Although I've had Dance Dance Revolution Konamix for ages, I wasn't able to play it for most of that time due to living on a second floor apartment with thin walls/floors/ceilings. (The game even helpfully provides a warning that states "Be careful... not to disturb others with step vibrations.") Anyway, after moving to a place where there's no neighbor to annoy underneath me I've been able to finally try out DDR myself.

Basically the game was what I expected it would be, which is a straightforward dance game. "Straightforward" definitely doesn't mean easy, though. Each track is given a rating out of 9 feet (not sure why they didn't just rate them out of 10) and divided into three categories, "Basic", "Trick", and "Maniac". I started off with the Basic and although it took a little while to find my "footing", I got to a point where I was able to do pretty well. The Trick level is significantly more difficult, as it has many more 16th-note steps, i.e. twice the speed as regular steps, as well as many more complicated two-foot steps, often requiring you to jump from one two-foot step to another two-foot step. I barely touched the Maniac level, as Trick was tricky enough for me.

As I was reading up on the history of the DDR series, I was reminded that Parappa the Rapper is considered to be the first influential rhythm game. I also read up on DDR's direct predecessor, the Beatmania series, which looks exactly like Guitar Hero but with 5 buttons and a turntable. Some more history: apparently this game is from the 4th group of DDR games. The first two iterations, DDR and DDR 2nd mix received PS versions only in Japan, although the third game did spawn the first version to be released in the US.

Anyway, there's not a whole lot more I need to get into. If you know anything about the DDR series you know what to expect. The music was pretty decent, and had a good mix of techno, R&B, etc., and the on-screen dance characters were fairly entertaining. No story mode or anything, but it's definitely not needed. My only complaint is that the ranking system is a bit too rigid, as you're only awarded an A if you get a full combo, i.e. "perfect" or "great" on every step with none missed.

Although the game is fun and requires much more activity than other fitness-oriented games I've played, I'm not enough of a high score chaser or perfectionist to play it for extended periods of time. Still, there's no denying the series' cultural impact and influence, so much so that it's earned a place on my "Greatest Games of All Time" list. I'm sure I'll be visiting its other entries, but for now I'm going to shelve this one in favor of a newer (to me, anyway), shinier fitness-oriented game. Stay tuned...

Sweat to these Dance Dance Revolution Konamix links:
- There are tons of great videos of people playing DDR games. Here's a Japanese guy in an arcade, a 5 year old, and a mom with her 9 year old.
- Video of a project where a student programmed a robot to play DDR
- Someone's typed up the lyrics to all the tracks
- Entry at Wikipedia
- Info on unlockables at GameFAQs

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