Oh man, I haven’t played a DDR game at home since high school, so when Konami’s newest for Xbox showed up at our offices, I got more then a twinge of nostalgia. I’ve been out of the game for a long time, spending a quarter or two here and there when I see an arcade machine, and I haven’t whipped out the dance mats since the original Xbox DDR release. Suffice to say, I am a little rusty. Having missed the rest of the offerings for Microsoft’s console, I can’t comment on the difference between this version and the last, but I can safely say that Ultramix 4 delivers on everything Konami said would show up on the Xbox versions.
The song selection is the first thing any DDR fan will page through when faced with a new DDR game and Ultramix delivers on this front. You know that song about wishing your girlfriend was hot like (me)? That’s on here, and tells the story of a lot of this mix. While catering to old fans with DDR mainstays, Ultramix 4 rolls out recent club hits. Your little sister will definitely recognize more than a few songs. 70 songs ain’t nothing to sneeze at either, and all are danceable. This release could definitely have the subtext “Club Edition”.
Let’s talk modes. DDR Ultramix 4 has more modes than any DDR game, period. Hell, I think there are more modes here than in any game on the Xbox. Some stand-outs are the Quest mode, which is a welcome addition, replacing the annoying “arcade mode” single player of earlier editions. Now, instead of running through sets of 5 songs like in the arcade, you can compete in clubs and earn money. It works, but is more than a little skeletal. Also on the list are some awesome party modes that, while for the most part gimmicky, offer a change of pace for DDR veterans. Fans who have only played the PS2 DDR games will be pleased to hear that you can actually play with (gasp) four people! I know, blasphemy, but it really works and it is a welcome addition. What else does the Xbox edition offer that the PS2 doesn’t? An online mode! You can take your dancin’ skills online now, with competitions and online downloadable content. This is definitely a welcome addition, and something that just couldn’t have been done on the PS2.
A warning, however, to those of you who suffer from epileptic seizures. DDR Ultramix 4 uses more damn flashing lights and randomly changing images. It actually detracts from the game as a whole, as it is very hard to concentrate on the arrows when in the background, a million pixels are changing every second. The presentation, while seizure-inducing, is great, however. The interface works the same as it always has, but with slick transitions. Load times are basically nil in this release, as the menus transition in and out of songs very quickly.
DDR UltraMix 4 really delivers. I couldn’t be more happy with it as a long-time DDR player looking to come back to the game. Everybody who enjoys DDR and has only stuck to the PS2 releases really needs to check out what Konami has been doing on the XBox, because it’s just a whole other ball game.