Dejá Dance

Newest DDR: Same game, fresh set list.

Few phenomena are as hugely popular and bitterly mocked as the Dance Dance Revolution series. That's probably because humanity falls into two camps: fleet-footed whiz kids and rhythm-impaired klutzes.

This reviewer falls into the latter category, despite having seen Riverdance an unhealthy number of times. For a game that's mainly about stepping on arrows at the right time, DDR can be surprisingly difficult.

Now, with the release of Dance Dance Revolution SuperNOVA, the grandmaster of all rhythm titles asks yet again, "So you think you can dance?"

Artist's rendering of the type of girl who'll never date you if you play this.
Artist's rendering of the type of girl who'll never date you if you play this.

By now, fans of the long-running series already know the answer to that question. So what's to keep hardcore fans and herky-jerky dweebs like me coming back to DDR's dance floor? Though DDR: SN is an undeniably solid entry, the answer is "Not a whole lot."

DDR: SN offers several new extras -- like the hyperbolic "Stellar Master Mode" -- but it's all frosting on the same cake. And for you calorie-burners, "Workout Mode" is back again, along with more head-to-head action and online play. (Though thanks to PS2's sparse population of broadband subscribers, you may find yourself humming "Dancing With Myself.")

In this game's notion of additional challenge, the EyeToy has you waving your hands at the screen in rhythm with the dance steps. This novelty is like patting your head and rubbing your belly at the same time. Unless you thrill to the sight of watching yourself flail around on TV, skip it.

For the 0.00001 percent of players who are so good at this game that they're actually bored by the simplicity of previous editions, the new "edit mode" will let you choreograph your own dance steps to any DDR song, save it to a memory card, and test it out in public at your local arcade. Wait till the boys at Chuck E. Cheese get a load of my "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" remix!This leaves SuperNOVA's 70 new songs as its key selling point. So are they worth lifting a sock-foot for? Rock fare like Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone" and Fall Out Boy's "Dance Dance" (natch) are the chart-topping draws, but they're an awkward fit with the beat-thumping raver fare typical of the series. Pairing Franz Ferdinand and neon glow sticks makes for one awkward elevator ride.

There's also an all-new selection of generic J-Pop and techno spaz-outs at 155 BPM's. Some established artists -- such as the Chemical Brothers, the Buggles, and David Bowie -- even come with onscreen music videos. I found them to be a pleasant departure from staring at animated robots.

The new dance steps never manage to look graceful. Instead, it's like someone dumped ants all over the floor and you're trying to kill them as fast as possible. Seriously, my hips don't lie.

Played with friends, DDR can be a riot if you both suck or you're both good, but there's not a lot in between. My brother, for instance, who's just as white as I am, rules at this game. Believe me, it's especially shameful to be beaten at something that looks this ridiculous.

In the end, though novices like me will dance without dignity, dedicated DDR fans will snatch up this new disc. And they will continue to stomp around on the DDR floor-pad, which feels very much like marching on a giant diaper. They just shouldn't save the last "Dance, Dance" for me.

 
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