Tag Archives: Dance Dance Revolution

DDR Max Dance Dance Revolution 6th Mix — 2Q2015

DDR Max-01A new era of DDR

by Lyndsey Hicks
by Lyndsey Hicks

Let’s have a quick history review, shall we? Konami created the Dance Dance Revolution series in 1998 and by 2002, there were at least six entries in the main series. I’d gather that this meant DDR was pretty popular, but you would never hear Konami say that too loud. At some point, however, someone realized the magic that was DDR needed to come into the modern era. So, everything that was related to the first five entries in the series — with the exception of the song wheel and difficulty categories — was thrown out in favor of a complete overhaul. DDR Max was the result and with it comes a mixed bag of modern and old DDR.

Score-4-retrogradeGraphically, Max represents the beginning of a new era. Sure, it resembles current DDR games because they use the song wheel, but the colors became a little brighter and the little touches used to illustrate the different difficulties and categories are emphasized more. The interface is much easier to read, though the addition of the Groove Radar still has some ways to go here. It’s not exactly helpful in providing digestible information that helps make quick informed decisions. That’s a complaint that still stands today, so much so that I tend to ignore the meter altogether. Also, the foot rating is missing and song difficulty rating numbers have yet to come (that’s not until Max 2). But the song wheel has been freshened up so it looks a lot better and is a little more palatable.

Musically, the selection is among the best in the series. The one thing DDR Max-20about Max that’s notable about the music is the lack of a Paranoia mix. For a series trademark song, its absence is immediately noticeable, and quite frankly, drags the mix down a few notches. There’s a few throwJP flag w stick icon away songs like Share My Love and Dive, but overall it’s quite a few excellent choices thrown together to make a good song list. The variety is nice and it feels like a good fresh start for a series that had a lot of repeats in the first five games.

I don’t go back and play 6th Mix often, mostly because I can’t deal with a lack of Paranoia in my life at this point. As a DDR old head and one who owns the American version as well as the Japanese version, I applaud the change up that Konami pursued. It was a bold move that paid off in the long run: DDR still looks like a lot like this form, even with at least eight more games under its belt as a series. Sometimes, a change in pace is needed to keep the dance groove going.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nirr98TpleQ

DDR trivia

* DDR Max is the first game to feature a 10-foot difficulty song. Max 300 was officially the first 10-footer in the history of the series, though it wouldn’t receive its official rating until Max 2 was released.

* Max 300, the boss song of the mix, features 573 steps in its Heavy difficulty chart. 573 is known as the Konami number, a number that relates to the romanized pronunciation of the company’s name.

* Max is the first DDR game to feature the Light/Standard/Heavy difficulty scheme, dance point system, speed mods, Extra Stage/One More Extra Stage and freeze arrows. The difficulty scheme would stay in place until the release of DDR SuperNOVA in 2006.

* Two songs introduced in the mix, Flash in the Night and Follow Me, are the only two songs in the series that do not have an official foot rating. These two songs were introduced in 6th Mix, which is the only mix that does not use the foot rating system. They have never appeared in later mixes, which gave official Konami numbered ratings to all songs.

DDR Max 2 — 2Q2014

ddr-max-2-16

Choosing a seventh dance card

by Lyndsey Hicks
by Lyndsey Hicks

There comes a time in every long-running gaming franchise when said franchise has to grow up. That transition may come in the form of a new coat of paint or through a purging of characters, a reboot, if you will. But every franchise goes through it, and Bemani and Dance Dance Revolution, in particular, are no strangers to this. By the point of Max 2, the seventh main mix in the series, DDR had to do something at the risk of growing stale. So, continuing the trends started in Max it was.

Max 2 presents itself as an interesting beast, even if you’re intimately familiar with the series. There’s a new mode to play, Oni — which introduces the concept of a “three strikes and you’re out policy” with courses to play — and the overall look and feel has been upgraded from the days of yore. Max 2 represented the middle of a new era for DDR, begun with the wholesale do-over of Max. There’s not much new in the way of concepts for Max 2, and that’s all fine and well. Since Max’s changes were regarded as a failure and an unnecessary slash-and-burn of the franchise, Max 2 works toward undoing the mess made previously.

Score-4The game does well with updated aesthetics. The song wheel (introduced in 5th Mix), the foot rating (dropped in Max), Groove Radar (introduced in Max in favor of the foot rating) and Freeze arrows return. The re-introduction of the foot rating system is the best idea that could have come from cleaning up Max’s mess. The Groove Radar and foot rating system give you all of the pertinent song difficulty information that you will ever need. The song wheel looks better than ever since it’s now in its third iteration and Freeze arrows don’t seem to be such an aberration as they once were in Max.

The song list is interesting mix of updates to old favorites as well as ddr-max-2-05new entries aimed at adding something new to DDR. Not that Max didn’t do that very well, but Max 2 is about a greater variety of songs and it shows in the fact that there’s not a new Paranoia in sight — at least in the arcade version. The home version attempts to inject a new iteration of the familiar song, but it’s not nearly as successful as it thinks it is. Yes, Paranoia Survivor, one of the boss songs of the sequel Extreme, is present and available for play in the Japanese console version, but its inclusion as a preview song isn’t really necessary. And it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Why destroy the myth of Survivor — the first 10-footer Paranoia — by showing its hand early? My problem with Max 2 is illustrated by this point: JP flag w stick iconThe game sometimes feels like a re-tread of previous entries, and it shouldn’t. I was under the impression that the reason for the debacle created by blowing up DDR with Max was to avoid just the sort of problems that you’re going to run into with Max 2. Though, in its favor, Max 2 has Maxx Unlimited, which is my favorite Maxx song out of the entire bunch.

I have to commend Konami for at least trying to right the wrongs committed with Max’s well- meaning philosophy of starting over. It just feels a trifle like Max 2 is slacking into old habits. Max 2 may not feel like it’s cheating on its diet started by Max’s slimdown but by having a few extra songs, Max 2 isn’t necessarily pushing the plate back like it should and it shows.

DDR 5th Mix — 2Q2014

ddr-5th-mix-05

The last of an era for DDR

by Lyndsey Hicks
by Lyndsey Hicks

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.

Score-4-retrograde5th 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 ddr-5th-mix-14introduction 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.

JP flag w stick iconThe 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.