Review: Dance Dance Revolution: Hottest Party (Nintendo Wii)

Dance Dance Revolution: Hottest Party Mix
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Genre: Bemani
Date Release; 09/26/2007

You know, I have to admit I’ve never been a big fan of DDR. This is partly because I exercise a lot in real life and go clubbing regularly, so it seemed silly to play a video game that combines two things I do regularly already. After all, gaming was an escape, not a second rate version of what I do in my daily life. If I wanted that kind of experience from a console, I’d play Shenmue. That and I just felt silly playing it in the arcade.

Somewhere along the line, though I started to have fun with it. Not to the level, and certainly not the skill, of the bemani zealots like old IP’er Alex Williams, but enough that I would play it on occasion and enjoy it. Oddly enough he enjoyment came from reviewing games. Since I’m pretty much pegged as an RPG/Shooter/2-D fighter gamer, it was nice to step out of my box with dance games like Pump It Up and DDR Ultramix 3. Now that the other Alex is gone, it falls to me to review the newest version of this game for the Wii. I chose this over DDR Supernova 2 for the PS2 mainly to see how it would interact with the Wiimote and the like. I was a bit worried about the music selection for this game, and SN2 has one of my favorite songs of all time (Faster Kill Pussycat), but I’ll go for innovation over a single song anyday. That and Supernova too got panned by most of my friends who really like DDR.

So, how is the umpteenth entry into the DDR series? Does the added gameplay make DDR even better, or are you glad you can have the option to play “Classic” style? Is it worth the $70 price tag, or are you going to have to wait until Guitar Hero III to see if there’s a good rhythm game for Nintendo’s current console?

Let’s Review

1. Modes

There are three main modes for Hottest party, with multiple breakdowns for each.

The first is the Groove Circuit Mode. Here the mode is broken into multiple venues, each again with various stages. The breakdown for each is to complete 3-4 songs within a certain parameter. Once you’ve cleared that you’ll have to play a new song. If you can beat that, it will be unlocked in free play mode. From there you’ll have a dance battle again the computer. In this dance battle, both you and a computer controlled character will play a new song that was previously unavailable. If you get a higher score and letter rating, the venue will be cleared, this song will be unlocked, along with some other options.

The second is Free Play Mode. Here’s you’ll just be able to play from all the songs you’ve unlocked. Think of it as a simple quick play mode.

Finally there is Workout mode. Here it tracks your calorie burning and adds fitness goals to your dance routines.

Beyond that, there’s variations you can play in any of the modes. Friendship has you and up to three other friends doing a teamwork DDR match. Multi Style pits you against your friends instead of working with them, and Sync Style (which is new to me) is a DDR meeting synchronized swimming. One mistake and your entire team loses, so this is certainly for the more advanced or hardcore DDR’ers.

There’s a lot to do, but the modes are a little sparse compared to other DDR games. As well, the Workout mode is weak compared to other DDR home versions I’ve played through. I realize the Wii isn’t as powerful as the PS3 or 360, but even Supernova 2 has more songs and options, and that’s for the PS2. It’s a bit of a disappointment there.

In the end it’s a decent first effort for the Wii, but when compared to all that you can do in other DDR games, it falls a little short.

Modes Rating: 5/10

2. Graphics

Highly disappointing here. No music videos. Just bad graphical dancers that could have been done of the PSX. Again, it appears the Wii got the short end of the stick here.

The character designs are pretty ugly, and the graphics are stiled and jaggy. You don’t really play DDR for the visuals though, and if you do, that’s well…that’s just plain weird.

Not much to say here. It’s one of the uglier DDR games I’ve seen for a home release since the very first versions of the game. Come on Konami, just because it’s your first time programming for it doesn’t mean you should skimp. Especially as the Wii is the system of choice for the current generation of consoles for most gamers.

Poor game to look at, but it’s still fun to play.

Graphics Rating: 4/10

3. Sound

Man, I actually enjoyed this game a lot, but writing the reviewing and being forced to actually critique it is showing me a lot of issues I didn’t even realize I had with the game. Sound is one of them. And it’s a big one. If a reviewer is having issues with songs in a DDR Game, that’s never a good sign for the edition.

In a nutshell, this is one of the worst collections of songs for a DDR game I’ve seen in a long time. Many of them are quite slow, and the usual techno-dancey weird fun tracks that you wouldn’t hear outside of a DDR game are non-existent in this version. Hottest Party has a lot of very slow tracks and for some reason, a large portion of the songs are 60’s and 70’s disco tracks. I’ll admit the Goth in me was happy to see “Blue Monday” and “You Spin me Round,” but besides those I found myself really longing for the tracks in Supernova 2 or even one of the Ultramixes for the Xbox.

Again, the game is still fun. The new options and gimmicks help to make DDR: Hottest Party enjoyable. It’s just that the tracks aren’t too hot and the songs that would normally be good have been remixed, and not for the better. Did the world really need an even SLOWER version of “Summertime” by the Fresh Prince?

As with the previous categories, the music is decent, but it fails to impress and when held up to other DDR games, it just doesn’t hold up to well.

Also, thank you for allowing me to turn off the annoying talking guy while you’re dancing. God, i think everyone hates him.

Sound Rating: 6/10

4. Control and Gameplay

You should know the majority of controls for a DDR game by now, even if you’ve never played one. Basically you step on the corresponding arrow in beat with the song. There’s a couple of new twists though. The big one is the addition of the Wiimote. Sometimes the left and right arrows will be Wiimote symbols. In this case you don’t take a step on the pad. You shake either the Wiimote (right) or the numchuk (left) to the beat. You’ll need to do it a bit harder than you do in other Wii games like Wii Sports, but after a few takes with this new twist, it’ll come naturally to you.

The gimmicks are another interesting addition, although I will admit I prefer to play with them off. These include things like a double step, where you’ll have to step on the pad twice quickly for one arrow instead of the usual one. There’s a mystery arrow that will slide across the screen and turn directions right up until when you actually need to step on. This requires split second timing, and is obviously for the more advanced gamer. It’s fun on occasion, but I can see multiple ones of these occurring to be very frustrating to someone new to the series. There are other gimmicks, and each one does add something new to DDR. If there was ever a series that needed a breath of fresh air, this was it. Again, the gimmicks will be more enjoyed by the more hardcore fans of the series, while newcomers will just want to get past a normal game of DDR without getting a D or E.

The pad that comes with the Hottest Party bundle is great. It’s one of the best pads I’ve seen boxed with a DDR game. It’s pretty sensitive and it holds up no matter what type of floor you have it on, or what your feet are encased in, if anything. If I had any complaint it’s that I wish the back arrow on the pad had a larger range of detection, but that’s more my style of play than anything with the pad itself.

In all, Konami did a great job with Hottest Party here, and gameplay is the real reason to play DDR, with everything else (Save possibly the track listings) being secondary.

Control and Gameplay Rating: 8/10

5. Replayability

Multiple options? Check. Fifty songs? Check. A career mode that really tests your ability? Check. The ability to play with multiple friends at once? Check. DDR, regardless of how many versions there are, or even at its worst, offers a great deal of replay value across the board. The only thing I can say is that it can probably get old to people who can’t get things unlocked. That’s more a balance issue.

Hottest Party could have used a few more songs that weren’t locked to begin with, and another mode or two, but what’s here will be great, especially as many of the people picking up the WII are either new to gamers, casual gamers, or people returning to gaming after a long drought. What’s here will no doubt keep them happy for a long time.

Replayability Rating: 8/10

6. Balance

DDR Hottest Party is an odd mix because it is obviously geared for people new to Bemani, yet a lot of the new options and missions in the game are geared for long time veteran players. This will no doubt frustrate a lot of gamers. I mean, I’m not great at the game. I can gets A’s and B’s and I suck on the highest difficulty levels, but when I’m getting an A on a song and the computer opponent is getting a C and it somehow has more points than me at the end so we draw and I have to do a Dance Battle to clear a venue for the 12th time in a row, that gets pretty frustrating. It also doesn’t make any sense. How can a C performance have more points than an A one? Crazy crazy.

The gimmicks are fun, but as I mentioned earlier, they certainly aren’t for people new to the genre.

Thankfully DDR has a nice sliding difficulty and this version lets you turn off gimmicks and even the hand movements if you just want to play a “classic” version of the game. You can really customize your gaming experience, which means no matter what your skill level is, you can have fun with Hottest party. Just remember to amp up the difficulty on occasion so you can get better,

Balance Rating: 7/10

7. Originality

If it was any other DDR game out there, this score would be nearly non-existent. It’s up there with Street Fighter or Madden as a series that is consistently shoved out with little to no changes, yet still has a full 49.99 price tag. In Hottest party’s case it’s 69.99 for yet another DDR game. That’s a little crazy to me, but as it is the first version for the Wii I can let it slide this once.

Thanks to the new controls and gimmicks, and an enjoyable career mode, Hottest Party is the kick ot the DDR series that was really needed. Hopefully with HP2 we’ll see better tracks, more modes and a lot more to do with the Wii’s motion controls.

Sure, DDR might not be the most innovative or original series out there. God knows even with the wiimote controls, Hottest Party is basically DDR’s answer to Pump it Up as DDR now lets you use your hands. This is still a step in the right direction and hopefully we’ll see more of this type of effort from Koanmi instead of forcing people to buy a $50 game that is pretty much the same as the year before it.

Originality Rating: 5/10

8. Appeal Factor

Look, DDR is fun. I was one of those people that didn’t play for the longest time because I was afraid I had no rhythm or that I’d look like a tool. Here’s the thing though: You WILL look like a tool. EVERYONE who plays looks like one. The difference is you should be able to get over it and have fun. No one is expecting that you break out the moves you use on the dance pad to be what you use on an actual dance floor. It’s just meant to be funny and silly.

DDR is great exercise as well. I run several miles every day, but this weekend I played four+ hours straight of DDR and my calves killed me the next morning. If you haven’t played, you’ll be surprised at how much fun this can be at parties, even with non gamers. Especially with non gamers who are a mite bit tipsy. Gaming needs to be more about fun for anyone who picks up a controller, or in this case, steps on the pad, and regardless of the version DDR accomplishes that. So what if it’s ugly or that most of the songs in Hottest Party would never find it onto my Itunes or a CD Player. It’s still FUN.

You can’t go wrong with having some version of DDR for the occasional party. It might as well be the WII as it’s party game central. Raving Rabbids + Hottest Party + Wii Sports + Carnival games is guaranteed to turn a non gamer into a Wii owner.

Appeal Factor: 8/10

9. Addictiveness

Okay, DDR can be addictive, but its difficulty and the fact most gamers are rather sedimentary people to begin with, makes it hard for the average person to play this game for extending periods. There’s a reason why most arcade DDR versions let you pick three songs per play. I will admit to being an idiot for putting in 3-5 hours on this game a day, but it was to get the review out. I also get into a game pretty easily when given a strong challenge. Years of Gradius, R-Type and Ikargua will do that to a gamer. Most people can’t play DDR for for than 15-30 minutes at a stretch and no matter how fun this game can be, it kills its addictiveness. Sure, it’s the fault of the gamer for being out of shape, but when you have to walk away from a game because you just candidate’s can’t get a A rating, and the game is forcing you to in order to lock a song, that’s going to drive the majority of gamers away.

In the end, even the big Bemani gamers out there who live, eat, sleep and poop these type of games will tell people not to play it for extended periods of time unless you’re in pretty good shape. Listen to them. This is one of those times where a low addictiveness rating is probably a good thing. DDR is bets played in short spurts.

Addictiveness Rating: 6/10

10. Miscellaneous

So in the end, how does this game stand up? I’d say its a good purchase for the Wii, regardless of your genre of choice. DDR is a perfect mesh with the Wii, as both are known for the ability to get gamers to exercise. It’s just a shame Konami didn’t do more with this or push this version even harder and load it up. Instead I’ve seen the PS2 version get more attention, which is a shame considering it6s a generation behind.

Still, I had a good time with Hottest party and I don’t see it ever leaving my collection. There will always be something new to do with it, and I’ll happily bust it out at parties or for the once a month club night I help out with. Like a lot of the games for the Wii, what’s here is cute and fun. In the end, its all you need.

Miscellaneous Rating: 7/10
The Scores
Modes: 5/10
Graphics: 4/10
Sound: 6/10
Control & Gameplay: 8/10
Replayability: 8/10
Balance: 7/10
Originality: 5/10
Addictiveness: 6/10
Appeal Factor: 8/10
Miscellaneous: 7/10
Total Score: 64/100

Final Score: 6.5/10 (Above Average)

Short Attention Span Summary
Don’t let the “low” score fool you, Hottest Party is an enjoyable purchase. The music certainly wasn’t to my liking compared to previous games, but then I’m not the target audience. I’m a casual (rare) Bemani gamer and I’m no expert on the genre. What I’ve found in reviewing this game is that it is a fun but flawed first attempt for the the DDR series on the WII. Let’s hope the second has a bit more depth. Not to Konami since you love my name so much, GWAR, Sisters of Mercy, or the hidden remix song on the PSX version of Symphony of the Night would rock. Oh, and bring back “Burning Heat” for those of us who still play Gradius games.



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