It can be so refreshing to just get lost in the music, sweat dripping off of me, as I dance, and dance, and dance. Granted, DDR is to real dancing as paint by number is to impressionism. Still, when the driving beat of cheesy techno and house music fills the room, you just feel animated, driven by a force you can’t control to get up and groove.
Many of the movements occasionally feel a bit structured and regimented, almost like marching to a cadence; however, in the privacy of one’s own home, one can add a bit of freestyling flourish without worrying about what one’s ridiculously spastic, possibly less than masculine, gyrations must look like.
The game aspect of DDR also adds to the escapist nature of the activity. If you let your mind wander back to all the problems of life and work and whatnot, you start missing arrows, and your score and the letter grade you receive for your performance suffers.
Speaking of the game aspect, this latest iteration of Konami’s DDR franchise has much more of a video game feel to it. In earlier versions, after every fixed interval of a certain number of songs is completed, a hidden part of the game, such as a new song or course, would automatically become available. A large part of the fun is playing until you unlock everything.
In DDR Extreme 2, playing through songs or completing “missions” earns you special points that you can use in a “shop” to buy new songs, or unlock characters, etc.—reminiscent of most RPGs. There are hidden arrows that yield extra bonus points. Also, the branching paths and unlockable “worlds” of the Mission Mode seem like something out of Super Mario.
Frankly, I would have been happy enough with the 100-plus minutes of new dance music, but the new unlock system might delay the boredom that eventually sets in once one has danced through all the songs over and over again—hopefully, long enough until DDR STR!KE comes out.