(screens from gamershell.com.)
seen it in the arcades. You've read about it in the weblogs of tubby
otaku who use it as a social outlet. You've had to push a few dozen
mixes of it to the side in a futile search for old SNK Playstation games.(Well,
that's me, anyway.) It's Dance Dance Revolution, and now I've been exposed
best description I can think of for the unitiated is that it's karaoke
for your feet. You pick a song and flail around on a big directional
pad as the scrolling arrows line up with the static arrows at the top
of the screen, while trying to ignore the insane images flashing before
your eyes. Do good and your little life bar thingy goes up and the announcer
sounds like a rabid dog. Screw up and your life bar shrinks. If it gets
too low, the game proceeds to slide in subliminal "DANGER"
messages and film clips of a freaking SHARK ATTACK.
hard to say anything particularly disparaging about the gameplay itself.
DDR may be the first game I've encountered where your actual skill and
rhythm are the only things that count. Unless you set your side to beginner's
level after daring the other player to crank his challenge all the way
up. When you screw up in that game, you know it's because you
weren't fast enough or mistepped or whatever. My number one complaint
about the format itself is putting all the arrows in a row. I get front
and back steps mixed up a lot. Of course, I'm not particularly good
at the game or anything. I have weak ankles and hate to sweat, so even
if I get into the swing of a song before the last three steps, I wind
up screwing up.
guess the real appeal of DDR lies in the atmosphere it gives off. Even
if they stick the machine in the corner behind the sit-down Galaga machine,
its pulsing lights and sugar rush music make it into the center of the
bloody room. At the college game room I first played at, it was the
only machine in full working order that wasn't Maximum Force. Or whatever
they call that one. It also features the crappiest Area 51 cabinet ever
created. Seriously, this thing consists of a plain white cabinet with
the screen, and a white table a couple feet in front of it with a pair
of Lethal Enforcers pistols. I think it's a bootleg. Between that, electronic
darts, air hockey and a Tekken Tag machine that devours change, it's
hard to ignore the Mountain Dew-colored machine shining its brights
in your face while playing Happy Happy Hardcore Hits. Today, I was at
the arcade with a friend, and some random guy came up. Within ten minutes
they were talking casually. Within fifteen they were unsettingly happy
and sweaty. My theory is that there's a field of about a 30 foot radius
that the machine generates to eliminate shame and social inhibition.
Kind of like alcohol, or a naked person in the middle of a crowded street,
it's a loud, bright, happy ice breaker. Supporting evidence: some burnt-out
looking guy plugged in his PS2 and hopped around dancing and fake-conducting
to the strains of Final Fantasy Anthology on CD playback mode. Tchaikosvky/Chocobo
they were showing Cowboy Bebop DVDs on that PS2. Which leads me to make
the observation whoever did sound design on the menus needs to be shot
for having the looping title theme reset right as it gets to the good
part of Tank!.
loathe the announcer. He sounds even more like a Japanese-American speed
addict than the guy from Real Bout Fatal Fury Special.
I suppose the same could be said of the weird-ass voiceover from Street
Fighter Alpha 3. But whereas they sounded like they were struggling
with English like a marlin on a line, the DDR DJ sounds like an oddly
judgemental mental patient as he sobs "THANK YOU... FOR SHOWING
ME THE ULTIMATE DANCE!" The last thing I need to hear
while concentrating on slowly scrolling arrows while sending signals
from my brain to my feet and ignoring the dancing unicorns on the LSD-trip
background is "Hey, is that a UFO?"
machine has a pretty diverse selection of music, ranging from about
a hundred J/A/K-pop songs to bagpipes. Of course, people tend to settle
on the same three or four songs and play them endlessly hoping for a
high score. There's also a handful of Konami game theme remixes (Konami
made this game. And Yu-Gi-Oh. I grudgingly admit my admiration for Konami's
ability to churn out marketable crap just as well as come up with original
properties.) There's also a Tokimeki Memorial-themed
mix out in Japan that I'm morbidly interested in, but know we'll never
is a good case study on how to cash in fast and efficiently. There are
like 7 (probably more) mixes of this game out now, as well as some random
others like a Disney mix. Let me stress that the game hasn't been around
all that long, so we're looking at nearly tri-monthly releases here.
It's so simple, I bet Electronic Arts is wishing they'd come up with
the rhythm genre first. Remix some popular old songs, add some new pop
songs, toss in some random original tunes. Anyone with a "Best
of [Decade]" collection in their music library would realize they
have an almost unlimited supply of material to tap. We have Beethoven
remixes here, people. This is a cash cow we have here. A COW made of
said a cow couldn't be a little fun, though.