Since Dance Dance Revolution: Hottest Party is designed as a more social version of DDR I thought it was best to play it with at least one more person. I’m lucky enough to have two mats since the Mario Mix mat works a-OK. Let’s take a look at the song list first. Dance Dance Revolution: Hottest Party is certainly different from the other games with a heavy list of remixed cover songs. Techno remixes of Always, Disco Inferno, Summertime are not going to appeal to everyone. The cover songs are clearly geared towards an older crowd since few kids will be able to recognize 99 Red Balloons if they heard it on the radio. It’s interesting that Konami went this route because most of the other North America DDR mixes have been heavily pop oriented (more on this in SuperNOVA2).
Don’t worry there are traditional Dance Dance Revolution eurobeat songs in Hottest Party too. In fact you’ve heard many of them already! Konami went the remix route with some of their popular songs: B4U, Breakdown, Candy, Love Shine and 1998. The downside is with the exception of English lyrics (Breakdown is a “world version”) the songs don’t sound wildly different. Maybe I was expecting too much, I know my friend was. He claims that Candy (UFO Mix) sounds nearly identical to Candy <3, but it has English lyrics. Speaking of the English lyrics, I wonder what fans of the songs are going to think of them… Candy’s English lyrics sound out of place to me, but I never really liked its happy pop-beat in the first place so the change isn’t going to bother me. I’m skipping that song either way. For step masters there are two ten footers: tokyoEVOLVED and Super Samurai.
For the past few years Konami has been trying to add more single player value in their Dance Dance Revolution games. I think they found the perfect blend of challenges and unlocking in Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2 / Strike with their dance master mode. The Groove Circuit is essentially a revised version of it. Instead of a giant map of challenges you enter arenas take on specific missions and eventually face off against the boss of the venue. The final fight is a one on one battle where you need to score higher than the CPU player on a set song with pre-set modifiers. You’re still stomping on the mat and waving your hands so it’s essentially the same thing with a slight twist.
Dance Dance Revolution: Hottest Party adds in hand markers, but there aren’t any complicated movements. You just shake the remote/nunchuk when a hand indicator comes up over the left or right arrow. Compared to the other new set of markers the hand diamonds are the least likely modifier to throw players off. New gimmicks include a double stomp arrow that you need to hit twice, a spiky foot destructor that depletes your dance meter if you step on it and arrows that spin into place. My friend loathed the new additions, especially the foot destroyer, probably because he’s a hardcore DDR player trained to stomp on everything he sees. It takes more than a few songs to train yourself to avoid them and if you’re trying for a “perfect attack” these are utterly frustrating. Granted, I never play DDR to get a perfect score on “heavy” songs. I just like moving around so I enjoyed the challenge the new arrows brought. It made me think twice rather than go into an automatic stepping spree. However, even I found the foot missiles, bouncing icons that can damage an opponent’s dance meter, irritating. They add in a bit of spontaneity to the preset arrows, but juggling them with another player is distracting when you are trying to stick to the beat. Here’s the deal: if you don’t like the gimmicks you can switch them off in the menu. So don’t worry about the additions too much if you don’t like what you are hearing. While you can remove the gimmicks you can’t crank up the arrow speed or visual modifiers like hidden. Both of us were surprised by the lack of options and neither of us liked it.
Players who aren’t waist deep into Dance Dance Revolution will probably enjoy Hottest Party more than the hardcore stepping crowd. To some extent Konami is trying to draw in new players, which is why Dance Dance Revolution: Hottest Party has revisions. Good thing the difficulty is the same though. Remember how easy Mario Mix was? Yeah, Dance Dance Revolution: Hottest Party isn’t a repeat of that. Now I just need to find two more mats so I can try out the frenzied four player mode. I assume it’s going to be something like Dance Dance Revolution: Universe’s online mode except you can see the three other people since they are standing next to you and all.