Before Dance Dance Revolution there was Beatmania, the game that started the entire rhythm and music game craze. Beatmania claims to be a DJ simulator, but essentially the game is a reflex based hit the button at the right time game. Something to note is that this game, like Dance Dance Revolution, pretty much requires the specialized controller to be fun. The DJ controller for the II DX series has a turntable and seven buttons on it (or you could use the old school five key controller for the game). Without the DJ controller, you’re left mashing buttons on the PS2 controller, which is not really fun.
The game consists of hitting the right key at the right time. On the bottom of the screen is a copy of your controller even with the turntable drawn in. Notes fall from the top of the screen to the bottom of the screen and when they reach the bottom you hit the appropriate key. When you press a key, either correctly or incorrectly, the game makes a sound. Hitting the keys in the right order completes the song. It sounds really simple, but even people with a lot of dexterity will find themselves challenged by this game. You don’t just have to have fast fingers, but you need to be on beat. One of the really cool features about the game is that if you’re really good and I mean extraordinarily good you can remix an entire song. There’s a lot of room for creativity in the game.
You can play with either the five key Beatmania controller or the seven key Beatmania II DX controller. Just be aware that some songs can’t be played with the five key controller. You can even play with a second player, which is great for people that are starting the game. When you play with a second player the notes are shared with them, which makes the seemingly impossible songs possible. The game has a variety of modes that you can play in. There’s arcade mode, which is the same as Beatmania in the arcade. You complete three songs and you get a DJ level. Playing songs in arcade mode allows them to be played in free mode, where you can play any song that you’ve played before. There’s the challenging drill mode, which is a challenging series of measures that you must complete. However, all of these modes still require you to do the same thing play the DJ device.
What’s a music game without a good music selection? Dance Dance Revolution fans will see many of their favorite songs on this list, as a lot of the DDR music is drawn from the Beatmania series. Some notable songs are: B4U, Paranoia Max, 20 November, I Was The One and Frozen Ray from DDR Extreme. There are also some licensed songs in the game like Vincent De Moor’s Fly Away and the popular dance track Night of Fire. While there is a lot of songs to choose from, the music leans strongly to the electronic / eurobeat style of music and drops some of the diversity from the other Beatmania II DX games. Another thing to note is that this Beatmania game has a lower amount of licensed tracks compared to other Beatmania games.
If there is one lacking aspect in this game it would be the visuals. Unlike DDR, Beatmania doesn’t really have cool dancers or interesting club videos. Most of the videos look like random music video clips. There’s one animation of people spinning around in a circle and one features a giant robot. Animations are shown in ordered clips, but are a rather dull sight to see. Also unlike DDR people watching the game aren’t watching the players (i.e there’s no one dancing or moving around) so having some decent visuals to entertain others would be a plus. While the visuals are bland, the interface is quite nice. The game has a techno jukebox feel to it that uses the “glow” effect a lot. It works for the style of game.
Beatmania II DX: 6th style has a lot of replay value. You’ll play this game over and over again to master the huge songlist, and when you get good you’ll start remixing songs. There’s a lot of skill involved to master this game and once you do you’ll really enjoy the game. That saying, this isn’t a game for casual music game fans. This is a game for hardcore music game fans that are willing to invest time to go through the frustration of learning how to play the game and players that are willing to invest money in buying the equipment to make the game fun.
All of the menus and the songlist are in English, but how to play the game is in Japanese.
With all of the success of Dance Dance Revolution in America there is a chance that this game or another Beatmania II DX game will be released, but right now nothing is planned.
+ Pros: Lots of music variety, degrees of difficulty to challenge everybody
– Cons: Only fun with the specialized controller, bland visuals
Overall: If you’ve played any other Beatmania game before you know what to expect and you should pick this up. If you haven’t tried it out at friend’s or in the arcade first before you invest time and money in the series.