DDRMax2: Dance Dance Revolution

We are closet dancers. You know it, I know it, everyone knows it. Somewhere in our lives we have danced in private: be it in front of our mirrors, while doing chores around the house, while cooking dinner and listening to the stereo, you name it. You’ve undoubtedly shaken your ass to a favorite song while no one was looking. And maybe, just maybe, at some point in your life you’ve actually cut the rug on a real dance floor at a club or party playing that same favorite song.

Knowing this, the folks over in Japan at Konami decided to capitalize on the knowledge and develop a series of games that came to be known as Dance Dance Revolution that forced the closeted dancers out into the arcades. After all, what could be more fun than proving you have two left feet, or are the secret king or queen of the dance floor by performing your moves in public on a specially designed video game? Indeed, it was quite fun and soon the people in the US wanted to dance, too. Suddenly, DDR was all the rage.

The songs from the games became hits to the fans. If you say the titles “Butterfly” or “Cutie Chaser” to a DDR freak, you’ll see their eyes light up instantly. Indeed, the whole franchise has become somewhat of a hit factory in itself. DDR songs appear in countless numbers during searches on Kazaa and other P2P networks. It’s all about the beat, baby. It’s also about that uncanny knack the Japanese have for taking things distinctly American and reinventing the wheel, selling it back to the world and turning it distinctly Japanese in the end.

What DDRMax2 offers to the history of the world’s greatest dancing game isn’t anything terribly new. What is sold, however, is another mainline to feed the dance addiction. Oh, and a few slightly more American and European hits to the mix, making this title a little more mainstream. But then, working out to Kylie Minogue’s “Love At First Sight” or shaking your booty to KC & The Sunshine Band’s “Get Down Tonight” really brings it home in that true American disco fashion that perhaps earlier titles in the series missed.

Indeed, there’s a certain perverse thrill to finally bust a move all over “In The Navy” cranked up to a ridiculous level that really hits home if you weren’t there the first time around in the ’70s. But this is what DDR has always excelled at. Collecting the styles and sounds and spirit of the dance floor from times past and present, and remixing them into a cultural explosion that seeks a new kind of unity in the arcades and at home that perhaps didn’t exist before.

And even if you do have two left feet, being able to bop around on a dance pad at home in privacy is a hell of a lot of fun. That DDR offers a person such a complete way to break out and liberate himself in music and movement is also testament to the series’ success. One literally can get lost in the sounds and syncopations and truly feel alive in ways perhaps never before realized. And they say video games are bad for the brain. For shame.

So in DDRMax2, the old familiars of workout mode, and solo and dual competition modes return once again. It is to Konami’s credit that the home versions of DDR turned the game into one of the best exercise routines every conjured. Setting a calorie goal and watching them spin away as you actually have a great time is genius. And for those who really want to burn it off, there’s a new nonstop mode that allows the players to pick a string of songs with no breaks in between. For the hardcore only, to be sure.

Also included this time around are actual music videos for some of the songs. That means you’ll be seeing Kylie get down with you, as well as that strange guy in the Dirty Vegas clip for “Without You” cut his rug. It’s a nice new addition to the game that provides visual breaks from the usual (and sometimes re-used) rotating and scrolling backgrounds that have become a staple with the DDR franchise.

So keep on dancing. Be it at the arcades or at home, DDR has liberated millions from the closet onto the dance floors worldwide. Not a bad thing, to say the least. Everyone from the pacifier sucking ravers to the old disco kings to the girl who lives next door have been moving and shaking it to Konami’s musical trend. That trend can only continue to evolve, or completely change. And in fact, it has done the latter recently. Just when you thought it was safe to only sing in the shower, Konami has brought the masses Karaoke Revolution. But that’s another tale in another review.


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