Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party 2
Release Date: 9/18/2008
Last year around this time I reviewed the first Hottest Party. It was the first DDR for the Wii and I had a lot of fun with it. In the past I’ve never really been into dance games, with Pump it Up: Exceed being the best in the genre I had played up to that point. Hottest Party 1 however allowed me to use my hands and offered a lot of interesting modes, which quickly made it my preferred rhythm-based video game.
The second Hottest Party is very similar to the first, and yet in many ways different. DDR games are, for the most party, cookie cutter games that live and die by the quality of the songs and the new modes added to the game. Does this second installment of Hottest Party hold up, or should Wii owners just stick with the first one?
Almost all the modes are exactly the same from the previous game with a few exceptions.
1. Groove Arena Mode. This is a quest like/RPG-esque mode where you must clear arenas of various challenges. There are three parts to every arena. The first is dancing songs of your choice with a certain clarifier needed in order to move on. The second is a specific song that you will have to pass with the same specific challenges from the last round. The nice thing is that this one song is an unlockable, so if you beat it, you get a new piece to add to the other modes. The third and final stage of each arena is a boss battle where you must outperform the computerized opponent. If you beat this, you get another unlockable song, a new arena to clear, and so other nifty stuff. This is the only way to unlock stuff, and it’s fun, but at times frustrating as some of the goals are pretty intense and not for a casual DDR player. I mean, I can get AA scores on a few songs, but that’s probably my limit.
2. Free Play Mode is just picking any song you want from the list you currently have and trying to achieve a high score. Groove Arena and Free Play are the ONLY modes that record your score, so keep that in mind when you hit that 91 step combo in Training Mode and then it is lost forever.
3. Workout Mode is once again underwhelming. You just set a caloric goal and dance until the game tells you that you reached your goal for the day. I suppose if this is the ONLY exercise you are doing it is okay, but really, the game should be recording your caloric loss along with your score in the other modes. What if you want both?
4. Training Mode is just that.
5. Dance and Defend is the only new mode added, and to be honest, it sucks. Remember how everyone bitched and moaned about the awfulness of the “Boss Battles” in Guitar Hero III? Well this is pretty much the same thing, but with dancing. It was boring, and relies far too much on annoying gimmicks. I can promise you that I will never touch this again as you get no rewards, scores, or caloric watching from it.
6. Records. Nuff said.
7. Options. We’ll cover this more in balance, but holy crap is this the most customizable DDR I’ve ever played. I was very happy with all the options open to me. Really, the options alone make this the most accessible DDR I’ve ever played and it will make this easier to play with my friends who are pretty much DDR virgins.
In all, we have one new mode, but all are still pretty lackluster compared to what else is out there in the DDR universe. I’ll pretty much be sticking to Free Play and Groove Arena as nothing else is worth touching.
Modes Rating: Poor
The first Hottest Party was NOT visually attractive. With HP2, it appears the graphics have slid back a little more. Your characters, the dancers, the background stages/dance halls and everything else are positively ugly. We’re talking PSX level graphics here. Ouch.
It gets worse with the addition of music videos to some songs, which was something other DDR games have done for years now. The problem is that with songs like “Bust a Move,” the video is far too distracting for the arrows, and at times it can even be hard to see them. Huge disappointment here. Even more so with the inability to turn the videos off.
The new bit of graphics is that you can integrate Miis with Hottest Party 2. All this really means is that you can put a Mii head on a DDR character body. You have a choice of two. This means I got to see Adolf Hitler’s head on a skanky crystal meth chick’s body dancing to “Tootsie Roll.” I am forever scarred.
Most people don’t play DDR for the visuals, so this is a pretty unimportant category in the scheme of things. Still, this game is pretty ugly.
Graphics Rating: Bad
This has to be the worst collection of DDR songs I’ve heard in a long time. Who was clamoring for “Black or White” by Michael Jackson? Or yet another game featuring “Walking on Sunshine” or “I want Candy?” The first Hottest Party had a lot of tracks I really liked and some I even sought out to download to my Ipod after heading them. Here though? None of these songs are ones you would ever hear in a club. Okay the remix of “I Ran” by Flock of Seagulls might be heard in a bad goth club, but that’s about it.
I was really disappointed here by the track selection and how the best songs are by Young MC, Simple Minds, and The Go-Go’s. Once again the Wii is boned compared to the PS2 DDR that came out the same day.
Music Rating: Poor
4. Control and Gameplay
Although the game has gotten uglier and the music has taken a turn for the worse, the game has really cleaned up the controls here. In the first Hottest Party, There were times where the game would have trouble recognizing the hand controls, which are unique to the Wii DDR series. Sure you could turn that option off, but it nets you a better score if you use that option. I’m happy to say this time recognition of the Wiimote and Numchuk is greatly improved and as such, you don’t have to give yourself wrist strain trying to make the game notice your arm movements.
Other than that, the game plays like every other DDR game out there. You jump on the pad according to the arrows, and you are awarded points for how in time with the steps, jumps and arm movements you are. There are “gimmicks” in the game as well, but I tend to turn these off as I don’t find them as fun. These gimmicks including things that obscure the arrows, arrows getting flip flopped around so an “Up” arrow shows up in the “right” slot and more. These gimmicks are definitely more for the hardcore DDR veteran and will only serve to frustrate a casual gamer or newcomer.
I love the dance pads that come with the Wii versions of the game. After having played DDR on the PS2, Gamecube, and Xbox, I can definitely say the Wii’s mat has the highest quality. It does slip around a bit when you’re on the harder songs, even if you have a hard floor, so look into a way to hold it down.
I was very happy with the actual gameplay here and was happy to see how Konami has taken the time to make improvements over my complaints on the previous version. I still have the occasional issue with the numchuk (left) hand and find the gimmicks both annoying and distracting, but Hottest Party 2 is a solid game through and through.
Control and Gameplay Rating: Classic
There is a lot to do in Hottest Party 2 but it’s hard to imagine much of the game getting used. Training Mode? Why? Do you really want to watch the characters just dance or to play DDR without any reward? No thanks. Dance and Defend? It’s annoying, poorly thought out and it’s exactly like the most hated aspect of Guitar Hero 3.
Arena Mode eventually gets too hard for all but the most zealous of DDR players, which makes it frustrating for newcomers and all but impossible to unlock everything. In the end, HP2 becomes something you do for a short burst of time until you unlock as much as you can, and then it will sit until those rare occasions where you and your friends decide to give it a shot and be amused by how good/bad you are at the game.
Will all those negatives in mind, there is still a lot to do in Hottest Party 2. Much like an old school video game, you play to better yourself and your high score. The game is a lot of fun, even with the oft-kilter musical tracks, and with all the options and customization within this newest chapter of the DDR series, you can still devote a lot of time to this title, regardless of skill level.
Replayability Rating: Above Average
I’m still amazed at all the options put into this game. You can turn on/off freeze arrows, hand claps, the hand motions, the assorted gimmicks, the speed of the game, guideline bars, hand claps, the metronome feature, the sense of timing of the game and more. With a little testing, you can basically create the DDR that you want to play or even the DDR that is best for your current skill level.
As always there is a wide range of song, each with its own level of difficulty. Even better, you can shift that level of difficulty for each song, so you can play say, “Everybody Dance” on the highest possible setting and then play “REACH THE SKY (Orbit1 remix)” at beginner. It’s all about letting you play a song at the level that feels right for you. In this respect Hottest Party 2 is arguably the best DDR I’ve played and Bemani (When did that become a development branch for Konami rather than a catch all name for these types of games?) has made this incredibly accessible to newbies.
Balance Rating: Unparalleled
For the most part this game is a “Roster Update.” Much like a Madden, WWE, or assorted sports title, there is little to no change from last year as the majority of the game is EXACTLY the same as the first Hottest Party which is mostly the same as every DDR game put out since the series began. There is little in the way of originality or innovation, but there’s still a degree of it,as they are trying new options and a new mode.
It’s not rock bottom in terms of originality, but it is close. Still, if DDR fans wanted originality, the game wouldn’t sell as well as it does across all platforms.
Originality Rating: Dreadful
The first night I received this game I played it for two hours straight. Then I worked out and played it for two hours more. The next day I did four hours. Day three was me nursing my calves. Once you get decent at DDR, it becomes incredibly addicting. You start to memorize patterns and position your body in advance for complicated movements. You start playing even songs you would never listen to outside of the game, simply to see how well you do. It’s a great little supplement to my work out, especially on days when I am especially antsy or energized.
For people new to the game though, DDR can be unforgiving, even with two newbie training pieces. It’s a matter of getting the rhythm, and making sure your body is positioned so you can actually reach the back step instead of just touching the tail end of the arrow (This seems to be the big complaint I always hear with people new to DDR, and I think we all suffer from it at times.).
Regardless, DDR is one of the most successful video game franchises of all time, and for people to pay full price several times a year for the same game, just with different tracks, is a testament to how sucked in people can get.
Addictiveness Rating: Great
9. Appeal Factor
DDR has an exceptionally zealous fanbase. It’s no Castlevania or Silent Hill in terms of Konami’s biggest titles, but it’s certainly up there. DDR is one of the few things keeping arcades alive in the United States and that alone is a testament to its popularity.
However, due to the physical nature of the game, it’s not for everyone. Some people don’t want to think or move when playing a game. They want to blow things up or look at cutting edge graphics or just sit on their butt with a controller in one hand and a beer in the other. Those gamers won’t enjoy DDR, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you’re not a physically active person, you probably won’t like DDR. It’s that cut and dry. With Hottest Party some longtime DDR fans who fear change probably will take issue with the hand motions, but at least you can choose to turn them off if you’re that scared of moving your arms.
Appeal Factor: Good
I was greeted by a very pleasant surprise when I popped in this game. As soon as I turned it on, it unlocked everything possible in the first Hottest Party. How cool is that? That’s a great reward for those of us who are masters at the game, and it ensures loyalty with the Wii versions of the game.
Besides that though, there’s a lot of songs to unlock, computerized opponents to beat, and if you have the desire and spare cash, you can always buy more mats and have a DDR Dance off. I wouldn’t recommend this unless you AND your friends are really into this game. Otherwise it is just wasted money.
Overall, I’m happy with Hottest Party 2, even if I find it to be a step below the original. I’d recommend getting HP1 first and then eventually getting this as a supplement if you liked the first.
That said I’m sure I’ll end up buying the third installment in late 2009, regardless of song content. DDR is a fun and catchy series, and it’s nice to see Konami making it a permanent fixture on the Wii.
Miscellaneous Rating: Above Average
Control and Gameplay: Classic
Replayability: Above Average
Appeal Factor: Good
Miscellaneous Rating: Above Average
FINAL SCORE: Above Average Game
Short Attention Span Summary
Dance Dance Revolution: Hottest Party 2 is neither a revolution nor the hottest party for the Wii. It’s a half step down from the first game in this series, but if you liked the first one and want a few new tracks to play through, HP2 is a worthy purchase. If you already have a variant of DDR for another console, there’s no point in making a $70 purchase for the Wii. If you’re new to the series, HP2 is the most accessible title in the franchise I’ve ever played and is far more forgiving than its Xbox and Playstation cousins. If you’re going to start to dance the night away, this is probably your best option.