Great's and Good's instead of Perfect's for his steps. While a minor annoyance easily fixed in the game's options or by changing your coordination, newcommers to DDR can't miss what they never had, and you eventually get used to the offbeat timing compared to the other games. In addition, the font of the arrow ratings and combo numbers is different, as well as the look of the health meter; overall, they look much smoother and more professional than the GUI found in Ultramix's PS2 counterparts. However, songs are still chosen on the classic spinwheel, the spinwheel can still be classified by artist, song name, and game order, the difficulty is still shown in the form of ten feet, and the three difficulties of Light, Standard, and Heavy are still here.

DDR Ultramix contains a decent selection of Konami Originals and licensed songs. Fourty-two songs are playable out of the box, with an additional nine unlockable and an additional thirty purchaseable. Classics like Can't Stop Falling In Love (Speed Mix), Drop The Bomb (System S.F. Mix), and Dive are included, as well as challenging songs like Trip Machine (Luv Mix), MAX 300, and Gradiusic Cyber (AMD5 Mix). Castles in the Sky, a licensed song by Ian Van Dahl, is probably the best of the four licensed songs, although a decent mix by Paul Oakenshield is also part of the song selection. Downloadable songpacks add favorites included Burning Heat! (3 Option Mix), Burning The Floor, Midnite Blaze, and Dynamite Rave. (For extreme DDR freaks, you'll find that Konami of Hawaii changed some of the steps that Konami of Tokyo set for the DDR Festival crossover songs in the game.) A great majority of the song library is enjoyable musically and in steps, with songs for beginners and enough challenging songs to satisfy pros, so Ultramix excels in this category.

When you start a song, you can enter arrow options. These include things such as speed up arrows, making arrows appear suddenly, and enabling or disabling freeze arrows. When the song starts, the game will give you a Ready message and then start giving you arrows to step on. Arrows scroll from the bottom to the top, where a set of four arrow outlines lie. When arrows reach these outlines, you need to step on them. You can either get the grades of Perfect, Great, Good, Almost, or Boo. When you get consecutive steps graded at Great or Perfect, your combo rises. This combo will stop and start over if you receive a grade of Good or lower on an arrow. During the song, a cell-shaded figure will dance in front of a background FMV. These FMV's can range from an artist's music video to random visualizations. In the main Game Mode, at the end of a song, the game will give you a grade between E and AAA. E means you failed the song before it finished, and D means you got through. Depending on how many arrows you missed, your grade will rise. AA means you had the highest possible max combo, and AAA means all your steps were graded Perfect. In Battle Mode, the game will rank you first, second, third, or fourth where applicable. Game Mode only allows one or two players to play at once, while Battle Mode is the only game mode which lets more than two players play at the same time. As in past DDR's, you can play Doubles and use two dancepads to complete one stepchart.

For the first time in the history of the DDR series, you can go online. On Xbox Live, you can play games with other people or download new songpacks for $5 each. However, as with other portions of the game, Xbox Live support is severely stunted. When someone makes a game, they have to choose what kind of game (Score or Point), what difficulty the game is, what song to play, and how many people can join. You don't get to specify a game name, nor can you use arrow mods. Once you create the game, people can join, and in this game room screen you can see whether people are using controllers or dance pads or talk to people using a headset. Once you start and finish the game, you receive a score report and get booted back to the main menu of the Ultramix Live menu. If you go to Quick Match, you can choose a game from a list, where the difficulty and other options are shown, or the game will ask you to create a room if none are currently running. Optimatch allows you to search for a specific kind of game, but with the few number of people left online, this mode is nearly useless. Live also keeps your record of your wins and number of games.

All in all, DDR Ultramix is a good first attempt at a unique DDR for the Xbox. A lot could have been better, but a lot could have been worse.

Pros:
-First time in the series that four people can play splitscreen
-First time in the series that online play is enabled
-Contains a good selection of classic Konami Originals

Cons:
-Not a lot of unique/new content
-Arrow timings are slightly off
-Missing game modes featured in the PS2 and Arcade


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 07/29/05, Updated 09/15/05


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