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DDRMAX: Dance Dance Revolution 6th Mix
Playstation 2
Intercord Japan
The evolution of DDR has led to a game that really shows off what the series is made of.
Overall Rating:

Animefringe Reviews:
DDRMAX: Dance Dance Revolution 6th Mix
By Adam Arnold

It can be said that the whole world should know what Dance Dance Revolution, aka DDR, is by now. With seven core mixes, a number of add-ons, and stand-alone arcade machines in virtually every corner of the world and an assortment of home versions, it is safe to say that DDR is by far one of the most addictive rhythm games ever created.

For those readers out there who haven't at least gotten a taste of what DDR is all about, the gameplay can be described in terms of the controller used. The player literally uses their feet to dance on a soft pad or hard platform, hitting four directional arrows (up, down, left, right) in the right order and with the rhythm of the song. True, a normal video game controller can be used, but DDR isn't a game for people who don't like to move around -- getting into the groove and learning the moves is half the fun of the game. In fact, the home versions are designed for people to practice so they can head to an arcade to really show what they're made of.

Getting started with DDR isn't that hard. In fact, all that is needed is some patience and a willingness to learn, because it's a game that will make even the most slightly out-of-shape player hurt for days -- and keep coming back for more. With all the basic explanation out of the way, it's time to move onto the latest home version–DDR MAX: Dance Dance Revolution 6th Mix.

Graphically, DDRMAX has some real style to it. Sure, DDR games aren't really known to be too graphically-intense, since they player doesn't ever really pay attention to the backgrounds. This game retains the same layered scrolling arrows that the 5th Mix engine used, which means that the arrows in the games prior to that point had arrows that seemed to blend into the backgrounds and sometimes caused a bit of slowdown if too much was on the screen.

Gone from this game is the ability to pick a dancer. Instead, the trademark DDR characters are now used in the menus, section logos, and in the movies that play during the songs. The game has the ability to play a number of pre-rendered movies for the song backgrounds. Some of these get really annoying when the same characters or images keep flashing on the screen whenever a certain lyric or melody is reached. A big instance of this is in songs like ‘I'm in the Mood for Dancing' and ‘Nori Nori Nori.' Ironically though, there's literally a behind-the-scenes video of Kosaka Riyu that plays during both versions of ‘true...' that just left me with the feeling that Konami could have put together some more videos like this of the artist in stead of throwing in images of boxes and rockets.

Graphics aside, DDRMAX features quite possibly the best thing to happen to the series since the addition of variable bpm songs and freeze arrows (the long arrow that forces the player to hold a certain step for a few beats). They have become widely known as charged arrows and really make the game challenging in the Standard and Hard modes, DDRMAX's equivalent of Trick and Maniac. These harder modes force the player to rethink how they play the game. In one case the left foot must be held on the left arrow while the right foot has to perform a number of arrow presses before the left foot can even be let up. It's weird to get used to, but after a few songs, it feels like second nature.

Still, DDRMAX wouldn't be a good DDR game without some killer tunes -- and boy, does it deliver. Though there isn't a song to play, songs like Be For U's ‘Firefly,' Joga's ‘Bye Bye Baby Balloon,' and Flashman's ‘Flash in the Night' more than make up for the absence of one of DDR's favorite groups. There are even some weird songs like Bambee's ‘Cowgirl' and Jenny Rom's ‘www.Blonde Girl (Momo Mix)' that are weird to listen to by themselves, but are fun to dance to.

The one song I was the most disappointed with was RevenG's ‘exotic ethnic' which seems to be an East Indian version of Afronova. The song is just too easy to dance too in Light mode (Basic) when compared to 2MB's awesome ‘Healing Vision ~Angelic mix~.' Still, if a challenge is required, then look no further than Omega's ‘Max 300' or Luv UNLIMITED's ‘Candy.'

Secret-wise, the game is fairly limited with only a handful of unlockable songs, tough the game does require you to unlock them in a unique way. The player can just simply play through 200 songs to unlock virtually everything, play a certain set of songs and get a certain score to unlock songs, or even try their luck with the roulette wheel. In any case, the game has enough secrets to keep even master players in the groove for a while.

There is even a cool option where the arrow speed, rotation, and such can be adjusted on the fly. Let's just say that playing a song with the arrows mirrored and zooming by at 8 speed is one heck of a workout. There is nothing like seeing an arrow for a split second and having your legs just seem to be stuck in place, unable to process where they were supposed to go. And yes, the great arrow editing mode is included so the player can design their own torture routines and then try them out to burn some calories in the great workout mode.

Now for the moment of truth. Is DDRMAX worth importing? If you've got a modified PS2 or a Japanese PS2, then the answer should be... why haven't you yet? This game stacks up very nicely with all the previous Japanese DDRs and will keep any fan playing for a long time. Still, with the announcement of the USA version of DDRMAX, it makes me wonder how much of the song selection will survive the transition. The last USA DDR, Konamix was a nice best of collection, but still paled in comparison to the Japanese games that had those songs. If money isn't an issue, this baby is definitely one to import.

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