Last year I checked out two DDR games (Dance Dance Revolution Konamix (PS) and Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix (GCN)), and even after playing through a third game the series continues to be enjoyable. This time around I picked up DDRMAX Dance Dance Revolution which at its core features the same tried 'n true formula but also adds a greatly expanded soundtrack and freeze arrows, which require you to keep one foot down for a certain length of time, often requiring you to keep your other foot moving at the same time. Compared to Konamix the dance meter is less forgiving in that it drops much more quickly when you make mistakes, but it's also much easier to get an A ranking. In Konamix you had to play pretty much perfectly to get an A rank, but here you can make several mistakes. One of the big pluses in this game is that it shows you your highest ranking and score on the song select screen, unlike Konamix, which buries the info under the main options menu. The game also has a new "oni mode", which is a nonstop mode where you have to clear a set of songs and can only make three mistakes (with one "life" given back to you after a successfully completed song).

A large part of my enjoyment was just due to getting better at the DDR mechanics. I can now keep up with streams of arrows that used to completely tie my legs up into knots, and although I'm still far from being a DDR master, I'm definitely not a n00b anymore either. The visuals are a bit plainer in general in that they don't feature the dancing characters of Konamix, which I'd enjoyed in that game, but that means there are also less distractions in this game. Also, if anyone's following these things, apparently Konamix was based on the 4th generation of DDR games, and this game is from the 6th gen (North America didn't get a version of the 5th gen of games).

Of course you could spend years fully mastering a single DDR game, but I thought I might as well shelve this and move on to the next in the series, uncreatively called DDRMAX2 Dance Dance Revolution. It looks like the main difference in that version is the soundtrack, which includes more non-techno tracks and songs I've actually heard of. I'll have to see if that makes the game more or less fun, but I'm looking forward to continuing to improve my DDR skills and tricking myself into getting some exercise at the same time. ;)

Everybody's watchin' you check out these DDRMAX Dance Dance Revolution links:
- List of unlockables on GameFAQs
- Tons of details about the game on remywiki.com
- Random review I came across online
- And just as a reminder of how far I have to go, here's a random video of two guys playing at an insane level of difficulty

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