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Pre-Release Thoughts on DanceDanceRevolution

13th November 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

Ever since the new DDR was announced for Wii, I've been giddy with anticipation, waiting for news on this new endeavour. It's been commented by NAOKI himself that both this and the new DDR for PS3 are "reboots" to the franchise, signifying that Konami may be re-approaching how they handle future console releases. Hopefully these new seemingly-more complex hand motions work well without detracting from the normal experience. However, that's not where my concerns lie at this point. With only a few days until release, there are a few things that are nagging me with how they're handling it.

Case 1: The Name
Contrary to logic, the new DDR will be simply titled "DanceDanceRevolution" with no additional subtitles to follow it. It would seem to make more sense to just label it as "Hottest Party 4", but considering they're aiming to revamp the franchise, I'm not surprised they did this. Having said that, this name may very well cause some confusion amongst consumers who may not be as familiar with Konami's products. Seeing DanceDanceRevolution Hottest Party 3 and the new DanceDanceRevolution side-by-side, logic states that HP3 would probably be the latest one. I'd be curious to know if they considered these sorts of things when they were finalizing the name.

Case 2: Boxart
I know this may come across as nit-picky but the boxart this time around is borderline terrible. Hottest Party 3 had a great, vibrant boxart that effectively showcased what the game was all about. Interestingly, in 2010, Konami changed the boxart to reflect a totally different feel, with a light blue and a woman taking center stage. Here, the light blue returns, and the entire package comes across as a fitness regimen. While I am pleased they at least snuck in one guy in there, I think the woman in the top right is creepy-looking. Overall, the message is a bit conflicting, but it's occurred to me that Konami is trying more and more to position this as more of a fitness product than for entertainment, which isn't necessarily a bad thing in itself. It just means that the package seems to appeal more to an older, casual crowd.

Case 3: News Updates
Back when the game was announced (at that point, "DanceDanceRevolution" was seen as a working title), Konami created a mini-site for the game. Since it was published during the early summer period, there have been no site updates whatsoever. In addition, Konami has not followed up with any sort of additional gameplay trailers to further market the title. Usually by now I would've expected a second trailer to list some of the key features and announce some of the songs the final release would include. But nothing of the sort was released. Further to that, until just a few days ago, there was a lengthy period of time where there was no news reported on the title at all. Konami only just revealed the Partial Song List for the game, and most of what was on there were things we already knew from YouTube videos and other sources of information on the Playstation 3 version. I can't understand why they've decided not to market this title a whole lot. It's sad, really. Considering they see this as a "reboot", you would think they'd try to enforce that position in the minds of consumers long before the game's release.

Case 4: Song List
As was mentioned, we only just received some new information on the songs that would be included in the game. Some of the songs like "Animal" by Ke$ha and "Battlefield" by Jordin Sparks were already known for months. Others came a little later, such as "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz and "Hey, Soul Sister" by Train. I still can't understand why they chose I'm Yours for a DDR game, but I'll have to wait and see how the chart is approached before I pass any judgments. Some new entries revealed the other day include "Love Shack" by The B-52's, and "Love Like This" by Natasha Bedingfield. There are some good picks in here that I'm surprised over, but as a whole I can't help but find myself disappointed with this license set. It simply isn't as strong as last year's list. I hope whatever licenses that haven't been revealed yet end up helping the list's overall impression, but so far I'm not all that impressed. 26 songs have been revealed so far (20 licenses, 6 KO's), so I'm looking forward to seeing how many songs the final SKU has. 50 or less would be extremely disappointing, so I hope it doesn't come to that.

Case 5: Logistics
Today, I found out that Konami released the manual for the game on their website. And perusing through this, I came across some interesting information. Once again, Doubles are absent, but that doesn't surprise me. Here's what did surprise me though. For one, in Choreograph mode, Expert level doesn't have "dance sequences" displayed, requiring you to "mimic the movements of the dancer on-screen". If I understand correctly, this difficulty setting wouldn't be dissimilar from the way one plays Just Dance 2. 

The manual makes no mention of a Story, Circuit or Mission Mode at all, which is a huge surprise to me. The DDR Points from HP3 are back though, so playing over and over again will grant you new rewards (still no Shop option). They also seem to have taken out the Gimmicks that were introduced in the Hottest Party games, which also surprised me. Balance Board Mode seems to have a new element to it, where players are asked to step off the board. It'll be interesting to see how that turns out. The main menu shown in the manual is exactly the same as what was shown at E3, and I find it's very basic in its execution. Finally, one of the screenshots in the manual has revealed that Plastic Beach by Gorillaz has a 4-Footer Expert routine. Seriously?! Not even the Hottest Party games went this low! I know it's only one song, but add to that the easy license charts they had in HP3, and both elements have me very worried about the difficulty that will be present in the game...

Don't get me wrong, I'm still very excited for the game. But all things considered, I think it would be best if I lowered my expectations a little. I had first thought that this might actually surpass Hottest Party 3, but now I'm not so sure. The more I think about it, the more I find myself worried over how the final product will turn out. Either way, you can expect full coverage of DanceDanceRevolution when it comes out this coming week.

Feature by KnucklesSonic8
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