Review by neothe0ne

Reviewed: 11/07/05

Konami and Nintendo finally deliver DDR to an American Nintendo console

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, though no significant changes were ever introduced. With Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix, the DDR scene has received a breath of much-needed fresh air, though returning to its "simple" (and painfully easy and boring) roots.

DDR: Mario Mix's engine and gameplay are something different. All 29 songs in the game have their own background movies, with your chosen character, Mario or Luigi, fitting in wonderfully alongside other random background characters or bosses in a Mario-esque 3D environment. It is somewhat disappointing that only Mario and Luigi are selected, especially since Waluigi, Wario, and Bowser have such hawt dance moves ;). Compared to past DDR's, the timing window is huge. It's easier to get Perfect's than before, the Great window almost extends into the Boo window of any other DDR, and jump combos now count as two entirely separate entities. Because of this, you can hit one arrow of a jump and not the other, or get a Perfect on one arrow and a Great on the other. The grades that you can receive are radically different from other DDR's; in Mario Mix, you can receive an A, B, C, D, or F (other DDR's have AAA, AA, E, and no F). DDR: Mario Mix has five difficulties, one of which has to be unlocked by playing the fourth difficulty, but the first three difficulties are basically all the "Light" of any other DDR, with the last two being a mix of Standard and easier Heavy songs. There are no beats-per-minute counters, no groove radars, no foot-ratings. There are no arrow mods in the game, and while you can move the timing window forwards and backwards, you can't choose any other note skins (as in, the note skin where quarter beats are red, eighth beats are blue, and so on isn't here). This is somewhat offset by the fact that arrows on different beats change neon colors at different times.

DDR: Mario Mix's Free Play has one song out of the box: a remix of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. To unlock all the other songs for use in Free Mode, you have to play through the Story Mode twice, once on Normal and once on Hard (EX). The selection of songs here are decent enough. Maybe as many as half the songs are extremely boring and slow, while the other half are fast, energetic, and quality techno remixes of past Mario songs, and even some public domain songs. The faster and energetic techno remixes more than make up for the easy steps. As previously stated, there are five difficulties, with story-mode songs receiving "Mush Mode", which will be explained later. The hardest song on Super Hard difficulty would probably equate to a high 8 or low 9-footer in another DDR (and also happens to be just about the only song with "crossovers" and "spins"), while the easiest song in the game could well equate to a negative 7-footer in another DDR.

Other modes are featured in the game are Workout Mode, Minigame Mode, and Story Mode. Workout Mode can track the number of calories you've lost while playing DDR; Minigame Mode lets you play minigames featured in the Story Mode, all of which involve the arrows, and Story Mode is what you have to play to unlock songs for Free Play (which includes Versus). Mario and Toad are the main characters, with Toad playing the role of talking backpack. The dialogue is funny in a cheesy way, as are the events that happen to Mario and Toad on their journey to save the Music Keys, and while the story is pretty lame, it's enjoyable the way nearly all other Mario games are. In Story Mode, you will play a mix of songs, Mush Mode songs, and minigames to go through each of the four worlds to get to the Music Key. Surprisingly, Princess Peach is absent from the game.

The biggest feature of DDR: Mario Mix, however, is Mush Mode. This is a mode involving enemies from Mario games that replace certain steps. These enemies/arrows should either be stepped on like normal arrows, avoided like mines, or add little tweaks to gameplay. Koopas need to be stepped on once, then stepped on a quarter beat again to avoid losing life. On the second step, the Koopa shell flies south and destroys an upcoming arrow. Some arrows need to be stepped on to repel a huge Boo or Octopus away. Cheap-Cheaps and flames can curve around until they find an arrow to land at, which you need to step on like a normal arrow with a wavy path. Some Cheap-Cheaps will even move arrows into another column when there's only one quarter beat left before it should be stepped on. This significantly increases the difficulty of the game, even for experts, as it requires concentration. A problem with some of these Mush arrows is that the vivid backgrounds of the game can make you not notice one of them. For example, there will be Boos and Flames in the backgrounds of some songs, and although they look different, what's one Boo or Flame among many?

Overall, Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix is a great introduction of DDR to the GameCube (which sadly has a sterotype of being owned by all the little kids.) While DDR: Mario Mix was without doubt targeted towards kids and non-DDR'ers, DDR maniacs and experts can still have fun in Mario Mix by remembering that music games should have good music, not just challenging steps. Although DDR Mario Mix has many flaws or ideas that should have been included, most are small and nitpicky things, such as playable characters. DDR Mario Mix has also introduced new gameplay mechanics into the somewhat stale DDR scene, which only a Mario environment could perfect. If Konami and Nintendo didn't make a sequel to Mario Mix on Revolution, I would be very much surprised.

-Story mode is funny, in the usual cheesy-Mario way
-Mush Mode is a totally new and fun gameplay mechanic to DDR
-Most songs are very upbeat and fun...

-...but other songs are slow and boring, and so are their stepcharts
-Only 29 songs
-Unlocking songs for Free Play is tedious
-No Edit Mode or arrow options
-Some vivid backgrounds get in the way of Mush Mode-specific arrow/characters

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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