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Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party - Wii Review

Game Info
Dance Dance Revoution Hottest Party / 
DDR Hottest Party

Wii | Bemani / Konami | 1 Player / 2-4 Players (local multiplayer/co-operative play) | Out Now
Controller Compatibility: Dance Mat; Wii Remote (pointer); Wii Remote and Nunchuk; Classic Controller; GameCube Controller
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16th December 2009; By KnucklesSonic8

Konami wasted little time in deciding to bring the well-received DDR series to the Wii. Thinking back, it was very exciting to see how they'd approach this new sub-series for the console. Fast forward a couple years later and the game has been out on the market for quite some time now. Konami ended up proving that Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party was more than a simple rehash of old material with new songs (something that has become a bit of a trend with the handful of recent releases on the PS2). Really, it was the beginning of what would eventually become a series that would completely change the face of DDR releases to come.

    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.

    DDR Hottest Party features standard modes that you would come to expect from a DDR release. There's a "Story Mode" of sorts, entitled 'Groove Circuit Mode', Free Play Mode (select any song of your choice), Workout Mode (tracks the number of calories they burn over a given session), Records Mode and Options. Right off the bat, DDR veterans will notice that the game is lacking in some additional modes that have been featured in previous DDR releases (such as Edit Mode and Battle Mode). This was especially surprising since Konami promised that other modes would be included in the final SKU, including an assortment of "mini-games", but this was never pursued further. These would've definitely made the game feel like a more complete package.

    '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.

    Before getting into the songs themselves, let's discuss the other aspects surrounding the game's presentation. First off, the game sports a new announcer, previously unseen in other DDR games. He's definitely miles better than the rather irksome announcer from DDRX, but at the same time, the announcer here is not without his share of annoying bits. If you start to perform poorly at a song, he will frequently hurl very negative remarks at you, often using the same ones repeatedly (although this can be turned off). Also, when perusing through the menus, if you don't press anything on the controller for a bit, the announcer will constantly tell you to make a selection and begin dancing (which can't be turned off). These aren't too annoying in themselves, but because he says them so frequently, you may find yourself beginning to hate the announcer completely. Thankfully, Konami took notice of these issues and adjusted them in future games in the Hottest Party series.

    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.

    Moving onto visuals, the backgrounds during gameplay and amongst menu choices are pretty snazzy-looking. Even the banners designated for each song in the game look great (with a few exceptions here and there). Dance stages are mostly bright with some additional background elements, but for the most part, there's nothing too eventful to speak of past the routines. On that note, choreography for the routines is pretty good. There are some routines that are really well done as they capture the emotions of each song to a superb degree but there are some routines that feature some odd dance moves (e.g., when characters do push-ups) and aren't strung together as well as they could be.

    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.

    What's more interesting, though, is the addition of Wii-exclusive Hand Markers that task you with shaking the Wii Remote and/or Nunchuk when the special marker appears in the Arrow Meter. It takes a while to get used to it but it's a great concept that Konami has used to bring life to the franchise. Unfortunately, execution is a little lacking. At times, you'll find that even with much experience, the markers can be very hit-and-miss and even with hard shakes, sometimes the controllers don't always register when you want them to. Although this was rectified tremenduously in future Hottest Party releases, it's a shame that Konami couldn't get the system working consistently from the start.

    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.

    As far as the KO's (Konami Originals) go, Konami has made some excellent songs for the game but as a whole, these songs fall short of the strong license list. There's a series of well-mapped, challenging charts for such songs as Love Shine, and Little Steps but there are also some songs that don't work as well from a musical standpoint. The KO selection features a series of songs that sound highly similar in nature. There are 5 songs (Confession, Touchin', Let It Out, Moving On and Will) that a person can pick out as sounding very similar and this ultimately takes away from the otherwise good KO selection. Despite this, the stronger songs do help in this regard and you're bound to find a few favourites.

    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.

26/30 - Very Good

Gameplay 9/10 - Excellent song selection, Hand Markers and Gimmicks are great new additions to the formula
Presentation 8/10 - Quality license list, slick menus, models could be sharper, KO's could've been stronger
Enjoyment 5/5 - Really good step charts that are satisfying and challenging, great multiplayer focus
Extra Content 4/5 - Going for top scores will take you months, especially if you're just starting, variety of modes

Equivalent to a score of 87% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8
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