Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2 Review

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Graphics: 8.0
Sound : 8.5
Gameplay : 8.5
Multiplayer : 8.0
Overall : 8.3
Review by Andy Levine
The Dance Dance Revolution phenomenon has swept across the world, making it hard to find an arcade without at least one machine available. In October of 2002, Konami decided to make DDR available to home PS2 gamers with the release of DDRMAX. Since then, a selection of DDR games have appeared on the PS2 and Xbox, each of which brought updated soundtracks and new game modes. Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2 is the latest PS2 series edition, offering more than 70 new songs, a slew of fresh gameplay modes, and even online support. DDR Extreme 2 is definitely a worthy title for any dancing fanatic, and it also has the potential to attract new gamers to this innovative genre.

The main game mode is called Dance Master Mode, which is where you need to complete certain objectives in order to unlock new songs, dance courses, and other missions. The Dance Master Mode uses a branch system in order to slowly introduce the mechanics to beginners while still allowing some of the more experienced dancers to head towards the latter part of the game. Each mission has a generic objective, such as requiring you to obtain a certain number of perfect ratings, have a combo last for a set amount of moves, or even to simply finish the song without your life meter fully draining. Like at the arcades, your life meter depletes if you don’t get a perfect or great rating when you step, so you should keep up with the beat if you plan on surviving. While this mode is where everything in the game becomes unlocked, you also have the option to dance around in the Free Play or Advanced modes. Free Play simply allows you to select any of your unlocked songs on the difficulty of your choosing. Once the song is over, you can select another song immediately (unlike in previous DDR installments where the game would reset after every 3 rounds). The Advanced mode is similar to the Nonstop, or ‘Oni’, challenges in which you continually dance through song after song until you miss a certain number of steps. This mode can be extremely taxing—especially if you’re skilled enough to last for over twenty minutes. The new Workout mode saves a record onto the memory card of how many calories you burn by calculating information about your height and weight and applying it to the songs you select. While it would’ve been nice if it could keep track of this information in other modes, if you’re going to play DDR solely for weight loss purposes, then the Workout mode will certainly help you a lot. Lastly, the Training mode allows you to play your favorite songs slowly so that you can develop a working routine, while the Lesson mode introduces the basics of dancing to beginners. In short, there are a plethora of game modes available in Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2 that will keep you busy for hours on end.

As with any other DDR title, DDR Extreme 2 has the 3 basic dance types available. The first type is the most traditional, in which one single pad is used by one person. The second dance type involves one person dancing across two separate mats—of course this mode requires you to cover a wider area. Lastly, and like its predecessor, DDR Extreme 2 has support for Sony’s EyeToy, which means you need hand motions in addition to moving your feet (and also you can watch yourself dance on TV). Two-player dancing can be selected in the Free Play mode as well, and it’s entertaining to see your friends flailing their arms and legs in an attempt to keep up with the prompting arrows. Beginner, Light, Standard, Heavy, and Challenge difficulties are available for most of the songs, so if you have trouble performing sixteenth notes with your feet you can always choose an easier setting to ‘tone’ things down a notch. In terms of the actual dancing, there’s nothing on show that’s too revolutionary, but you can still expect the same enjoyable arcade dance experience via your PS2.

The best selling point for DDR Extreme 2 is clearly the addition of online support. Now dancers can compete in head-to-head battles through a lobby or an advanced ranking system. The game keeps track of how long you’ve played and your online record, including interesting tidbits such as your winning or losing streak. Whether you decide to individually search for a challenger, or you let the ranking system choose for you, the online dance-offs are still played out in the same manner. Once a song is selected, both players choose which difficulty they want to play on. Playing on a harder difficulty means more arrows in your dance routine (which allows you to amass a higher score), but there’ll also be a greater chance of failure. Although the online mode doesn’t carry the same intensity as you would perhaps experience while dancing against someone right beside you, it’s still a great addition to the DDR franchise.

The visual presentation on offer in DDR Extreme 2 is nothing spectacular, but the effectively designed menus and interesting backgrounds help recreate the popular arcade feel. One of the greatest aspects in DDR is that you can turn the game on and immediately begin dancing—and the interface makes this even easier. On the song selection menu, the popular method of using the left and right arrows to scroll through songs while using the up and down arrows to adjust difficulty is used, and the whole selection process feels natural. While Konami hasn’t made any major changes to the appearance of the arrows, the background visuals are sharper than ever. Not only can you select a character that will dance to the beat, but the obscure background animations and hundreds of vibrant colors also help deliver that lovable arcade atmosphere. In addition, some of the included licensed songs play their actual coincidental music video, which offers a nice break from the occasionally seizure-inducing animations. Overall, DDR isn’t a game to play for its visuals, but it’s not a bad-looking game considering its main focus is solely on gameplay.

The sound immensely affects how you dance because you’re supposed to move your feet to the beat. There are different styles of routine to be encountered, often depending on which song you choose. Float songs have you hold down freeze arrows a lot, and you’ll need a keen eye in order to succeed here. Songs with a high voltage rating are very upbeat, and songs with a focus on air will see you frequently planting your feet on two arrows. Whether you prefer dancing to slower love songs, or intense trance mixes, each song caters specifically to a certain dance style. With over 70 licensed songs from a variety of artists, you’ll surely be able to find a bunch of songs that will easily make it to your favorites list. By including some of the older popular songs such as “Boom Boom Dollar” and “Brilliant 2U” along with some slightly out-of-date pop songs like “Get Busy” by Sean Paul, DDR Extreme 2 always delivers a satisfactory audio performance.

Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2 is a great title for both DDR veterans and those gamers interested in trying out something new. With the addition of the online mode, along with support for Sony’s EyeToy, DDR Extreme 2 delivers a fun and involving dance experience that won’t cost a bundle in quarters. Although the actual gameplay doesn’t vary all that much from previous installments, and it can take a while to unlock all the songs, Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2 delivers an incredibly entertaining party experience that is definitely worth trying out.