DDR Festival: Dance Dance Revolution

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Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution series hasn’t undergone any major innovations since the introduction of freeze arrows in DDR Max (also known as 6th Mix). Yet followers of flashing arrows are content with having a new songs and new oni courses in a new mix. Low and behold Konami of America decides to give the series a face lift for the release of Dance Dance Revolution Extreme in the US. Instead of just making it a dancing game they take advantage of Sony’s Eyetoy camera. It looks like that Japan might miss out on the new Eyetoy features, but Konami comes right along and releases DDR Festival for Japan. Unlike other Dance Dance Revolution mixes this one contains “new” content for the Japanese audience by packing together American exclusive content.

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All of the mini games and Eyetoy support from DDR Extreme US are in DDR Festival. With the Eyetoy you can watch yourself dancing on the TV. This is somewhat interesting for freestyle players out there who want to see what they look like while playing. Another new mode is where you dance to a song, but the screen keeps getting dirty. Virtual dirt covers the screen, which blocks you from viewing the steps to the song. In concept this mode sounds pretty good, but in reality it just isn’t interesting. Pro players won’t be affected by this if they’ve already memorized the steps. Novice players are likely to get frustrated because they have to flail their arms just to see the next set of steps. Besides Eyetoy support Konami has also added in two mini games. One of the games has you race against a friend. To win you need to stomp on your pad as quickly as possible to make your character run fast. You don’t have to fight fair in this race if you are trailing behind. By pressing on the down arrow you can make a hole appear, which could slow down a player long enough for you to take the lead. The other included game has you feed a bunch of animals. Each arrow represents a different type of food. You need to feed the correct animal the correct meal to score points. For instance you need to feed the rabbit carrots and the frog flies. You don’t want to feed fish to the dogs, that’s for the cats. The more animals you feed the more you take a lead in the feeding race. Whoever feeds the most animals in the end wins. All of these extra games are a nice diversion from DDR, but most arcade veterans won’t care too much about them.

The core of Dance Dance Revolution has always been the song list, not any mini game. Gamers want new songs and more of them. This mix has a total of 66 songs, which is a solid number to have. If you’re in Japan this might be the first time you’re hearing a lot of these songs. Many of the Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix Xbox exclusive songs are on the PS2 for the first time. This includes songs like Infinite Prayer, Absolute (Cuff-N-Stuff Mix), There 4 You. A bunch of the songs were taken from the Xbox Live upgrade packs which include Mind Parasite, Fire Dub, Battle Breaks and What is Love. Even if you’ve tried these songs out on the Xbox, they have all new step sets for the PS2 version. This is a blessing for importers that already own Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix. Another large group of songs were taken from DDR Extreme US. This includes all of the Karaoke Revolution covers like Waiting for Tonight, Believe and Bizarre Love Triangle plus the non Karaoke Revolution song, Maximzier. Like in all DDR mixes Konami has to add old favorites in the song list. DDR Festival has a bunch of Be For U songs like Dive, Firefly and Candy Heart. Also included in this mix are Sana Morette Ne Ente, Abyss, Un Deux Trois and the challenging Sakura. We’ve gone through the majority of the songs and you probably haven’t seen anything new. The absolutely new stuff added includes the anime theme song from Cutie Honey, two J-Pop tracks Diamond and Gakuen Tengoku along with Ki Se Ki sung by the reformed Be For U.

While the song list might not sound great to importers, it’s not a bad mix for the Japanese market. Classic Konami songs like Dive, era (nostralmix) and Insertion haven’t seen a PS2 release. The new tracks from Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix haven’t been seen in Japan either. Overall the song mix is pretty balanced genre wise. While the steps chart is skewed towards a more novice crowd. There are only two 10 foot songs and four 9 foot songs in the list. DDR Festival is working the same angle as Extreme US with a song list designed to pull new players into the series.

The graphics in DDR Festival are far from spectacular. You have a lot of reused animations from other DDR mixes and they’re getting old. On the other hand, you’re not playing Dance Dance Revolution to look at pretty pictures. So, even without having stellar graphics a DDR game can succeed. There is main graphical achievement in the game is having an all new music video for Ki Se Ki. Some followers are going to hate the new interface the series has. Instead of the song wheel seen in the arcade versions of DDR, DDR Festival uses the same interface as Extreme US. The interface is pretty clunky compared to the jukebox from 5th Mix. It takes slightly longer to navigate to the song you want. Since there are only 65 songs to rotate through the interface is workable.

It might not be the best mix for importers, but DDR Festival is a pretty good mix for the Japanese audience. It’s got a good variety of songs and brings the Japanese audience up to speed on the American changes to the series. The Eyetoy games are interesting, but they’re not great. If you’re a huge DDR fan and don’t have an Xbox DDR Festival is up your alley.

Import Friendly? Literacy Level: 2

Unlike most Dance Dance Revolution games this has a Japanese menu. Navigating through the options isn’t that bad, since the menu is all in katakana. If you can’t read any Japanese just use some trial and error or look at the DDR Extreme USA menu. The only problem gamers can come into is when trying to figure out the mission mode.

US Bound?

Since the majority of these songs are in some US mix already there is no reason for Konami to port it over.

+ Pros: Eyetoy support is a neat idea and it has a collection of USA exclusive songs on it.

– Cons: There isn’t enough “new” stuff in the game to warrant an import purchase.

Overall: If you love DDR and never played Ultramix some of these songs may interest you. Otherwise, the new Eyetoy features that are already in DDR Extreme USA and the weak song list make this pale in comparison to other DDR mixes.

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