Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party 3
Release Date: 10/27/2009
Man, it’s that time of year again. Two years and one month ago, Konami released the first DDR game for the Nintendo Wii, Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party. Now I’ve never been a DDR fan, but I decided to review it to see how the new handheld controls added to the game worked out, and I found myself having a lot of fun with the game. DDR Hottest Party 2 was released a year later with some noticeable improvements to the track lists and hand control detection.
Now it’s time for this year’s entry into the Hottest Party series, which promises a bunch of new changes, although for quite a bit of 2009, all next gen systems were simply supposed to be getting a game called Dance Dance Revolution that was the same across the board. I’m not sure why this changed, but I’m no expert on the DDR series; I just pay attention to this one.
So how does the newest DDR entry for the Wii hold up? Considering you can only buy it in bundle form right now, is it worth your $70, especially if you have the previous two games and a pad for your Wii?
Wow. This year Konami has given us an amazing array of modes to play DDR with, including the first DDR where you can use the Wii balance board. Crazy. Let’s take a look at them all.
I. Tournament Mode. This is this year’s story mode, where you have to clear progressively harder challenges to advance while unlocking songs, stages, characters and Mii parts along the way. It’s noticeably harder than last year, but there’s also a lot more unlockables to achieve along the way.
II. Free Play Mode. This is pretty cut and dry. You can play any of the songs you have unlocked at any difficulty and just dance away.
III. Training Mode. This is a bit odd as you also have DDR School (See below) but here you’ll practice some moves and can practice specific section of songs that give you trouble.
IV. Relaxed Mode. This is the same as Free Play, but only with the two easiest difficulty levels. You don’t pick stages or characters here as you do in Free Play either. It’s all randomized.
V. DDR School. This is for people brand new to DDR and you’ll learn how to do basic steps, hand motions and “gimmicks” through 18 chapters, although more will be unlocked as you play.
VI. Hypermove Mode. This was the general mode for DDR Hottest Party 1 & 2 This is the only mode that makes use of the Wiimote and Numchuk hand motions. It’s Free Play, but with all four limbs flailing.
VII. Wii Balance Board Mode. Here you’re on the balance board moving just your hips. It’s…odd, and pretty useless, but it’s something new and different, adding another dimension to the game, so I can’t complain.
VIII. Workout Mode. This keeps track of your caloric loss while you play. See how one hour of playing DDR equals about 30 minutes of biking or an ten minutes of jogging at 5mph!
IX. Options. Set difficulty, gimmicks and various other options here.
X. Records. See your records for the other modes.
The game has also included “DDR Points” in your lower left hand corner. I have yet to figure out how you earn points exactly as the score seems arbitrary (Like getting a full combo on a higher difficulty than messing up on a lower difficulty, yet the latter nets more points. Crazy.) but this will unlock various things for you that you would otherwise need to earn through secret requirements. It’s also unclear if what you’re unlocking with these points are different from what you get in Tournament mode. Finally, you have the ability to unlock everything from DDR Hottest Party 2 which is one of the things I love about this series.
Overall, there is a TON of stuff to do in this game. There are more modes here than I’ve ever seen in any version of DDR, regardless of system. I spent seven hours playing this game one day (…and then nursing a very tired left ankle over the next two days. Not sure why the right was fine.) and I still had things to unlock and do. That was pretty impressive to me.
I’ve always looked at DDR as a series with more rehashing that EA’s Madden – nothing more than a roster change and/or a song update. The Hottest Party series has really proven me wrong here. There’s so much new stuff in here, not only compared to last year’s version but also for DDR across the board. I’m highly impressed here.
Modes Rating: Great
Sadly, the graphics are still the worst part of this game. Most of the visuals in Hottest Party 3 look like they are from the old PSX versions of DDR. Even worse, the game is usually mostly the same visuals at Hottest Party 1 with a few new characters and stages. The game also lets you add Miis as background dancers, but this is actually a misnomer, as you can’t import your own Miis that you have already made. Instead you have to make Miis from a very limited selection of pieces (although you can unlock more). I wanted to have Mr. Burns or Hitler dance with me, dammit! This was a huge disappointment and I wonder why they would do Mii dancing this way instead of allowing imports of already made ones. Probably for the Hitler thing…
One of the things I really liked is that most of the songs have actually videos this time and it’s far more interesting (and visually attractive) than the otherwise rather ugly graphics of the game. This is becoming more and more prevalent with the 360, PS2 and PS3 DDRs, so it’s nice to see the Wii version finally catching up.
Again, the graphics of your dancers and stage are several generations behind, and these could easily be improved. It’s nice to see every dancer has a plethora of costumes and that they’ve added some new models, but it’s more than 75% the same visuals as two years ago and that’s not cool.
Graphics Rating: Bad
Widro has already supplied the full track list for the game, so just click on that link to see the tracks. To be honest, this is easily my favorite DDR track set EVER. As the average person looks rather dorky and stupid while playing the game (as compared to crazy impressive when a true master gets on a pad), Konami has seen fit to give us songs that actually make it fun to look silly when you’re dancing to it. I mean, “The Right Stuff” by NKOTB? “Ice Ice Baby” By Vanilla Ice? Rick Astley’s ultimate internet meme song? They’re all here along with a lot of great tracks from the 70s, 80s, 90s and today. There’s also tracks from some older Hottest Party games and some new ones made just for the game. There honestly wasn’t a single song in the game I didn’t mind dancing to, and that’s the first time that has ever happened with me and a DDR game.
The announcers (there are three different ones as the game has spliced some bits in from the previous Hottest Party games) are fun and never annoyed me. They do like to state the name of the song you picked though, as if you don’t have any short term memory.
Honestly, all I want to do is rave here about the quality of the selection. Where Hottest Party 1 had a pretty poor selection across the board, Hottest Party 3 has the best I can think of out of the two dozen or so DDR titles I’ve played over the past decade. If you’re even remotely a fan of DDR, this is the one to get.
Oh oh oh oh oh. Oh oh oh oh. Oh oh oh oh oh. The Right Stuff.
Sound Rating: Unparalleled
4. Control and Gameplay
As usual I tend to prefer to play the game without the gimmicks like the Randomizer and such simply because I prefer to play DDR as an exercise supplement. The pad that came with the game looks exactly like my HP1 and my HP2 pad, although it does seem to have a noticeable decrease in the detection of the left arrow compared to the older ones. I just chalked it up to a slightly faulty pad though. It happens.
We all know how to play DDR, even if one has never played it. It’s all about stepping on the right arrows at the right times. The better you do, the more points you get. Scores go from E to AAA (My first AAA in this game was Bobby Brown’s, “My Prerogative.”). So instead I’m going to focus on the two bits unique to the Wii version of this game – the hand motions and the balance board bits.
Although the Balance board is an interesting addition. You’re not really playing DDR with it. Rather, it’s more akin to belly dancing as it’s all about proper hip and ass motions. It works quite well and it’s the best use of the Balance Board since Raving Rabbids TV Party with the fine use of ass work in that game. However, this is obviously a novelty and thrown in just because they’re good. It’s cute for a diversion, but few people will do much beyond this besides experimenting. At least the detection is quite solid.
Then there are the hand motions. With Hottest Party 1, there were some obvious detection issues. With Hottest Party 2 these were fixed. With HP3, the general hand motions are still at the level of excellence of the previous game, but they’ve adding something new and the detection on this bit simply isn’t that good. This involves flicking. The good thing is that when the arrow comes up you can use either the Wiimote or nunchuck to flick in the direction of the arrow, giving you a better chance of success. The downside is that not only does it have detection issues, but the first few times you try them, you find the picture on the screen doesn’t quite match what it wants you to do.
Here’s an example. Where there is a finger on the arrow, you’re supposed to flick in that direction. So if there is an up arrow with a finger on it, you actually just flick the joystick of choice upwards not towards the up arrow on the pad. Same with the down arrow. Flick it actually down, not behind towards the down arrow on the pad. Left and right work just fine, but there is an added issue with the flicking up or down. The game will immediately register a flick down after you flick up or vice versa due to the law of motion. This means if you have three or more arrows that rapidly want you to flick it upwards, the game will probably miss at least one due to the detection of it going down. After all, you have to return the joysticks to the default position to register the next beat. I mean, you can’t go up, than up, and than up yet again. So there are some obvious bugs to be worked out with this idea and to be honest, I’d rather see it eliminated all together. Thankfully you can eventually toggle this off.
Still, the non hand motion parts work perfectly as always and this is one annoying thing that can be controlled once you unlock the option to control gimmicks. Another solid outing by Konami here.
Control and Gameplay Rating: Good
With more songs than the previous Hottest Party games, and more modes and options than any DDR game ever, even the biggest DDR fanatic is going to find themselves spending a lot of time here just trying to do everything one can. Again, I’ve spent about a dozen hours with the game and I’m still getting things unlocked. That’s amazing.
This just might be Konami’s best DDR game ever.
Replayability Rating: Unparalleled
As I mentioned earlier, the difficulty seems to be ramped up a little bit, especially in tournament mode. I was able to beat all of Hottest Party 2‘s version of this with only one or two stumbles. Hottest Party 3, however, made me its bitch. At one point in free mode I triggered the first dance battle and the CPU just shredded me. Of course, it was really the song that beat me, but hey. The harder songs, especially on higher difficulty, really do make you work for a B or higher, and yet the easier songs are amongst the easiest I’ve ever played in DDR. It’s a very strange dichotomy and people new to DDR will probably be put off by the steep rise in difficulty instead of a smoother transition.
Still, this makes the game great for newcomers to DDR as well as long time veterans. There will always be something to challenge you here, which is good, and with the long list of songs and the constant unlocking of new things will make you want to get better at the game instead of wade in the shallow end of the pool with the easier songs.
Balance Rating: Decent
Konami really pulled out all the stops with Hottest Party 3. This version of DDR has always been the most innovative of the various lines Konami has put out over the years, but this version in particular has a lot of new innovations, modes and ways to play.
At the same time, this is still DDR, so a good chunk of the game is the same as it’s always been. You can still see that the game is just the HP1 engine with a few new things tacked on. With a lot of the visuals and voice-overs coming from that two year old game, it’s easy to think Konami cut corners in a few places. That’s not the case, but I can see how people may come to that conclusion.
Call it a thumbs in the middle as for every new innovation the game has, a good chunk of the game is the same as it’s always been, albeit with a new track listing.
Originality Rating: Mediocre
As this is easily the best DDR game I’ve ever played I was pretty sucked into this. I really loved the constant onslaught of unlockables as it was a great reward to keep playing. I’d be like, “Oh, just another song.” Then an hour later, I’d still be playing.
The fact the music selection ranges from hilariously cheesy to face paced and frantic really helps keep someone playing longer. Honestly, people are going to want to see their friends stop, collaborate, and listen for the sheer comedy value. It’s just good hearted fun. Then for the people who take DDR as SERIOUS BUSINESS, you have some of the hardest songs I’ve ever seen in a DDR set. Either way, whoever picks this up will be playing it for quite some time. There’s so much here and your legs will probably give out before your desire does.
Addictiveness Rating: Good
9. Appeal Factor
A lot of people claim that third party Wii games don’t sell well. That’s simply untrue. The best third party games get an audience and then sequels. Ubisoft’s Raving Rabbids series is an example, while DDR Hottest Party is another. My review of the second game is one of our most read reviews of all time, which designates that there is still life in DDR, but that DDR for the Wii in particular has a glut of interested gamers.
Hottest Party 3 fits the Wii demographic perfectly. It appeals to casual and hardcore gamers. It appeals to gamers with a wide range of skill. It’s family friendly and a great way to get parents and kids gaming together. It’s fun at parties or by yourself. It’s one of those games that anyone can enjoy as long as they’re not super self-conscious.
If you have a Wii, this is the version of DDR to get. Even if you have multiple systems, both current generation or older, this is still the version to get.
Appeal Factor: Very Good
There’s one thing I really like about this game…and one thing I really hate. I love that much like Hottest Party 2 unlocked everything in your Hottest Party 1 save, HP3 does the same thing for your HP2 save. This is a nice way to reward fans of the franchise and also a way to help people who love the games but aren’t AA or AAA level players. Awesome job Konami.
On the other hand, I am really disappointed in Konami for only releasing this to stores as a bundle with a gamepad. HP3 costs $70 this way. What if you already have a pad from HP1 and HP2? Then you’ve got one or even two extra pads for your Wii. If you were into multi-player DDR, you probably purchased the extra pads by now. If you were REALLY into DDR, you might even have the pads from the Disney themed games or even the Mario DDR for the Nintendo Game Cube. So by forcing this game to be in a bundle at stores like Gamestop or Amazon, Konami is also forcing gamers to spend more money and have surplus pads. Don’t get me wrong, I think selling Hottest Party 3 is a bundle is the way to go, as it lets newcomers get a pad and a game at a reasonable price. Especially as the previous HP bundles go for over $100 these days. However, if the ONLY way you can buy the game is in a bundle, you’re also punishing the loyal fans of the franchise. That’s not cool. Bad Konami.
The only place I’ve seen the game for sale outside of the bundle is at ddrgame.com, but they’re selling the game by itself for $60, or only ten dollars less than the pad, so I’d recommend just doing the bundle. At least you’ll have a backup in case your main one dies.
As I said, one very good thing is balanced out by one very bad thing.
Miscellaneous Rating: Mediocre
Control and Gameplay: Good
Appeal Factor: Very Good
FINAL SCORE: GOOD GAME!
Short Attention Span Summary
Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party 3 is the best version of DDR I’ve ever played. Not only is the track listing amazing, but there are several new modes including an all balance board version of DDR that it as odd as it is amusing. The only two negative things I can say about this game are that the graphics are pretty terrible and it’s really disappointing that Konami has only released this in a bundle with a DDR Pad instead of letting gamers have the choice to buy the bundle or just the game disc. Selling it only in a bundle forces gamers who already have one or more pads to spend more money than they need to and also clutter up their home with extra pads. Even though I’m really enjoying Hottest Party 3, I can’t recommend it at the $70 price tag if you’ve already got the pads from HP1 and HP2.