Review by neothe0ne

"Best DDR released in the US to date"

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 second DDR on the Xbox, we could be looking at the best DDR ever released in either arcade or for the home consoles.

DDR Ultramix 2's engine was drastically revamped compared to its predecessor. With a new and unique GUI instead of a generic PS2 one, the "resolution" in-game has "increased". Compared to past DDR's and the first Ultramix, the arrows are slightly smaller than before, which lets you see farther down the stepchart. One of the "problems" many have with Ultramix 2's engine is that there seems to be a delay between stepping on an arrow and receiving your grade, which throws many people off. Many have also complained that Ultramix 2 has the largest Perfect window of any DDR ever released. A longtime player of DDR on the first Ultramix or the Tokyo DDR's would agree; they would also notice that the timings in Ultramix 2 are otherwise dead-on with the arcade and PS2 timings. Beginner difficulty has been added this time around, along with the brand-new Party Mode which includes four brand-new gameplay types including one-vs-one "battleship", two forms of co-op, and a "pass the bomb or lose" game. Pros at DDR may be saddened to know that KCEH has still not given us Oni Mode for songs like A and V, but the new gameplay types more than make up for the lack of an official Oni mode. Edit Mode is back once again, so there's no loss.

DDR Ultramix 2 contains the largest amount of licensed songs in history, and has a default songlist of around 70 songs. Moreover, Ultramix 2 has the most number of 10-footers available from start to date. Challenge-seeking players will be delighted to find two MAX songs in the game (one of which is brand-new), and oldschool DDR players will be delighted to find songs like Moonlight Shadow, B4U, and Dam Damiram. All six songpacks from Ultramix are compatible with Ultramix 2, so with a total of twelve downloadable songpacks (60 songs), you have a grand total playlist of over one hundred thirty songs.

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. Ultramix 2 features extremely vivid videos, some so much so that they camalflauge the arrows. 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. Because Ultramix 2 uses the MAX scoring system, you can now get a AA without having a max combo. In Battle Mode, the game will rank you first, second, third, or fourth where applicable. Game Mode now allows four players to play at the same time and the only mode to record letter grades and scores, while Battle Mode and Party Mode do not record letter grades. As in past DDR's, you can play Doubles and use two dancepads to complete one stepchart.

For the second time, DDR goes on Xbox Live. You can now take guests online with you, but to do so requires disconnecting yourself from Live after the game boots to the main menu, then reconnecting. Only then will the guest sign-in screen appear when Xbox Live is selected. 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 can now specify a game name, though it's impractical and inconvienient, but you still can't 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 resume in your game room. Then, the host can choose a new song on the same difficulty to play again. 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. A new Tournament mode allows sixteen players to get together and compete for number one. An unfortunate change from Ultramix 1 is that the Xbox Live leaderboards for Ultramix 2 now only displays players who have played recently, so not all records are kept. In addition, many players have game records of -1, which suggests the board is also broken in many ways. A new feature is the ability to share Edit stepcharts on Xbox Live for others to download.

DDR Ultramix 2 is by far the best installment of DDR in the United States yet. It easily beats the other DDR's in the arcade and on the PS2 in songlist, game modes, and variety of difficulty, and expands the horizons of DDR. Konami of Hawaii is proving to be very skilled at the production of high-quality Dance Dance Revolution titles.

Pros:
-New Party Mode containing four gameplay modes
-Largest songlist in a DDR console game ever
-Better Xbox Live concept
-Guests can be taken online
-Support for original Ultramix songpacks

Cons:
-Vivid background videos sometimes distract from arrows on screen
-Step/grade delay issue
-Xbox Live leaderboards are relative to recent games


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 09/15/05, Updated 10/23/06


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