|Dance Dance Revolution: Ultramix 3 (2005)
Available for: Xbox
Caution: “Dance Dance Revolution” isn’t as fun as it was three years ago, but don’t tell that to rabid fans of the arcade rhythm game looking for a new assortment of dance steps to master. While the series has proven itself time and again as one of the more entertaining party activities, as well as the unofficial White Boy Dancing Exam, the game’s poor music selection and repetitive gameplay result in a title that has little value to any recreational gamer. It does, however, offer “DDR” enthusiasts a medley of new game modes that will no doubt make the series appear more innovative than it really is.
For anyone who hasn’t experienced the sheer embarrassment of stomping your way through an endless supply of J-Pop and obscure dance club tunes, the game involves stepping on four directional arrows (up, down, left, right) in conjunction with scrolling arrows that appear on the game screen. As each arrow moves into a designated slot at the top of the screen, the player must accurately step on that corresponding arrow at the exact time to score a “perfect” grade; total misses call up “boo”s, while other grades include “great”s, “good”s and “ok”s. At the end of the song, the player is scored on how well he/she executed the moves with a letter grade ranging from A-F. New songs can also be unlocked and higher difficulty settings can be attempted, but once half-, quarter- and eighth-steps come in to play, you’ll be wishing you had some a dash of actual talent.
The music selection for the third installment of the Xbox series is actually quite impressive, but none of these songs make for good dancing music, including the following: “Hey Mama” (Black Eyed Peas), “Rock Lobster” (the B-52’s), “Walk This Way” (Run D.M.C.), “Where’s Your Head At” (Basement Jaxx), “It’s All Right” (Ray Charles), “Instanbul” (They Might Be Giants), “Whip It” (Devo), and “Virtual Insanity” (Jamiroquai). In fact, the only songs that do work with the design of the game are said J-Pop and obscure dance tunes if only because they offer the required rhythm needed to make you look like a complete ass.
Featuring game modes from past installments like Workout Mode (track your calories while you dance), Edit Mode (edit dance steps to your favorite songs), and Xbox Live (challenge other players online), “DDR: Ultramix 3” also offers several new ways to play, including a Party Mode that contains three different battle games meant to add a much-needed twist to the overall gameplay. Attack mode pits players against one another as they hurl penalties to the opponent’s screen via dance combos, while Bomb mode plays out a lot like a game of hot potato with players sending a ticking bomb back and forth between screens. The third battle game, Sync Mode, forces the player to execute only “perfect” steps, or its game over. On top of these new games is a Freestyle Mode that allows the player to make up their own dance steps to any song, and an RPG-lite Quest Mode that has the player going across the world showing off your crazy skillz.
All of this variety and “Ultramix 3” still feels monotonous after only a few hours of play, mostly due to the fact that none of these new game modes are any more entertaining or challenging than playing the same tired formula from the original. As stated before, fans of the arcade hit will definitely eat up the new addition to the “DDR” franchise, and the third volume is just as good of an introduction to the series as any, but unless you plan on spending your spare hours memorizing thousands of dance steps, there’s really no point in dropping upwards of a hundred bucks (that’s for a game and two dance pads - you know, so you can play with a friend) on something you may never play more than once.