DDR 5th Mix — 2Q2014 issue

The last of an era for DDR

The end of an era had to come for Dance Dance Rev­o­lu­tion at some point, and that final­i­ty hit like a ton of bricks with 5th Mix. There real­ly was­n’t much of a going-away par­ty or cel­e­bra­tion of all that was DDR before the storm­ing of the gates that was Max, but 5th Mix rep­re­sent­ed the cul­mi­na­tion of the phi­los­o­phy that was danc­ing with arrows before speed mods and Freeze arrows came along and changed everything.

5th Mix isn’t bad, if you’re used to play­ing DDR. At this point, every­thing is in place and you should know how things work: You step on four dif­fer­ent arrows in time with songs in three dif­fi­cul­ties: Basic, Trick and Mani­ac. You miss enough times, it’s game over. If you should pass the song, you’re grad­ed on how well you did. 5th Mix does­n’t intro­duce any­thing new mechan­ics-wise, and that’s fine con­sid­er­ing it’s con­tent with let­ting you play DDR exact­ly the way you’ve played before. Instead, it makes changes in the aes­thet­ics, and that’s where change is need­ed the most.

5th Mix changed the way the DDR struc­ture looked with the great intro­duc­tion of the song wheel. Gone was the old look of CDs in a juke­box and in came a cir­cu­lar sec­tioned wheel — sim­i­lar to the one found on the “Price is Right” — that fea­tures all of the songs avail­able for play. This over­haul brings with it a bet­ter look and a bet­ter feel over­all to the game, and it does­n’t hurt that it’s the first in the series to run at 60 frames per sec­ond. Also, 5th Mix was the first in the series to intro­duce a unique col­or scheme that “rep­re­sent­ed” the mix. This brings a fresh look to the table and works won­ders with mak­ing a seem­ing­ly tired con­cept look new.

The music is anoth­er help in the revival. A few old­er favorites returned, but there’s quite a few new tunes and they stand out. One of my favorites, Heal­ing Vision ~Angel­ic Mix~, steals the show and makes its pres­ence known as a boss song as does Can’t Stop Fallin’ in Love Speed Mix and Afrono­va Primeval. The rest of the songlist is kind of take it or leave it, but there’s a good mix, which is essen­tial to any DDR mix’s long-term replay value.

Where I find a few prob­lems with 5th Mix is also with­in the song list. Thank­ful­ly, 5th Mix is the only ver­sion that fea­tures the ridicu­lous long ver­sions of a few songs. Prob­a­bly the most egre­gious of these unnec­es­sary uses of space is the over­ly long ver­sion of Dyna­mite Rave. Besides not need­ing yet anoth­er ver­sion of the elder­ly song, the long ver­sion is LONG, much too long and it bor­ders on obnox­ious. There is absolute­ly no need for a three-minute ver­sion of any already corny song that appears much too fre­quent­ly in DDR songlists in the ear­ly days. And much like Dyna­mite Rave, the oth­er long ver­sions don’t real­ly add much to the setlist. If I want to hear a ver­sion of Brit­ney Spears’ Oops I Did it Again, I’d just lis­ten to the orig­i­nal. And B4U ~Glo­ri­ous style~ is a com­plete waste of space that could have been occu­pied with oth­er wor­thy songs that did­n’t make the cut, like Rhythm and Police.

5th Mix was a good last call to an era of DDR that most play­ers did­n’t know was com­ing to an end. A pass­able song list, great upgrade over pre­vi­ous ver­sions and a stream­lined approach to the cur­rent DDR struc­ture meant a decent ver­sion to dance to with few prob­lems. It’s not the great­est DDR mix, but we can prob­a­bly safe­ly say at least it was­n’t Max. 5th Mix found its home right in the mid­dle of the series, where it was sup­posed to be all along.