Preview: Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix (XB)

Game: Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix
System: X-Box
Genre: Music / Rhythm
Developer: Konami of Hawaii (KCEH)
Publisher: Konami of America
Release: US: Thanksgiving 2003
Europe: October 2003 (Dancing Stage Unleashed)

For those who know, Dance Dance Revolution is one of the most addicting experiences that Japan has ever latched onto us. You might have seen the game in the arcades with a bunch of people running and jumping around on a metal stage, literally killing themselves to avoid breaking their combo. You might have seen it at a friend’s house, complete with elaborately Made / purchased pads and a rather interesting import setup. You might think those guys are nuts to invest so much time in a simple arrow-smashing game. I have to say that I’m one of those guys, and I speak for them all when I say I enjoy every minute of it.

With its popularity growing in the states, Konami is taking a leap of faith and releasing an X-Box version of their popular music game. Not only for the hardcore audience (like me), but also for an entirely new group of people. The X-Box base may not be especially geared to the
music/rhythm based genre, but Konami hopes that this game, along with some exclusive X-Box features, will help create a new generation of dance machines!

(NOTE: Before we begin though, its been confirmed there will be NO USE of the X-Box’s custom soundtrack feature. None. Nada. There would be WAY too many problems if it did come about.)

First, we’ll talk about modes. Already confirmed for the game, along with the main game mode, are Workout and Edit Modes, which are staples of home DDR already. Workout Mode (called Diet Mode in Japan) is designed for those who want to play the game and lose weight. A calorie counter replaces the score display, and each step corresponds to a certain amount of calories burned off. If it’s anything like the PS/PS2 versions, there will be varying levels of difficulty (more so than the main game) so that people who want lighter workouts will be happy. New to Workout Mode will be User Profiles that keep track of individual settings.

Edit Mode allows you to build customizable dance steps to your favorite songs. This allows you to give easier steps to songs you thought were to hard, or harder steps to songs you thought were too easy. Or whatever you want, really. It’s your canvas, and Konami’s supplying the paint.

Also confirmed is Challenge Mode, which can also be found on the Japanese 4th Mix and Extra Mix home versions. Challenge Mode gives you a set of special challenges that you must complete, and range from easy to hard. No specific challenges were mentioned as of yet, but they could be Anything ranging from full-comboing a portion of a hard song to playing through a stage without using the Up arrow, and others of that ilk. It’s brand new for the US market, and will provide a brand new puzzle-element to the game that the US hasn’t seen yet.

Battle Mode is another confirmed mode for the game, and it will
support between 1-4 players. Yes, that wasn’t a typo. FOUR PLAYERS on the same screen. Granted the arrows will have to be scrunched down a bit so four people can see what’s going on, but the fact of the matter is that we can have four people playing at the same time now. There will be two different types of battles modes planned. First is the “Score Battle”, in which the highest score after a song wins. Second is “Point Battle”, where each player starts with 16 points. As each step is rated “Perfect”, “Great”, etc., the game will award points to the highest graded step, and remove points from the lower-graded ones. Play continues until there is only one person with points left. An interesting concept, and X-Box exclusive.

Looks so sweet”¦ and it’s just getting started!

As far as in game graphics go, the dancing characters are making a return to this game. If you’ve seen screenshots from the E3 demo, those are NOT representative of the final game. The background animations will be replaced with videos (ala MAX / MAX2 / Extreme), the characters will be cleaned up considerably, and have dancing animations unique to this game. There are reports that there will be some old characters, some new characters never seen before, and some that you’ll be able to download online.

Download online? Did I just say online? Am I implying that the game will make use of X-Box Live?

You bet.

This will be the first DDR game in history to make use of online components. But what will you be able to do online, you wonder? Luckily, that’s What previews are for. Let’s take a look:

–Online Play

Believe it or not, there will be online play for the game. I’m assuming that Versus and Battle modes will make up the majority of the online play (if not all of it). As far as the questions concerning who’s using the controller and who’s using a dance pad, the game will be able to tell. So, cheating will be kept to a minimum. (And yes, there will be X-Box-specific dance pads, which will apparently be sturdier than the Playstation ones.)

–Internet Ranking

Using your game save, you’ll be able to transmit your scores to the Internet and rank yourself with other players across the world. No word as to how many categories there will be, but it’s something new for the US players to toy around with.

-Edit Sharing

You’ll be able to upload the Edit Data you created to the Internet
and download other people’s edits just as easily. New challenges will constantly be at your fingertips!

–Downloadable Content

Perhaps the biggest feature of the X-Box Live! compatibility is the downloadable content. Konami plans to offer two kinds of downloads:
Normal, and Premium. The Normal content will be free, and include new characters and other, yet unnamed features. The Premium content will include new songs to download, and will be REASONABLY priced (according to Konami). Yes, you’ll have to buy new songs, unfortunately. But considering all the new features and modes, it will be worth it. New content will be offered every month after the initial release.

You’re probably wondering why I haven’t discussed the songs yet.
Well, to be honest, it’s up in the air. Any songs that have been mentioned right now will either be part of the game release, or part of the downloadable content. Either way, the game itself will include 55 songs, 10 of which will be licensed. And there will be Ultramix-exclusive songs as well. Here is a list of songs from the E3 demo. Now keep in mind that they will ALL be used, but might not be part of the initial game:

OLD SONGS (From US/Japanese Playstation Games)

Electro Tuned (the SubS Mix) / TaQ

Kind Lady / Okuyatos

Lets Talk it Over / Shin Murayama feat. Argie Phine

Look To The Sky (True Color Mix) / System S.F. feat. Anna

On The Jazz / Johnny Dynamite!

Overblast!! / LED Light

NEW / EXCLUSIVE CONTENT (From Beatmania / Beatmania IIDX)

Keep Your Body Movin’ / Thuggie D

MGS2: Mission R / LED

Mind Parasite / Tomosuke

Quickening / DJ Taka

What Is Love / Tomosuke

So far, this mix looks to be shaping up to be a great one. With
returning favorites and exclusive content, this version is bound to make an impact on the X-Box community. Keep an eye out this August / September when I’ll have an exclusive interview with the head of this project and hopefully obtain more information.

The game is set to be released on or around Thanksgiving 2003.


–CUSTOMIZED SONG LIST: 55 songs to choose from initially, 10 of them being licensed.

–MULTIPLE GAMEPLAY MODES: Game Mode, Workout Mode, Challenge Mode,
and Edit Mode have been confirmed. (Sorry, no Oni mode is planned.)

–X-BOX LIVE! COMPATIBILITY: Connect to the Internet to download new songs and characters, play against people across America, share Edit data,and compare yourself with an Internet ranking system.

–FOUR PLAYER SUPPORT: A first in any DDR game.

–BRAND NEW CHARACTERS: With brand new motion-capture animation exclusive to the X-Box.