Release Date: November 18, 2004
Buy 'DANCE DANCE REVOLUTION ULTRAMIX 2': Xbox
Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) is not just a game series; it is a change in the paradigm of the gestalt of the gaming industry, changing the perception of gamers by the rest of the world. It has its history in the Nintendo Power Pad and such games as World Class and Dance Aerobics. The DDR Ultramix series is the Xbox version of this wildly popular game, Ultramix 2 being the latest in the series.
The concept of DDR is really simple. The player steps on a floor pad button or buttons at the correct moment to correspond with the symbols showing up on the screen. Timing is everything, since the player is graded by accuracy. The dance meter shows how well the player is doing, as does the score. Yet, the dance meter is the most important because if it runs out, the player has failed the song and it ends.
There are four difficulty levels: beginner, light, regular, and heavy. This had been expanded compared to the original Ultramix with the addition of the beginner mode. The original light mode is somewhere between the difficulty of the beginner and light modes in Ultramix 2. The new beginner mode has the addition of a dancer showing where to step on the dance pad.
Each song is rated by the foot difficulty and groove scales. The foot difficulty is self-explanatory, more feet means a more difficult song. The groove scale is more detail about the difficulty of a song, by using five measures: stream, chaos, freeze, air, and voltage. Stream measures the average density of the steps, chaos shows the irregularity and complexity of the patterns, and freeze is the number of freeze steps, steps, which the player must hold. Additionally, air refers to the number of jumps in a song, while voltage is a measure of the maximum density of the steps. If the stream and the voltage match, then the song does not let up.
Ultramix 2 can be controlled by either a dance pad or a controller, depending on what the player chooses. Using a controller does defeat the purpose of the game, so a dance pad or two is recommended. At least two controllers will allow players to go through the double mode, where one player uses two pads. Up to four controllers can be used for up to four players, which can make for an interesting time with friends. There is a learning curve for most players in this title, due to the complexity of timing steps on certain parts of the dance pad.
There are seven modes to this title: game, battle, party, workout, challenge, training, and edit. Each of these modes is a variation of the basic concept, adding to the replayability of the title and the interest of the players.
Game mode will be the most familiar with players who have experienced the arcade version. The players select the choice of either single or double mode, which switches between one player using one or two controllers. The players take on one song at a time and choose each song or can have it randomly selected.
Battle mode is a challenge mode for up to four players against each other using either grade or point scoring. Grade scoring compares how well the players danced, where knowing the step sequence and timing is important. Point scoring goes off of the individual points for each step succeeded, which harder difficulty levels are rewarded. Battle mode has the same feel as the game mode, so I preferred the game mode.
Party mode is a strange compilation of four sub-modes: attack, bomb, quad, and sync. Attack mode is like battle mode, except certain steps attacks or defends against the other player. Bomb is a variation of hot potato for up to 4 players, where a certain step combination moves the bomb to the next player. Quad is like the double version of game mode, but with four pads. Sync, the hardest of the four sub-modes, requires up to 4 players to stay in sync with each other.
Workout mode is a non-graded version of the single player mode, meaning the player will not fail. The player enters their weight and then has the calories and simulated miles tracked. Since all of the really diehard fans I know are in great shape, the workout mode is a good idea for this type of game.
Challenge mode allows for a player to complete a list of songs in order. There are 5 difficulty levels with six challenges each, which make for an extreme amount of playability. It is a significant difficulty, since the game does not allow for any significant mistake. The most common scenario is progressing through only a portion of the song. Beating the Extra difficulty is proof that player has mastered the game.
Training mode is a very nice mode for us poor folks who do not have the amazing skills that some players have. It allows a player to practice a song at different speeds, with hand claps, or any number of other aides to help learn a song.
Edit mode allows a player to create a custom dance routine for one of the songs that comes with the title. These custom routines can be moved from one Xbox to another using Memory Units, those little black pieces of plastic that seemed to have very limited use.
Ultramix 2 implements Xbox Live for content downloads and multiplayer. Multiplayer has two major options, the standard match and tournament. The tournament mode allows up to 16 players to test their skills against each other in a pyramid type tournament scheme, where 2 people play against each other, with the winner progressing on. The four games that can be played score battle, point battle, attack, and bomb, just like the normal game modes.
The replayability of Ultramix 2 is immense, with content downloads and Xbox Live player. The many game modes will allow for hours upon hours of play.
Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix 2 is a wonderful follow-on to the premier release of the DDR series for the Xbox. It implements its concept wonderfully, with a streamlined interface and some great additions to the original Ultramix. I would recommend this title for anyone who would like to either have a good workout while having some fun or really enjoy the DDR franchise. I would not recommend this title to people with health problems that could preclude aerobic workouts, since this title can work the heart really well.