The beat goes on. Konami's DDR series continues on the Wii with DDR Hottest Party 3. For a total DDR newb like me, I appreciated some of the user friendly features, but I'm still abysmal at this game. It's no fault of the dance pad or the game itself though; nevermind that now, let's take a closer look at the new DDR.
Gameplay And Songs
I may have never played DDR, but even the most casual gamers at least know what the game is about. DDR has been a hit for many years in homes and arcades around the world. The idea is simple: move your feet to on the dance pad controller to match the directional arrow icons on screen. Hitting the right button on the dance pad at the right moment is what it's all about, but it's easier said than done. DDRHP3 also includes HyperMove mode that integrates Wiimote and Nunchuk hand motions for added difficulty and immersion.
HyperMove is a cool idea and a great way to utilize the capabilities of the Wii, but like so many Wii games, it's not perfect when it comes to detecting your motions. I think it works well enough and it's a logical addition to the core
gameplay, but it does irk you whenever your combo is broken due to what you think is a misread by the Wii. I spent a while in this mode, but primarily focused on the classic modes that involve just moving the feet -- which was tricky enough for me. In case you're wondering how the game tells you what movement you need to do with your hands in HyperMove, there is a small silhouette picture on top of the directional arrow icon. So, you're supposed to time both your foot and hand motion together; looks cool when you pull it off, but it's not a given.
One mode that really helped me get off on the right foot (totally intended that pun) was the DDR School. This mode and HyperMove, along with the other modes I will detail shortly, are all available from the main menu. With DDR School, players are slowly introduced to the gameplay mechanics of DDR through five lessons. The first lesson has you moving left to right, the second up and down, and so forth. The lessons are done well, but as silly as this sounds, I would have loved to have seen some actual footage of real people playing the game. I know there is plenty of instruction and gameplay vids online, but having it included in game would have been nice. That's one thing I've enjoyed about Tony Hawk: RIDE, the clear instructional videos. Anyway, DDR School is a brief, but helpful mode that I recommend all newcomers check out.
If you're ready to dance but are afraid of failing, try the Relaxed mode. This mode is kept intentionally simple. Players pick their song and get going, no need to pick a character or style of play, just get moving. The difficulty is very low so it's hard to mess up. At the same time, it isn't very rewarding to play in this mode, so I doubt you'll spend a lot of time with it.
Training is another tool to help you get accustomed to DDR, and more specifically, parts of songs from the game. This is helpful if you're struggling to hammer out a certain sequence of a song.
Other modes include Freeplay, Tournament, and Workout. Freeplay is exactly that: pick your song, choose a character and style, and go for the highest score. The Tournament is what you might call the campaign mode. The idea here is to complete challenges and then take on CPU controlled characters. I didn't make it very far in this. The Workout option is a plus for people that want to burn some calories. Players enter their weight and height within a profile and a 'diary' keeps track of your progress.
A new Wii Balance Board mode is available now too that lets you dance by moving your hips. It's less interactive than the dance pad, although it takes less space, and I wasn't too thrilled with it. Worth a look if you have a Balance Board already, but I don't think most folks will get a lot out of this.
It's worth point out, and now is as good a time as any, that if you have a DDRHP2 save game on your Wii, that you can unlock the songs and costumes from that to play within DDRHP3. That's pretty cool, but as I didn't have a DDRHP2 save game, I wasn't able to really test this.
DDRHP3 also includes some multiplayer modes, with up to four player support. Unfortunately at the time of review I wasn't able to test this out either, but you can perform songs in sync with friends which is kind of neat.
Speaking of songs, the tracks in DDRHP3 are performed by their original artist. During play, the original music video (as far as I can tell) is shown in the background. Having the "real" version of the song and the music video hasn't always been the case with DDR, so purists will love that. Say, how about that track list?:
“Boogie Wonderland”/Earth, Wind & Fire
“Daftpunk Is Playing at My House”/LCD Soundsystem
“Detroit Rock City”/Kiss
“Do You Know(The Ping Pong Song)”/Enrique Iglesias
“Dream On Dreamer”/ The Brand New Heavies
“Enjoy The Silence”/Depeche Mode
“Feel Good Inc.”/Gorillaz
“Hungry Like The Wolf”/Duran Duran
“I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)”/Pitbull
“Ice Ice Baby”/ Vanilla Ice
“I'm Coming Out”/Diana Ross
“Just Dance”/Lady Gaga feat. Colby O’Donis
“La Camisa Negra”/Juanes
“Let's Get It Started”/Black Eyed Peas
“My Prerogative”/Bobby Brown
“Never Gonna Give You Up”/Rick Astley
“One Step At A Time”/Jordin Sparks
“Pocketful Of Sunshine”/Natasha Bedingfield
“Pork And Beans”/Weezer
“Praise You”/Fatboy Slim
“The Space Dance”/Danny Tenaglia
“Viva La Vida”/Coldplay
“When I Grow Up”/Pussycat Dolls
“You Got It (The Right Stuff)”/New Kids On the Block
My favorite of the bunch would have to be "Praise You" by Fatboy Slim. To give you another hint as to how hip I am, I don't even recognize most of the other artists or songs in the bunch as my tastes in music differ greatly.
I may be a bad DDR player, but I never felt like it was the fault of the game or the dance pad. The control pad doesn't use any kind of radio frequency or IR -- instead, it wisely uses a Gamecube port on the Wii. I found the dance pad to be responsive and comfortable. It folds well for storage and seems plenty durable to offer many, many hours of play if well maintained.
In terms of presentation, expect average Wii-level graphics and all of the included songs above (and more if you have an DDRHP2 save game). The visuals aren't anything special to be frank, and the songs are, well, the songs -- love'em or hate'em, they get the job done. I will point out that load times are swift though.
To the summary...