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.