~ Silvercube's family-friendly blog on random entertainment and life.

Video Game Review: DDR Universe

Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) came into my life, when a friend of mine- Jessica(Gamertag-Anubiac), introduced me to DDR. She told me about DDR Ultramix 2 for the original Xbox, and it seemed really cool. In August 2005, I purchased DDR Ultramix 2, and it became one of my favorite games of all time. Its future sequels, DDR Ultramix 3 and 4, along with Universe, still did not match DDR Ultramix 2’s song list and online options. (DDR Ultramix 2 was the only DDR game thus far on Xbox consoles to have a tournament mode)

There are times when I am spacing out and I picture DDR arrows in my mind… just dancing to a beat. There are times I hear an awesome techno song and imagine what the arrows would be like for that song.

Yesterday, a game that I have been waiting for a very long time was released for Xbox 360. DDR Universe 2. I was afraid that it would not be very good, as the number “2” is very sacred to me. I had very high expectations for this game…

When I came home with DDR Universe 2 in my hands, I had no idea I would be playing the game for 11 hours straight, but I did. The game is phenomenal. Anyways, I thought before I were to write a review for this game, that I should take another look at a review I wrote for DDR Universe. At the end of my review I will give my final thoughts on DDR Universe.

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Platform: Xbox360

Publisher: Konami

Developer: Konami

Category: Music/Rhythm, Party

Players: 1-4

Online: Yes

MSRP: $79.99 ,$49.99(without dance pad)

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Once upon a time, there was this game called Dance Dance Revolution. It became an overnight phenomenon in arcades which consisted of one’s feet stepping on arrows to the beat of the music.

Konami, the publisher of this game, thought why not transfer the arcade experience to your living room?

So thus began the transition. Beginning with the Playstation in the late 90’s, Konami began churning out sequel after sequel, adding new songs, new game modes, and later on the wonderful “freeze arrows”, which is where one steps on the desired arrows and holds their feet in the same spot until the “freeze” passes.

By the time DDR hit the Xbox, there was a huge fanbase, enough to warrant sales on a console system when back in the day the music rhytm genre was just a faint blimp in the video game industry.

Konami released DDR Ultramix, and the game received lukewarm reception. Many consumers who had xbox live at the time were upset with the lack of online options, and how the matchmaking system worked (one would have to start a new room each time one completed a song).

In response to these critical remarks, Konami released DDR Ultramix 2 soon afterwards, which perhaps was the best DDR game to ever hit the Xbox consoles, even until this day.

DDR U2 had one of the best song tracks ever, and most importantly, was a true xbox live game. Konami added Tournament mode to its online options, which allowed up to 16 people to compete against one another. Also, rooms could be created, and one would not have to start a new room after a song had been completed, which made the interface much simpler, and online-friendly. In addition, Konami allowed players to create their own dance steps and upload them online to share with others. They also released many downloadable song packs, which added more replayability.

When DDR Ultramix 3 and 4 was released, Konami added a new “Quest mode” which enabled one to embark on a quasi-adventure to compete with other dancers, while unlocking new songs. These quest modes sparked much anger amongst DDR Beginners, who could not pass this mode unless one would play on a harder difficulty level- which led many to begin using the controller.

The online options increased, with a much better matchmaking system, and even a chat room. However, Konami took out Tournament mode, which till this day has not yet been seen since DDR U2. For those that had purchased all 16 song packs, one could have over 150 songs per DDR game.

When DDR Universe was announced for Xbox360, many people had high expectations for this game, hoping that the downloadable song packs would be compatible with the 360, and that there would be awesome online options.

When the game was released 1st quarter 2007, I eagerly went down to Gamestop to pick up my pre-ordered copy. I popped the game into my 360 and set up the dance pad as well. I went into quest mode and was shocked that this mode was the same exact structure as it was in DDR U3! The only thing that changed was that the graphics were a bit better.

I then went through the song list, and was disappointed with the selection. Gone were the many amazing techno songs, and instead more current songs, trying to cater to everyone. I don’t know about you, but I really do not want to dance to any rap songs, much less anything with the artist “Jamiroqaui”.

To top it all off, all of my 15 downloadable song packs were not compatible with the 360, which further aggrivated me.

I then went online to see what xbox live options there were, perhaps hoping they had improved on the previous Ultramixes. What I saw what was available, I was stunned. The only options were to create or search for a ranked game, or create or search custom games, which were not ranked. These options brought back immediate recollections to the first DDR Ultramix, which had the same exact system. So DDR Universe, instead of advancing in the online options, regressed back to where they had started from. There was no options to even upload your own dance steps. However, Konami did release 10 songs to download, although 6 of these songs I had already purchased or played before in previous DDR iterations.

So, after I got over my reaction, I created a custom game. I then went through the song list and noticed that I could not play every song with other people online! There was a glitch, which still to this day has not been fixed. Furthermore, sometimes the screen would freeze, and one would have to restart their 360 over again. At least one could continue playing after a song was completed, provided that the other players did not lag out.

To those new to DDR, they will certainly enjoy this game, but to the DDR fanatics like myself, we all know we were let down. Hopefully DDR Universe 2 will fix these issues.

Presentation: Anime style interface with HD- support. The most graphically advanced DDR game yet, but there is still room for improvement. [7.5/10]

Gameplay: With many modes included, such as Workout (the ability to track how much calories you burned) Power, (5 to 6 minute remixed songs, which are fun to play) Bomb, (A frantic multiplayer mode in which one must make sure they hit the arrows and get combos so the bomb does not explode on them), and other modes as well- there is certainly a variety of gameplay options that will keep one coming back for more. However Quest mode can get on your nerves, due to a variety of unfair rules implemented. [8.5/10]

Graphics/Sound: With HD support, and advanced animations, this game certainly does look better, but there is definitely room for improvement- especially in quest mode, which sports the same graphic style as DDR U3. The sound is either really good or bad, with some awesome songs found amongst some painful songs. Perhaps one of the worst song tracks in DDR history. The dancers voices should be turned off, as they can become quite annoying. [7.5/10]

Replay Factor: With plenty of different modes to play (even though most can only be played offline), and the variety of songs, this game will definitely be played over and over again until the sequel is released. [9/10]

Bottom Line: To those new to DDR, they will certainly enjoy it, as it has a Beginner’s mode to train newcomers. In that case, it would deserve a much higher review. However to DDR Fanatics, the online options will certainly disappoint, and will be upset that previous song packs they purchased will not be compatible with this game. One should definitely rent this game, and then purchase it if they can see themselves enjoying this genre for months and years to come.

+70 songs, many different game modes

– Most of the songs are not new to DDR fans, online options sparse

Overall Score:

[7.5/10]

* * * * * *

When looking back on this review, I agree with what I wrote. I was very disappointed with DDR Universe in a few ways.

Thank you for reading. ^_^

What are your thoughts on DDR? Did you play DDR Universe? Did it meet your expectations?

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