Dance Dance Revolution II Review
Widely known as the game to popularize moving your feet to the beat, DDR was a hit in arcades and eventually made its way to players homes on a plethora of systems. Though it was definitely the King of dancing games for quite some time, new developments in technology (such as motion controls and things like Kinect) have forced the dance genre to evolve past stepping on four arrow buttons. This is why I was confused when booting up Dance Dance Revolution II on the Wii, since it seemed like instead of the series taking a step forward, it took a few steps back.
The thing is, I love DDR. Through my school years, you would constantly find me at the local arcade showing off my moves that I mastered while constantly playing at home. It wasn't just a game for me, it was almost an addiction. Needless to say, I was a dancing fiend. Why Konami would rather hark back to the early days of DDR with this iteration is beyond me. What's more is that this is called DDR II. Why DDR II?! There has already been a DDR X, so am I really to believe that Konami's latest dancing game is eight games behind the one that came out in 2008, on the PlayStation 2 no less? Good grief. Konami took the next evolutionary step in dancing games with Dance Masters on the Xbox 360's Kinect, so why not try something new on the Wii?
Your Mii, or his head rather, can get in on the action as well
If anything's apparent, it's that DDR II, even more than its predecessors, is trying to appeal to the Western market, but even more specifically, to the tween crowd with its selection of music. It includes B.O.B, Nelly, Selena Gomez, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, Willow and not one, but two Justin Bieber songs. It's not until later that you unlock the more J-Pop-y/Techno, with fan favorites like Naoki, that the DDR series is mostly known for. Each song can also be played in either Short or Long mode, which takes songs and either cuts them down to a minute and a half, or has them play their regular run times, respectively.
Once you get going, DDR II can be a fun time. As you dance, you're presented with certain Challenge Tasks that task you to clear on a certain difficulty, achieving a certain MAX Combo, or attaining a set amount of DDR points (the game's currency that unlocks various songs and challenges). Provided you have more than one dancing mat, you and a buddy can either go head to head or try out Friendship Mode, where you share a score, taking into account only the player who nails the steps better than the other one. This mode is perfect for those who are intimidated by DDR, and lets them practice with a player who is more familiar with the game. For DDR veterans, there is the coveted Double Mode, which lets you really tear up the dance floor dancing on two mats side by side.
The mat itself hasn't quite changed from its early years. It does have an anti-slip surface on the bottom which means even the most hardcore of steps won't move the mat below you, but overall, if you've seen any of the previous DDR mats that came bundled with the game, there won't be any surprises for you in store.
As a standard feature to the series, the Workout Mode has you setting your calorie goal and then going through songs and watch as the game "calculates" the amount of calories you burn. The game achieves this by creating a personalized profile for you with your height and weight. For the newcomers to the series (though you must be pretty young if this is your first time playing this series), the DDR School takes you through simple steps through six basic lessons. Why these lessons were included as part of the tracklist during the normal game is beyond me. Lastly, the Training Mode lets you pick a song and master it without the fear of losing.
It seems like Konami doesn't quite know its target audience anymore. The DDR games of old were always more for the hardcore, while easing in newcomers with its Beginner difficulty settings. Now it seems like its primary target are not only younger players, but girls as well. There is a reason why the Just Dance series fares so well on the Wii, and that's because it's not only accessible to pretty much everyone, it caters to almost anyone's musical taste.
Dance Dance Revolution II is as bare bones as it can get without any big extras. There is no Wii remote support, so don't expect to be using your arms and hands in this game. If you're jonesing for a four-arrow dancing game for the Wii, however, DDR II will provide you that fix. Just know that there are dancing games that by now do it slightly better.