Review: Dance Dance Revolution (PS3)

Title: Dance Dance Revolution
Format: Blu-ray
Release Date: November 16, 2010
Publisher: Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc.
Developer: Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc.
Original MSRP: $39.99
ESRB: E10+
Extras: PlayStation Move Compatible

I’ve played the Wii version of Dance Dance Revolution with my children, as well as tried the demo of Dance Central for the Xbox 360 Kinect Motion Sensor and have arrived at an indisputable fact –  I cannot dance to save my life.  Aside from an occasional slow dance with my wife of 15 years anything with even a hint of groove I resemble a primate recently shot with a tranquilizer – I’m confused, week-kneed and mostly light-headed.  Although I didn’t receive many trophies during this experiment in awkwardness, I certainly should get an A for effort.

Dance Dance Revolution has been around long enough, and has had enough iterations, that explaining in any great detail what the game is about would be both an insult to you, dear PS Nation reader, as well as a waste of my time writing.  Whether jammin’ to the latest techno or getting crazy to some Disney remixes, the gameplay is consistent through and through – match the symbols on screen with the symbols of the dance mat that you’re standing on.  It sounds simple enough.  So why do my feet get so tangled up in the process?

One of the best things about the PlayStation 3 Dance Dance Revolution mat when compared to the Wii version is the overall size of the mat itself.  Upon first glance it appeared to nearly double in size which, in the long run, makes for a much easier game – or, in my case, I was tripping over my feet less than normal.  Also a big improvement over its Wii counterpart was the responsiveness of the dance mat.  Where I found myself once slamming my feet down to register each dance move I now merely had to tap to get things started.  It was a pleasant surprise to an impression that was previously muddled with inaccurate controls.

Dance Dance Revolution is all about the various modes.  Spread evenly between Free Play (choose any song), Club (song mix beginning with 4 and leveling off at 20), Dance Off (DDR’s version of multiplayer) and the highlight of the PS3’s Dance Dance Revolution – Move & Step (combining rapid foot movement with wildly flailing arms with the help of the PS3 Move controller).  Move & Step was the Mode that I spent the most time with as I felt it was the one that singled out this version over all the others currently available on the market.  It also resulted in the greatest amount of fun.

Move & Step allows the player to include the PS3 Move Controller while sidestepping to the groove-a-tron of Lady Gaga.  On screen focus is now spread between matching your footsteps (front, back, left, right) and matching the Move controller with the circular targets in each corner of the screen.  Not only does this mode require a bit more set-up – ensuring your body is in the best alignment with the PlayStation Eye and within an adequate distance from the TV – but it also mixes things up just enough to increase the difficulty level.

Speaking of difficulty I was pleased to see that every Free Play song chosen allowed for 1 of 4 possible difficulty settings: Beginner, Basic, Difficult and Expert.  Also within each difficulty level, based on the chosen song, some songs are more or less difficult than others.  Each level has a set number of bars associated with it.  While a song like the aforementioned Lady Gaga might represent 3 bars when played on Basic, The B-52’s idea of a Basic-level song might only equate to 2 bars.

As much fun as I had with using the Move Controller it was also the biggest failure of the game.  Unless I was completely missing it the Move & Step mode (the only mode that accommodated the Move controller) only allows 1 Move controller per player.  Initially this wasn’t such a big deal until the difficulty increases.  Because the Move targets are spread to the 4 corners of the screen I found myself struggling, as a right-handed person, to reach the top left and bottom left corners with any amount of consistency or accuracy.  There’s no question that having a Move controller in each hand would have resulted in easier gameplay as well as replicate more natural dance movements.

At the conclusion of each song you’re rated based on how well you performed.  As might be expected, this rating isn’t as simple as how many steps or Move targets were hit but how well.  Rated between Perfect, Great, Good or Miss these statistics are all accounted for and tallied up for a final grade of A, B, C or D.  I was impressed, once again, with the accuracy of the the dance mat and how responsive it was.

How Dance Dance Revolution looks was obviously less of a concern than all the other aspects of this game.  I would not have expected much in the way of visuals.  So long as I could read the Groove Gauge and judge when, where and how the next dance move was the be performed I would have been fine.  Still, taking advantage of the PlayStation Eye, Konami took it one step further (get it? one step further?) and added in a fair amount of visual effects to give an even greater illusion of living the disco life.

Trading in Disney characters and Avatars for an on-screen outline of the player I found the in-game visuals to jump between instances of the Matrix code to acid-induced trails prompted by the rapid movements of the Move controller.  In other words, it more than appropriately fit the pumping bass of the music selections and made me think that the only thing missing was a healthy dose of Ecstasy.

Where the visual style of Dance Dance Revolution was entertaining the game succeeds and fails primarily with the variety of the song selection.  Too much hip-hop and not enough techno might turn the dancing masses away.  From my limited experience and preference for that style of music (I’m more of a Prog-Rock kinda guy) Dance Dance Revolution for the PlayStation 3 included a good variety of licensed tracks.  Here are a few to consider:

  • Animal (Ke$ha)
  • Bad Romance (Lady Gaga)
  • Celebration (Kool and the Gang)
  • Dancing in the Streets (Martha and the Vandellas)
  • I’m Yours (Jason Mraz)
  • Love Shack (The B-52s)
  • Need You Now (Lady Antebellum)
  • Rio (Duran Duran)
  • So Fine (Sean Paul)

There’s enough variety to satisfy most music and dance aficionados.  In addition to what is delivered with the retail copy of Dance Dance Revolution there is also a plethora of downloadable tracks, greatest hits and premium packs to keep even the most enthusiastic of gaming dancers on their  toes for many a night to come.

While the extent of Dance Dance Revolution’s Online functionality only includes Facebook and You Tube integration for that added bonus of social interaction, the multiplayer is reserved solely for the same room where the game is being played.  Due to the fact that multiplayer for DDR requires multiple dance mats I was unable to really test this feature.  Based on the size of an individual dance mat I think it’s safe to say that if you have the capacity for multiplayer make damn sure you’ve got the room for it as well.  Otherwise, stick with the single mat and take turns embarrassing friends and family alike.

Aside from a fairly substantial oversight regarding the much-needed inclusion of being allowed to use more than a single Move Controller, Dance Dance Revolution for the PlayStation 3 is a decent addition for all gaming music lovers and those who enjoy hosting the occasional gaming party.  Much like Rock Band, Dance Dance Revolution is best reserved for a group of people to play.  Although fun on your own, the appeal of these types of games is in the banter and competitiveness that ensues when a group gathers to indulge in the awkwardness that is Dance Dance Revolution.


Written by Bill Braun

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