Encore Extra Stage #04

Welcome once again to another Encore Extra Stage. You know me, Alex Williams, and I know you, the three or so readers who frequent my column regularly. (HI, MOM!)

Okay, I lied. I’m not THAT neglected. I think I have four or five readers now. Maybe six, if I’m lucky! (HI, DAD!)

Now that I’ve finished running THAT joke into the ground…onto random topics of conversation!


FOLLOW-UP TO LAST WEEK

It seems like every time I talk about something in the column, something will happen that will make me add to it, or just fully retract it, in the following column. Don’t worry, I’ll keep this one brief.

Remember back last week when I said that Aaron In Japan site seemed to be cooling off in regards to the whining they were doing about U.S. DDR Extreme, and most notably the new graphical interface? Well, get ready for another twist…

First, Dancing Stage: Fusion (the next European DDR game) was announced about a week or two ago, coming this October. For what its worth, the version is going to be miles ahead of its predecessors, with over 50 songs, over 20 licensed songs (many exclusive), and the look and feel of the US DDR Extreme. The song list will be different, as will the color scheme, but many of the modes (if not all) will be in tact. Not much of a fuss was made, as DS: Fusion was known for a while, and was expected to contain these changes. BUT…

It turns out that there’s going to be a brand new PS2 home version of DDR that will be Japan-only. Yeah, that caught EVERYONE off guard. It’s to be called DDR Festival – Dance Dance Revolution, and it’ll be coming out this November along side Beatmania IIDX 8th Style and Pop’n Music 10, other games in the Bemani franchise.

And we saw some screenshots. Guess what. Except for the song list, the games will be EXACTLY THE SAME. Same graphics, same modes, same brand new EyeToy support.

Needless to say, the Japanese elitists aren’t happy. They’ve grown so complacent over the last three years with the DDRMAX and DDR Extreme interfaces and scoring systems that they would not accept anything else. And now Konami is making changes, heads are rolling. And brand new venom is coming out.

Although something puzzles me. All the venom is STILL going to the new U.S. game. Complaints now go something like “Hey, the new JP game is US’ified!” or “They’re borrowing the look from the U.S. game!”

Never mind that it’s Japanese game developers in Tokyo that are developing ALL THREE GAMES MENTIONED ABOVE. Dance Dance Revolution Extreme (US), Dancing Stage Fusion, and DDR Festival are all popping out of THEIR studio, and all are being released this fall.

This is what really irks me about these ignorant Japanese elitists. They see at least ONE difference between US and Japanese games, and suddenly, its all OUR fault. WE’RE the ones to blame for the new look (which is actually VERY slick), new songs, new additions, new modes, etc, etc, etc.

Geez, they act as though living in this country is a burden for them.

The fact of the matter is that KCET is the mastermind behind the new interface. The interface has changed from the one used for the past three years to accommodate the EyeToy. And with the EyeToy being a hot piece of hardware to play around with in the US, Europe, and Japan, KCET decided to incorporate the feature into all the new games. (To be fair, even KDEA fought the interface change for a while until KCET overruled them.) The only thing KDEA can be blamed for, in this instance, is securing the rights to our exclusive U.S. licensed songs. And really, outside of Y.M.C.A., I don’t see a problem with any of them. (And even then, I’ll accept Y.M.C.A. for the lone fact that I can EyeToy to it. It’s not that bad a song when you can PURPOSELY look goofy while dancing.)

To be honest, the three games having the same interface make a lot of sense. I’m going to assume that all three games, considering the release dates are so close, have been in development during the same time. Which probably makes KCET’s life MUCH easier, as if the interface is the basic skeleton, and songs can easily be added, removed, changed, etc. The same goes for fixing any bugs as they come up.

You know, KCET really needs to be respected for what they are doing. Let’s face it, there hasn’t been an arcade DDR mix in two years, and there hasn’t been any announcements made regarding new ones. The series has gone on an official “arcade hiatus” in Japan. And without arcade mixes, there’s no official “guide” for home mixes to follow. So was this to be the death of the Japanese DDR home mixes as well? No. Instead, Konami decided to release a new mix. And with no arcade data to guide them, they were allowed to do whatever they wanted. And you know what? They did. Pure and simple. They FINALLY changed the overall look of the game. They added new modes, or added back popular old ones. They made the game specifically PS2 friendly this time around, as all the arcade interfaces in the past were designed specifically for PS1 caliber hardware. And they managed to keep the core gameplay in tact while doing it. And the best thing about this? EVERYONE gets in on the action this time. Everyone gets to try Mission Mode. Everyone has the option of playing on the EyeToy. Everyone can play the unique mini-games. There’s no “lag” anymore. All territories have “caught up”. And people don’t like this?

Konami decided DDR needed to evolve on the PS2. Now we need to see if the players, ALL the players, are willing to evolve as well.

And if they don’t want to? If they keep complaining? I’ll just sit in my corner of the DDR universe, laughing at their ignorance and incompetence. Either way…


DIGITAL BOOBIES!

Ugh. Why do I live in a world where video game characters can show off their digitized bodies in Playboy?

Last week, I held off of my contempt for this incredibly idiotic idea, mostly because the character in question came from a series I don’t really care about. I never played Bloodrayne, so I never got to attached to…whoever that chick is. So I let it slide.

But NOW…things are getting ridiculous. Now we have OTHER game characters coming into the mix, and joining Ms. What’s-Her-Face in this moronic stunt. And I can be angry now, because I RECOGNIZE these people!

I mean, come on! Leisure Suit Larry Girls? Nina from Tekken? MILEENA from Mortal Kombat?

Now, reports are coming in that Ms. Whachamacallit will be the only one rendered without a shirt on. Everyone else will be clothed, although drawn in seductive poses. This doesn’t matter. What matters is that this feature is being PLANNED, and people are going to go through with PUBLISHING it.

And because of the above, video game fans will buy it. And they will flip to the pages that contain topless COMPUTER ANIMATED DRAWINGS. And they will fap to them. Stop kidding yourselves. The pages will stick together within minutes of opening the magazine. It’s bad enough they fap to Pamela Anderson and such, but to GAME CHARACTERS? That’s just sick. And if this promotion is successful, Playboy will probably want to CONTINUE this with future features. Meaning more fanboys will get to jackin’ to their favorite buxom beauties…that aren’t real.

I really don’t think there’s a point to all this rambling. All I know is that if I EVER see a full spread of Luna from Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete, I’m gonna start breakin’ heads.

No, not THOSE HEADS. PERVERTS!


MORE NEWS ON THE PisSP

I was all set to turn this column in, until I found out a new press conference was held regarding the Sony PSP. The conference was billed to have some new information about the unit, but it only served to be some PSP self-fellacio before heading into the Tokyo Game Show later this month. All that was presented, really, was the development tools used to create the games.

The rest of the time, presenter George Bain literally either FOUGHT OFF all other questions regarding the unit, or gave us information that would make us anticipate the unit LESS.

For example, you know that UMD media? It won’t be available to the public. So consumers can’t record their own video, and game developers won’t be able to use them either. Nope! They’ll have to record the master data on DVD-R’s like everybody else to send to Sony for approval.

Bain also wouldn’t confirm the battery life, which is already being rumored at around 2 1/2 – 3 hours at a time before needing to be charged. He said, and I quote:

“I have no idea what the battery life is going to be like. It will depend on a lot of factors, like how loud the player has the volume.”

WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?!?!?

You mean to tell me that to hear my PisSP games without headphones, I’ll have to sacrifice MORE BATTERY POWER? I have NEVER even HEARD of that being a factor in regards to handhelds! (Hmmm, Snake’s talking kinda low. I’ll just turn up the volume and *CLICK* HEY! The power cut off!)

For those who are still Sony loyal after this shamble of a press conference, they say the price and playable software will be available at this year’s TGS. But don’t hold your breath. You’ll probably only be able to play the damn thing while standing on your head or something.


RECENT DDR ACCOMPLISHMENTS

When you get your own column, THEN you can tell me not to bore you with this stuff.

#855 – Baila! Baila! — 3-Foot Light [ULTRAMIX]
#856 – Gorgeous 2012 — 3-Foot Light [ULTRAMIX]
#857 – There 4 U — 3-Foot Light [ULTRAMIX]
#858 – Infinite Prayer -floating flock style- — 3-Foot Light [ULTRAMIX]

I might hit 1,000 this year. That’s scary.


I GOT MAIL???

What can I say? People send me mail, and I print it. Simple as that.

This one is in response to my Metroid Prime 2: Echoes preview:

You have yet to play Super Metroid?? Get on EBay and get what you need to do so ASAP!

XCHRIS82

Yes sir! Alright, lets pull up eBay here and…hey, wait! I don’t take orders from random e-mailers! DENIED!

I’ll pick up an old SNES when I’m good and ready to. Current funds permit me only for more “current” purchases at the moment.

And to last week’s column…

How is it going?
Congrats on the smooth transition from 411Mania to Inside Pulse without missing a step. Sorry bad pun. Anyways I have been a long time reader of yours but never cared to much for DDR till I tried it, but now I am horribly hooked. I want to try to get all the US Versions I can. I have DDRMax2 and I just bought the Red Octane Ignition Dance pad and I love the game even more. I plan to keep playing till I feel I am ok enough to go to a arcade and try the machine out (which I have never done) and hope I do not get to many laughs from all the teenboppers the machines attract. Anyway my question is What The Hell Is Going On With DDR Disney Mix? I am a big Disney fan and since I recently got hooked on DDR I found out that their was a Disney version I have been trying my damndest to get that game. No game store in my area has it so I figured I could find it online. While I found it online but the prices are insane. On ebay it goes for $100 and here is a link to amazon and what their sellers are trying to get for it. Do they think it is a Neo Geo Game?

Amazon.com Link

It looks like I am going to be ass out on getting this game since I caught the DDR bug to late. So any idea why it commands such prices? I hope that Konami might do like Square did when they saw their PS1 games where going for insane prices and they put out greatest hits versions. So in closing keep up the great work. I thought your sending cookies to Konami was a great touch. I would do the same thing if they ever released a US port of Dracula X. Also thanks for the great link to Orange Lounge Radio I really enjoyed the show and music. Must find a Jet Set Radio Future soundtrack I cant get enough of Birthday Cake.
Thank for keep the great colum going,
Darkk

(1) If you’re good enough at home on the Light/Standard setting, you’re more than ready to try the game in the arcades. It really doesn’t matter HOW good you are actually. As long as you’re having fun playing the game, that’s all that matters.

(2) WOW. Disney Mix up and became a collectable right behind my back! I’ve never seen prices for an American DDR game go so high! That’s along the lines of games like Suikoden or something! I guess the game is one of the rarer ones, released in smaller quantities than most DDR titles.

Anyway, some background on Disney Mix: It was the second DDR title released in America, being a modified version of Japan’s DDR: Disney Rave. The game contained 20 songs, 9 of which were Disney tunes, another 5 were interesting licenses like “Night of Fire” and “Mr. Bassman”, and the remaining 6 ended up being served as preview Konami Originals for future games. (B4U, Midnite Blaze, My Summer Love, etc.)

In the beginning, only Basic and Trick steps were selectable. BUT, if you managed to pass each song on each difficulty, Maniac steps would appear. And interestingly enough, Maniac steps were EXCLUSIVE to the US game. Who would’ve thunk it?

Another interesting feature the game possessed was the “Dance Magic” mode. It was a special battle mode where you chose a Disney character, and battled your opponent. The better you did, the more random modifiers you could throw at them, such as Speed mods, Hidden mode, extra arrows, and the long fabled SUPER SUDDEN mod. The mode has never been seen outside of this game, but many still clamor for it to be included on a future DDR version.

Tell you what. If I EVER see a copy in a store somewhere (stranger things have happened), I’ll let you know. Least I can do.

(3) I wouldn’t count on seeing a “greatest hits” version of DDR here in the US. Considering that each PS2 mix has a good number of “returning” songs on it, that kinda serves as a miniature “best hits” edition per game. If anything, a greatest hits version would probably work in a few years, and would include a bunch of licenses from past games as well. But don’t expect anything now.

(4) Glad you liked Orange Lounge. It’s still the funniest Internet radio show on the planet.

(4) Birthday Cake is the best song off that soundtrack, bar none.


PLUGS & SHILLS THAT PAY THE BILLS

If you didn’t read these guys this week, something is wrong with you. Yes, YOU! In the back corner, with the Half-Life hat! You know who you are…

The 10th ArtBen Parfitt
Ben plays what he wants, when he wants. Whether it is in two dimensions, or three dimensions. Ben is awesome. Unlike all you 3D fanboys who have forsaken the wondrous art of 2D gaming for 3D boobies. (i.e. See Above)

From A Gamer’s BasementA.J. Angeloni
A.J. reminisces over days gone by when the arcades had all the best games. Then home console games came along and screwed all of that up for us. But I still go to arcades…for obvious reasons…

The Daily PulseAlex Lucard
Lucard touches on the Bloodrayne/Playboy Hell Connection more coherently and intelligently than I did. But the point remains that whoever buys that magazine to see digital boobies is f*cking stupid.

Gamer’s HangoverCory Laflin
Cory loves wrestling games, and loves No Mercy. I wish I still had No Mercy. It still had the best implementation of a story mode EVER in a wrestling game.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To Video GamesMisha
Misha talks about the return to college (yippieyippiehooray), and describes a bunch of games coming out this Fall that are going to be keepers. He’s also going nuts at the ECTS this week, so check all of his stories at the top of our main page.

Mid-Week Mid BossLee Baxley
It’s with a heavy heart that I have to say goodbye to Lee once again. He’s been one of the most kick-ass writers I’ve ever seen in my two-site tenure, and he will be missed greatly. Here’s to you, Lee.

Rapid FireBrian Berg
Bryan gives the counter argument to my “time” argument last week considering each game now has a save feature. Well, my counter argument to THAT is the fact that in certain games, I might blank out on what I did to get there. In Xenosaga, I started a new game, went on to play other games for a couple of weeks, went back to Xenosaga, forgot where I was, and had to start over. This happened TWICE.

Pulse CannonMichael O’Reilly
More PC game talk from good ol’ Mike, and a good few words on Evil Genius. I just might have to check that game out myself one of these days.

The Angry GamerLiquidcross
LC bashes on my old profession: cheating. And so I stick by my old mantra: It’s not cheating unless you get caught by your fellow gamers.

Plugs are brief this week as I’m pressed for time right now. Moving on…


LAST WORDS

Another Friday, another Extra Stage completed. You should be PROUD of yourselves!

Next week, I’ll bash a game that lives to inform you about diabetes. Yes, diabetes. You’ll find out in a week.

Alex Williams, The Norwegian Athlete