There are two sides to me when it comes to games like DANCE DANCE REVOLUTION in the arcades. Part of me craves the older days where arcades were dark smoky places and getting the high-score on the TEMPEST machine was the challenge of the week. How things have changed. With home machines becoming so powerful, not much is left for the arcades to provide, except for experiences that are typically too expensive to be had at home games like Skiball and many others.
But some of these games manage to find their way to the home consoles due to popular demand. DANCE DANCE REVOLUTION has been gaining a giant following in the states with the cheap plastic play mats that allow gamers to get their groove (or lack thereof) on in the comfort, and more importantly privacy, of their own home.
It has been rough to get a good DDR mix here in the U.S. Konami has tried to oblige the fans, with KONAMIX doing a decent job at satisfying the cravings. But still, most DDR fans resort to importing usually illegal copies of games for their dancing desires. DDRMAX is known in Japan as 6th MIX, but the U.S. version incorporates some of the songs and features from 7TH MIX.
First of all, DDR works with players dancing to arrows on the beat by moving their feet to one of four positions on a dance pad, sometimes two positions simultaneously (accomplished by jumping). MAX introduces freeze arrows to the game, where you have to hold your foot on that arrow during the designated time, sometimes while the other foot has to do some, for lack of a better term, fancy footwork.
In addition to the typical three difficulty levels, the game also has an extreme endurance mode called Oni. In Oni, if you miss more than three arrows you immediately lose, and you have to complete multiple songs. The only thing to make it slightly more accomplishable is that you can gain some lives back based on how well you do on a certain song.
The music mix is also top-notch as well. The typical Paranoia is in the game, along with some other cool stuff like Sandstorm and my favorite, Rythym and Police. The game also has two ultimate hidden songs, one of which will have steam coming from your ears. Overall I was pretty happy with the music in the game. There's plenty of slow and fast songs, and a good selection of new ones.
The typical multiplayer modes are back as well, along with the ultra cool Double mode where one person plays a song on two pads! The game is definitely more enjoyable in a social situation where everybody can make fun of each other and trade off as legs get tired.
Graphically there's a definite difference in the PS2 version over the previous PSX games. First of all, the graphics are much more crisp and the backgrounds are much more dynamic and colorful. The game's arrows also flow up the screen much more smoothly and going back and playing KONAMIX just doesn't seem right.
Sound wise there are no complaints. The music is great and I think the selection is definitely top-notch, with a couple of exceptions. It doesn't get any better than DDRMAX.
If you're at all into DDR, you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of DDRMAX as soon as you can. It's a fan's dream come true, and a great time to be had.