Note: Although listed in our PlayStation 2 archives, Dance Dance Revolution Konamix is only available for the PlayStation.
Let me see a show of hands (or should I say fancy footwork) for those of you who are dancing animals. Now, when I say that, I don’t mean those people who know routines from MTV, or can pick up steps by watching people perform. I’m talking about those true machines that are so funky, they bust a groove while they’re driving their cars. Those people who hold a nightclub’s spotlights hostage with their moves. Those individuals who did Tom Cruise’s Risky Business shtick in the womb. For those of you who feel that you fit the bill, your time has come. Dance fever has hit the US in a big way, and Dance Dance Revolution is the culprit behind the rump-shaking, booty-quaking craze. With its catchy songs, addictive gameplay, and universal appeal, the game has caught on like wildfire. And while Americans have been denied access to this long running series, Konami seeks to rectify that with the debut of DDR’s sequel, Dance Dance Revolution Konamix.
The alternative tagline for DDR Konamix could’ve been akin to that for chess: Easy to learn, hard to master. The premise behind the game is very simple. The game scrolls arrows on the screen synced up to a song. At the top of the screen are transparent arrows that are known as the step zone. Using either the controller or the dance mat, you hit the corresponding direction when an arrow reaches the step zone. Hitting the arrow at the right time adds to your dance meter, which is a gauge of your dancing ability and your in-game popularity. Missing or being the tiniest bit off the beat decreases your dance meter, and letting your meter fall too far ends your game.
Sounds pretty easy, right? Well, my young padawan learners, do not find yourself giving into your cockiness, for you will bow down to the complexity of the music in this title. Dance Dance Revolution came to the dance floor with a solid set of 27 songs. The DJs at Konami remixed and re-mastered these tunes as well as adding classics from the non-imported titles. The end result? Konamix blows its predecessor out of the water with almost twice that number in DDR. At least 30 songs are available at the beginning of the game, with the other 20 or so unlocked during play. What about that gameplay? Well, Konamix features a few more modes than DDR, as well as hosting a few updates. Game Mode, the home version of the arcade machine for one or two people, is bolstered with the addition of Solo Mode. Both are similar in styles of play, with two differences. The first variation is that Solo Mode is for one player only. The second is that Game Mode allows a player to roam across two game pads, while Solo Mode confines a player to a singular pad while increasing the arrows in the step zone from four to six.
Fans of DDR will notice that the selection of songs is also completely different in Konamix. Players no longer have access to the full jukebox-like setting with every song. Instead, they will choose from one of eight genres, ranging from Calorie Burner to Downtempo Jamz, to determine the kind of tunes they’ll dance to. Making this selection also decides the character that will be displayed upon the screen when you’re cutting your rug. After choosing the specific song, the difficulty and difficulty modifiers can be adjusted based on your specific experience. If you’ve got crazy legs, you may want to aim for the maniac level, or possibly hide the target arrows from plain sight.
These two modes are not the only two places in the game that allow you to customize your playing experience (aside from the obvious options menu). Both the Training Mode and the Edit Mode allow you to hone your skills at songs, albeit in different manners. The Training Mode provides an opportunity to practice songs that you’ve never danced to before, or improve your performance with ones that have given you trouble. Difficulty with .59 on the Basic setting? Having problems with Drop The Bomb on the Trick level? Issues with Afronova on any difficulty rating? Within the training mode, you can isolate measures of songs, slow down the actual playback speed of a tune, and even get a metronome to count out the timing and rhythm needed for the right steps. Or maybe you fancy yourself a choreographer… Well, Edit Mode allows you the option to create your own dance routines with arrow sequences to the games music. Using the controller, you can place your own steps and jumps within a song and design a routine for yourself and other friends to dance to.
With all of this jumping, dancing and stepping, you’re going to build up quite a sweat. DDR recognized this with their Workout Mode, which provided you with an aerobic workout based on the amount of time you wanted to exercise or the number of calories that you wanted to burn. In Konamix, the Workout Mode has been augmented to allow players a way to count this within their exercise regiments. The revamped mode allows you to input a specific date, which, upon saving, will track and display your caloric progress on a daily basis. With three intensity levels and an option of continuous play for each song, the only limit to the workout are the specific goals you set for each session. When you’ve finished, your results, including how well you did with each song and the number of calories you burned are displayed. Additionally, you can take the information and let Konamix translate your workout into the equivalent of the number of times you would have jumped rope or the distance in kilometers you would have run or swam.
Graphically, you’re not really going to see that much. DDR has been known for its cartoonish style, with large, expressive characters with their own unique style. For example, there are robots, punk kids and a disco dancer from the ‘70s with a giant Afro who dance in the background as the arrows roll by on the screen. Konamix is no exception, with many of the characters from DDR and the other non-imported DDR games strutting their stuff across the screen. The rest of the backgrounds are very splashy, club-influenced montages of images, light bursts and effects. You’re not really going to pay too much attention to the backgrounds, however, because much of your attention will be focused on hitting the arrows at the right time. There are a few times when you may lose some arrows because of the bright colors of some of the backgrounds, but you can disable this by turning off the backgrounds in the options menu. Aurally, Konamix truly delivers. Like I said earlier, a lot of the songs have been imported from DDR or other games in the series. Outside of the import scene, most of these songs have not been heard outside of a hardcore DDR fan’s home, which is a real shame, because a lot of them are true gems of music. You’ll be hard pressed to not have one or more rolling around in your head hours or days after you’ve played. As I speak, I’ve got Dub-I-Dub fighting for space with La Senorita Virtual. Thankfully, Konami included some bios of the composers, and I know that I’m going to spend some time trying to track down some of their work.
As a DDR fan, I found myself liking Konamix quite a bit. The tweaks to the gameplay caught my eye, and I really like some of the new additions, like the ability to track my workout progress. Hardcore DDR fans, especially those who have modded their PlayStations to allow for imports, might not be too impressed with the fact that a lot of the music in Konamix comes from previous versions. Additionally, Solo Mode won’t capture too much of their attention, considering that Game Mode provides the option of up to eight arrows across two pads, while Solo Mode only adds two diagonal arrows. Since the harder option has been present in previous titles, the diagonal section may provide a warm-up for the seasoned player as opposed to a challenge. But, for those aficionados of rhythm titles, those looking for a good gaming experience with an elevated heartbeat, or those people who’ve just gotta dance, Konamix should answer that footloose jones nicely.