Encore Extra Stage #12

Hello again everyone, and WELCOME to Friday. Is everyone in good health and good spirits? I’m not. Being sick sucks.

Besides my recent sore throat / nasal congestion combo band playing in my head for a three week tour, I’ve spent the week productively wasting time with GTA and the games I’ve rented from GameFly. I recently restarted my subscription, but the delivery time from the warehouse to my front door took MUCH longer than usual. I’m certainly hoping that my future rents don’t take a week at a time to deliver front to back from here on out.

So what do I have on tap this week? Um…mostly stuff a week old. That’s what I get when I turn in a column on Thursday evening and Nintendo/Konami make an awesome announcement on Friday morning. So, lets cover what happened last Friday morning after the deadline passed!


GAMECUBE DDR

So I wake up Friday morning, check my e-mail, and find this in my inbox:

Alex,

I found something else I need you to tell me about. Mostly because I can’t read Japanese. What is all this about a Mario-themed DDR game? I don’t know much, but I found this on the internet:
http://www.nintendo.co.jp/n10/news/050107/index.html
If you scroll down, you can see Mario dancing to DDR directions. So, is DDR finally headed to the Gamecube? What’s going on here?
Thanks.

Richard Haynes

At this point in the morning, it was definitely news to me. I knew for a fact that there was no DDR title for the GameCube, and thought there were none in the works. So I followed the link and saw something I’d thought I’d NEVER see. Dance arrows and Mario on the screen at the same time. To say I was floored was a complete understatement.

At first I wasn’t going to talk much about it, as I’m sure the news post on this very site gave you all the information that was out there at the present. But you guys simply won’t leave me alone about it!

WELL WELL WELL.. lookie at what I found online today.

http://www.gamespot.com/news/2005/01/07/news_6116002.html

Thoughts? :)

Chad Smith

Heh. You guys! Keepin’ me on my toes as always!

All right, going on what we know so far, the game is called Dance Dance Revolution w/Mario. The title suggests the game content completely. It will be a Nintendo-themed DDR game, with Mario characters (at the very least) dancing in the background.

The first thing I noticed, though, is that the game is going to be jointly published between Nintendo and Konami. So this isn’t a scenario like how Nintendo is lending its franchises to EA to give bonuses to the GameCube consumer. Both Nintendo and Konami are fully involved in the project, with each having an equal say. This is exactly how Donkey Konga was produced, with Nintendo and Namco co-publishing that bad boy. So we can probably expect a quality game between the two.

Shut up. NINTENDO and KONAMI are involved in a joint-project. The Zelda and Castlevania makers! Pokemon and Metal Gear! TELL ME that the franchises in question can’t mesh together. Go on! TELL ME! Of course you can’t.

We also know the following:

–The game will come bundled with an official Konami dance pad. Did you waste your money on the Madcatz bundle? Yes, its now going to come back to haunt you.

–The game will also contain mini-games. And as everyone knows, Nintendo has refined the art of mini-gaming down to a SCIENCE.

–The game will be seeing a summer release in Japan. No US release has been announced at this time.

That’s pretty much it for the time being. We will gain more information next week during CES tradeshow in Japan, as it will be displayed in demo form. So until next week comes along, here are some predictions I would like to offer. (LOGICAL predictions.):

–The song list will have at least 30 songs, but will NOT exceed 50.

–The three main levels of steps (Light, Standard, Heavy) will be included, but will be slightly easier than what we are used to. There will still be hard songs, but nothing like “MAX 300” difficulty.

–We can expect Konami covers of classic Nintendo songs. A danceable Super Mario Brothers theme, a Legend of Zelda remix, maybe some items from Pokemon and Kirby, etc. (Hey! “the legend of ZELDA”! HAHAHAHAHAhahaha…I CRACK MYSELF UP!)

–There will be some licensed material included, or at least covers of licensed material.

–If the game received a US release, the licensed material will most likely be changed due to complications in the licensing process. (Licensing in different territories is a bitch indeed.)

–There will be a main game mode, and possibly a miniature “Story Mode” involving Mario and the gang. If Mario Power Tennis has a mini-story with that opening cut scene, ANYTHING is possible.

–We will see a US release. There’s no way this WON’T be released in America, people. We got Donkey Konga, for cryin’ out loud! If we can get a bongo game, we will most definitely see a dance pad game.

I am expecting nothing but good things from this Nintendo/Konami hybrid. I always said that it was the music that keeps the DDR series worth coming back to. Having Nintendo classics/remixes to dance to will only increase this desire. Consider me happy.


ALL IMPORTENT QUESTION ANSWERED

BTW, you never answered my question from last weeks novel. Do you live in norwegia? ;)

Chad Smith

No. Norwegia doesn’t exist. Now quit asking.

THE END!


FLAME WARS ARE FUN

There isn’t going to be a “traditional” mailbag this week due to half of the e-mail being about the topics above, and the other half dealing with what you will read in this section. Seriously, you guys are the driving force in column topics lately, and you all rock for it.

In any case, last week I received an e-mail in response to something I wrote MONTHS ago: the infamous cookie column, and one of my finest works. I had received nothing but positive feedback for the piece…until recently, courtesy of Andrew Tanase:

Hey dude. I read ur whole article on how u bought konami cookies. U think they actually decided to put the song in the game cuz of you’re suggestion? Quite selfish of you to think that way. And I can’t believe u wrote that much about it. Learn to be more concise. lol

Anyways.

DDR is dead. Konami let it die, quite sad

ITG > DDR

itgfreak.com

Oh boy. Not only do I receive a flame that takes my words completely out of context, but its from an In The Groove fanboy! I must be SO LUCKY!

Before I continue, a quick word about In The Groove. While I haven’t played it, ITG is essentially a DDR clone, made by the same people who produce the free Stepmania program. They decided that since no new arcade DDR games are coming out in Japan, they would put one out THEMSELVES!

Gameplay is essentially identical to DDR except you can do more things with it. For example, there are more modifications you can make to the songs. Also, there appear to be certain step patterns with “mines” in them. If a mine appears in an arrow column, you will be penalized for stepping on it, dropping your dance gauge quite a bit. Emphasis is also placed more on the steps than the music, I’ve heard. Ratings for songs can range anywhere from one through thirteen or fourteen, and many patterns are made to be extremely difficult. In fact, steps are focused on SO much that the step chart creator is given as much credit as the song writers/producers. In essence, ITG is trying to out-DDR DDR in the arcades.

So far, it seems to be doing a rather…um…crappy job of it. This is not ripping on the actual game’s merits at all, rather it is instead ripping on the game’s availability When I visited the site linked in this gentleman’s e-mail, I went straight to the Locations section to see where I can find ITG machines. Turns out you can only find the game in 23 states, with only 60+ actual machines to go around. There are none in Maryland, so I can’t experience the game for myself. In fact, the only state there are more than 10 ITG machines is California with 17. Now, there are over 1,000 DDR machines across the country currently. Guess who is winning the battle for the arcades at this point in time.

Back to this guy and his flame. Well, I got a big kick out of it. So much so that I let him know in advance that he would be making a prominent appearance in this week’s column:

This is the funniest e-mail I’ve received in a long time. So funny that I decided to not wait until next week to address it.

(re: My column)

Of course not. The inclusion of that song was not solely because I suggested it. It’s a semi-popular song in its own right, and liked by much of the DDR community. KCEH decided to pursue the song all by themselves, got the rights to it, and included it. Nothing I specifically said to them brought Moonlight Shadow to the game. Hoping silently to one’s self and single posts on the Internet do not cause songs to appear in a game.

In fact, the only thing I did was cause Moonlight Shadow’s inclusion to be revealed sooner then planned thanks to my joke post, and I was told as such by Konami representatives. Believe it or not, it’s true.

(re: Selfish?)

My column, my topic matter. Don’t like it? Don’t read it. Want to take it out of context and send me stupid flames? Go ahead. They’ll just be posted for all to mock

(re: DDR dead, ITG rulez)

Yeah, it’s too bad we haven’t seen any mixes AT ALL ever since 2002…oh, wait. Never mind. Yes we have. And more are coming.

Oh yeah, opinions are not facts. Just thought I’d mention that. You like ITG? Fine. Doesn’t make it inherently better than DDR, though.

Hope you enjoy your humiliation in EES #12!

Alex Williams

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I probably got a little carried away with my response. Still, its not like he didn’t have it coming. Sending me something without any inherent logical back up is perfect fodder for a mailbag after all.

So he responds to with this:

Um more are coming? Home mixes or arcade mixes? There are no mentioned projects to release a new DDR arcade mix. Other games like ITG and Dancing Stage Fusion (or something like that) are releasing mixes.

‘My humiliation’ in your next rant? U gonna diss ITG or my email message to you?

I like how he doesn’t consider home releases of a franchise to be “real” releases. That tickles my funny bone like nothing else can. I ALSO like how he has no clue that DDR is the same as Dancing Stage in everything other than name. That cracked me up.

And since he asked politely, my next response was as follows:

(re: Arcade mixes)

Dancing Stage is DDR in Europe, only with a name change. Therefore, arcade DDR mixes are not dead. And DDR is not dead unless ALL PRODUCTION IS HALTED. If we don’t see any more home mixes to go with the current lack of arcade releases, THEN you can say the series is dead.

(re: ITG bashing)

How can I diss ITG, considering there’s no machine in a 500-mile radius from my home state? I can’t just label something completely a game as horrible without experiencing it first hand.

And yes, I will take apart your e-mail into bite-sized chunks and prove you have no idea what you are talking about. In fact, the “Dancing Stage Fusion” line cracked me up so much, you earned TWO spots.

Yes, it was tactless at the end. But he still didn’t have any idea what he was talking about. And it was worth it to see if he would extend this column further by responding yet again.

And sure enough, HE DID!

Dancing Stage is only in Europe…
And have you played DDR extreme USA home version? That mix makes DDR look so horrible. Haven’t played Ultramix 2, but I’m sure it’s not that outstanding or revolutionary as DDR extreme arcade mix was.

I’ll rephrase my thought. Production of arcade DDR mixes in the USA/Japan is nonexistent.

Insult me all you want, but in a few years ITG along with other companies’ dancing games will dig a deep grave for DDR.

(Sigh) After a rousing game of bashing my head against the wall, I took to him one more time:

(re: Dancing Stage)

Yes, it is. It is ALSO Dance Dance Revolution in every single aspect except for the name. I can’t make it any more clearer than that.

(re: Extreme US opinions)

(1) Obviously you don’t think very well of EX US, and you are entitled to that opinion. I, on the other hand, thought the mix was pretty good. Yes, it has its flaws. They’ve been documented over and over again by the purists. Duh. BUT, if you’re willing to look PAST its flaws, it has a LARGE amount of gameplay modes, the best version of a Challenge Mode in a DDR title, and most importantly a great song list, including a bunch of stuff demanded by the hardcore fans for over two years now. (Of course no one notices these songs because of the OTHERS that haven’t made it to America yet, but what what are you going to do.)

(2) When you think about it, how was Extreme JP AC so friggin’ “revolutionary” when compared to MAX2? It has over 200 songs, yes, but most of them are repeats piled on repeats. It has the LEAST amount of new material produced for it, instead relying on more popular Bemani crossovers to help draw interest. Oni was revolutionary back in the MAX2 days, sure, but its continuation in EX JP was not. And bringing back Nonstop isn’t revolutionary, either. Nostalgic, yes, but not revolutionary.

(3) Ultramix 2 brings 50 exclusive songs to the table, many of them licenses and brand new Konami Originals. It outnumbers EX JP in licenses by 3.5 to 1. It has brand new gameplay modes never even DREAMED about by KCET. You can play online. You can download new songs. You can dance on four pads at once. You can play VS Doubles. If these items aren’t revolutionary, I don’t know what is.

(re: Modified statement)

Talk about news of the century.

(re: ITG taking over?!?)

I can’t see something like ITG taking over DDR, even in the long run. ITG machines are too few and far between right now, and not a lot of people are willing to shell out the big bucks for arcade kits. Perhaps if ITG came to consoles so the majority of America can…you know…PLAY IT, perhaps then Konami will respond. Right now, it isn’t much of a threat to anyone. And it will keep being nonthreatening unless the creators decide to go gung ho and try to take the country by storm.

And what other companies are putting out dancing games these days? Outside of the obvious ones, of course? I highly doubt that MC dance GROOVZ has a snowball’s chance in hell of becoming a breakout hit.

He hasn’t responded since.

You see, this is what happens if you want to prove your point without being smart about it. You get misery, woe, and guaranteed space in one column. From here on out, he will be ignored completely unless he can put together a string of sentences that don’t end with “ITG rulez, DDR druelz”.

I can be an asshole when I want to be. And its so much FUN when I want to be.


LISTEN TO ORANGE LOUNGE RADIO

Come on, ya know ya wanna!

And maybe next week, I’ll give you a link that will let all you people out there know how my voice sounds on OLR. Seriously. When I call, I talk at LENGTH!


PARTING THOUGHTS

(Whew) Another week, another column pumped out. Now I get to go back to killing innocent bystanders by accident while running errands for the mafia.

…In SAN ANDREAS, you morons! What, you think I kill people for a living? Don’t answer that.

Hey, didn’t I say I’d be talking about gamer burnout this week? Damn, I plum forgot. Expect it next week, unless I got a ton of flames to go through.

And perhaps I’ll have more information on DDR w/Mario to share from the various CES reports out there. In any case, expect more good stuff in the future.


Alex Williams, The Norwegian Athlete