Surely, most are very familiar with the type of gameplay that exists in DDR games since they've been around for quite some time. Just in case you're not, the general premise has players dancing or "stepping" to a series of arrows that rise to the top of the screen using a special dance mat, all done to the rhythm of some background music. Hitting arrows at the right time wil increase your score and your dance meter but doing poorly will decrease your dance meter, resulting in a failure if the meter depletes completely. It's a tried-and-true formula that has worked for years since the inception of the franchise.
'Groove Circuit Mode' is where players will spend most of their time when they first begin playing. In this mode, players will be hit with song requests and dance battles against CPU opponents as they set out across a series of dance venues. The level of progression is great: right at the start, you'll be tasked with completing Lesson by DJ, a song that ultimately plays out like a tutorial for the game. As you go on, you'll unlock new dancers, stages and songs. If you manage to clear the GC Mode (which won't be too challenging), you'll unlock Round 2, which will prove to be more difficult. Directives here are not only more specific, but many of them will ask you to play on higher difficulties with some of the harder songs in the game. To be able to clear the GC Mode in its entirety will not prove to be an easy task at all, challenging both newcomers and hardcore players alike.
Character models in the game are approached with a unique style that differs greatly from other games in the series. It might be hard to get accustomed to for hardcore DDR players who have been used to the tall, detailed models seen in other releases, but ultimately, they help make the game stand out from its other counterparts. Most of the characters look good and feature a decent amount of detail (except for the weird-looking model for Danca) and it's likely that you'll find yourself a favourite or two. There is something that must be addressed, though, and that is the fact that almost all of the female characters sport costumes with very low-cut skirts and shorts. It's baffling that the game didn't get a "Suggestive Themes" descriptor from the ESRB given the amount of "skin" that some of these characters show. Although there are a few modest female costumes, this aspect could prove to be rather questionable (depending on the view of the individual player, of course), especially for parents.
DDR Hottest Party also contains a modest level of options that add to the overall experience. There are some interesting ways of playing with friends, especially the "Friendship Style" which is great for working co-operatively to complete songs wither in Groove Circuit or in Free Play. Continuing with the tradition that began with DDR Mario Mix, the game also features a series of gameplay-enhancing Gimmicks. Examples such as the Foot Confuser and the Double Stomp are portrayed well on-screen and they add a measure of challenge to the game's songs.
Other standard options for tweaking gameplay simply don't stack up to other DDR releases. What's most discouraging is the lack of speed modifiers, allowing you to play charts with faster scroll speeds. The game forces you to play at the 1x speed, so for those that play on 2x speed or higher, this is definitely a glaring omission.
So now, it's come to the moment of truth: how is the song list? Let's begin by discussing the Licenses. Konami promised to deliver an assortment of songs chosen from the last "four decades of music" and boy did they ever deliver. The license selection is no short of stellar and you'll be surprised with the song quality in the game. Songs like Karma Chameleon may sound rather easy to dance to but thanks to the remastered cover versions, they take a completely different approach by changing instrumentals and/or speeding up the songs. Such songs as Too Little Too Late, You Spin Me 'Round, Call on Me and Summertime are not only excellent song choices but the charts for these songs are mapped really well, something that newcomers and veterans alike can appreciate. Even some of the easier songs like Yo, Excuse Me Miss sound great and have nice step charts that help newcomers in their transition from Difficult to Expert gameplay.
Overall, it can be said that DDR Hottest Party is a success on many counts. The game features a memorable license list with impressive step charts that are sure to challenge and satisfy almost all players of varying skill levels. There are some drawbacks that could've made the game more of an essential purchase - namely, the lack of deep options, the execution of the Hand Marker system and the mixed KO selection. However, these can be overlooked because when it comes down to it, DDR Hottest Party is, without a doubt, one of the stronger DDR releases in recent years.