Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix 3 Review

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Graphics: 7.0
Sound : 6.5
Gameplay : 7.0
Multiplayer : 7.5
Overall : 7.1
Review by Andy Levine
Dance Dance Revolution has been around for quite some time now, both at the arcades and on home consoles. Even though you might expect a simple game like this to get boring quickly, this series has aged well and can deliver an enjoyable experience to amateur and professional dancers alike. Unlike the arcade versions, Ultramix 3 includes a handful of alternative gameplay modes along with an atypical song list to create a seemingly fresh experience. Although a few gameplay quirks make this title worse than the Extreme series on PS2, DDR Ultramix 3 proves to be a good addition to the illustrious series.

In case you aren’t familiar, Dance Dance Revolution is a rhythm game where you must step on arrows in conjunction with the step chart on the screen. Ratings will be given from ‘perfect’ to ‘boo’ depending on how close you are to the beat, and in the end you’ll be given a rank from ‘AAA’ to ‘E’ based upon your overall performance. Even though you could use a controller, to get the full dancing effect a dance mat is required. A soft pad for Xbox can cost somewhere around $20, but the hardcore players should consider buying a metal pad so they won’t have to worry about sensitivity issues or sliding across the floor. An Afterburner metal dance pad from RedOctane will cost $200 plus shipping, while the BlueShark from MyMyBox with a bar costs a steep $400 plus shipping. For the most part, as long as you aren’t using a controller you can really get a kick out of this dancing phenomenon.

Aside from the regular dancing mode, Ultramix 3 includes a few original modes as well to add a nice change of pace. The most interesting of the bunch is the Quad mode, which allows one person to use 4 dance mats at the same time. If you’re willing to invest in four pads (and if you have the space in your room) then you would certainly be in for a treat here. The party mode is great if you’re playing with a few friends, even though it is possible to play against CPU opponents. In the attack mode, players will send viruses over to their opponents that will modify the appearance of the step chart, making it difficult for the victim to see what steps they need to take.

Bomb mode requires a player to complete a combo before they pass the bomb, and if they fail to achieve this combo they lose. Sync mode is similar to bomb mode because a player will lose once they break their combo, but turns aren’t taken here. If you just want to have a dance-off without the frills, head-to-head matches can be selected for straight up dancing.

A challenge mode (not like challenging mode in other installments) offers the player a certain objective to achieve while playing a section of a song, such as achieving all perfects or making not sure to have a combo over 10. The newly introduced freestyle mode is pretty much pointless. Dancers are supposed to dance freely as the song plays, and in order to win all you really need to do is run back and forth while trying to stay somewhat close to the beat. While the idea was certainly creative, a more accurate scoring system would be nice. All of these modes slightly enhance the original DDR gameplay to keep things interesting, but you’re still getting the same essential experience at heart.

The quest mode allows the gamer to enter the shoes of an aspiring DDR champion on a world tour. Your goal is to travel across the lands and picking up a strong fan base. In order to gain fans at a certain city, a specific number of points must be earned. Some of the beginning cities, such as the ones located in Canada, require about 15,000 points to acquire fans. The bad part about this mode is that you can only earn a few hundred points per song, so advancing can become quite tedious. More points can be earned for higher difficulty songs, which will encourage players to only choose a select few songs. This mode doesn’t serve too much of a purpose, but it can help you unlock songs so it’s worth trying out.

The interface in Ultramix 3 is nothing to marvel over because of its bland style and hard to read fonts. Unfortunately, Konami didn’t include the song wheel for selecting songs like at the arcade; instead the selection is more box-like. A bunch of licensed songs like Rock Lobster by the B52’s and Where’s Your Head At by Basement Jaxx allowed for actual music videos to replace old background animations. Sadly, the frame rate is consistently under 60FPS and can even get buggy at times, making it harder to accurately read the step charts. In addition, some of the steps have been proven to be out of sync with the beat, and although fixes are available it’s still one more problem to have to deal with.

The original song list is much different from other versions of DDR because Konami tried to reach out to a broader audience. As a result, artists such as Ray Charles, NOFX and They Might Be Giants. The inclusion of such licensed songs will appeal to gamers generally looking for a good listening experience, but those who’re looking to bring the arcade experience will find that Ultramix 3 falls short. Oni steps have been included in songs like Sakura and Daikenaki for an added challenge, and a few other titles like Guidecca offer an astounding challenge. Aside from a few specific titles, a lot of the tracks here won’t be found on any arcade. As a result, some of the more devoted DDR players won’t be able to practice for the big times in this version, but there are enough good songs to introduce unfamiliar gamers.

Although Xbox Live is officially supported in Ultramix 3, getting into a game with someone else is very unlikely. Unless you call up a friend and tell them to get on, chances are you won’t be able to find a match. The online community is devoid of players because there isn’t too much of an incentive to play against someone far away. If you’re looking for some good multiplayer action, it’s a much better idea to have someone physically play with you instead. The only nice feature about Xbox Live is the ability to download songs packs. Even though they do cost money, there’s nothing more satisfying than finding out that your favorite track just made it into the latest release. Downloaded songs take a noticeably longer time to load than tracks straight off the disc, but this isn’t a major issue. Even though some might think that paying a few dollars for only a few songs is a bit of a rip-off, it’s still nice to see that Konami will constantly be supporting this title.

In conclusion, Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix 3 is a satisfactory dancing game. Although the frame rate and sync bugs can be bothersome, as a whole this game isn’t all that bad. Considering the fact that Xbox owners don’t really have any other choice, DDR Ultramix 3 is a decent step up from its predecessors and does a good job at creating an enjoyable party experience.