Dance Dance Revolution Extreme
System: PlayStation 2 :: Rating: Everyone :: Players: 1-2
Genre: Dancing / Music :: Released: 21 September 2004
By Kellen Scrivens
Just like its predecessors, Dance Dance Revolution Extreme is about one thing and one thing only. The gameplay. By now I'm sure you know how it works. If not, then this little bit of exposition is for you. Basically, there are four stagnant arrows at the top of the screen, each pointing up, down, left and right. As the music plays, other brightly colored/flashing arrows ascend towards those unmoving ones at the top. Players then must step one the dance pad (sold separately) at the exact moment the arrows pass one another. The more in time your steps are, the better your score.
Seems simple, right? Well, let me tell you right now, buddy... this is a lot harder than it looks (and sounds).
DDR Extreme is an absolute workout; I swear to God, the first few weeks I had it I could not keep playing for more than 15 minutes at a time because my ankle would start to crap out on me. You can start out fairly simple with barely any challenge at all, or you can do the insane thing and ramp the difficulty up to a point that you're eyes (never mind your feet) can barely keep up. Attempting to become "Dance Master" by getting AAA scores on all the songs on all the difficulties levels is a monster of a challenge. Hell — my best score on any song on "light" is AA.
The fun factor is also something that makes this game incredibly great. Nothing is more entertaining than busting out the dance pad with five of your friends, and watching each other flail around like total idiots while trying not to flail around like total idiots. And because this is called Dance Dance Revolution (mind the double use of the word "dance") and not Step Step Revolution, inserting your own little flairs and poses into the mix only seems natural. Sure, voguing while in the middle of a video game might make you look like a tool, but, in the company of friends, it's more fun than you can imagine.
While the graphics and visuals aren't the best you're going to come across (photorealism isn't really needed here), they do exceed expectations. The animated backgrounds add a little something to the fun factor, making you want to shake your ass that much more. But the songs that are presented with videos detract greatly from the experience, because it can make it really hard to see the arrows against the background.
Song selection is fairly good with quite a diverse range of tracks and styles. You have everything from J-Pop to guitar rock to remixes of classic dance tracks. (Who doesn't love dancing to a remix of the Can-can?) They've also included remakes of some more well-known tunes, including Madonna's "Like a Virgin" and "Believe" by Cher. Pleasantly, some of the songs are even performed by the original performers! (Most notably "The Reflex" by Duran Duran and the obligatory "YMCA".)
Along with a decent playlist comes a slew of unlockables. The fastest way to score these seems to be by beating Mission mode — totaling 100 incredibly hard tasks in all. The slower and harder way, however, would be to simply play through the normal game. For every five songs that you successfully complete, something will be unlocked. It may be something as simple as a new character or as cool as a song or mode. Those obsessive folks who need to collect/unlock everything — and you know who you are — will find plenty of secrets that will keep them playing and playing.
DDR Extreme (along with the rest of the games in the DDR franchise) is truly different from just about everything else on the market, and is quite possibly the ultimate party game (take that Mario Party). It gets a 4 out of 5.