_hojo:DDRMAX rocks anything that rhymes with “rocks”April 28, 2009
_up until a couple months ago, i hadn’t played Dance Dance Revolution, from here on shortened to DDR, in numerous years. DDR is arguably the most well-known Bemani game (Konami’s line of rhythm games) in the US, and arguably the most popular one as well. it’s a nice entry-level rhythm game, and is often used as a stepping stone to bigger and better harder things [lol bigger and harder]. i, like many others before me, had followed that path. DDR sparked my interest in other games, and i started to go to the arcade and dabbled in Guitar Freaks, drummania, and a lot of beatmania IIDX. eventually, my enthusiasm for DDR shrank as my new-found enthusiasm for IIDX grew. combine that with the at-the-time sparse arcade releases, and the fact that i’m a lazy fat-ass that gets easily fatigued from the kind of movement that DDR demands…i eventually stopped playing and fell out of the DDR scene altogether.
_during this time period, i frequented (and still do) many Bemani-centric websites, and was still aware of new releases. and even though i stopped playing, i sometimes looked from afar. and when i did look…i saw that things had changed. the fan base had gone from wanting fun steps to just difficult ones. nobody wanted new songs, they just wanted transplants from other games. licenced songs went from danceable club jams to rock radio staples. having not actually BEEN in the scene at the time, maybe i was just seeing what i wanted to see, and all these problems i saw were all just me blowing little things out of proportion. but the basic idea i took was that the DDR custom songs+chart online community, that i helped contribute to, had had a direct effect on the real DDR franchise, and it wasn’t for the better. DDR just didn’t seem like DDR anymore. it had gone from what it was into what used to be used as a complaint for custom stepcharts…IVKAS, or “4-key autoscratch.” instead of moving to the rhythm of a song, you stepped to the distinct sounds of them. granted, moving your feet onto 4 points of a square can hardly be considered actual “dancing,” but Dance Dance Revolution had strayed away from the original groundwork of dancing to songs.
_now, more than ever, do i realize that this feeling i felt was more than just skewed perceptions from a disenchanted fan. i realized this when i popped in my copy of DDRMAX for the PS2. even playing on a controller, i remembered what it was about the series that i loved. i love upbeat dance music. i love house music. i love those old Konami style steps that don’t go with anything, but fit with the song anyways, and custom charters don’t have the vision to try on any of their charts. i love the old, charmingly shitty backgrounds. i loved the old transplants that were brought over from others games based on the fact that they fit in the game as opposed to them just being popular. i liked it when hard songs were hard, and weren’t just chart gimmicks. i liked the US home release of DDRMAX.
_though maybe i’m being a little too hard on the new DDR games that i really haven’t played (lol hard on). maybe i only like DDRMAX out of nostalgia. maybe i only like it because i’ve spent the last few years only playing rhythm games that contorted my fingers and had charts so hard that they could physically manifest themselves as nooses which i could hang myself with. maybe a bunch a of shit. but i bet not. i bet DDRMAX is like the Sonic & Knuckles of DDR games. high quality games came afterward in both series, so it’s not that they were the last good game in their respective series…but that they represent the last uncorrupted game in the series, before they started to become affected by the gaming world around them and crumbled under the weight of trying to play catch up. or maybe that sounds too dramatic? how about “they’re the plateaus” (even though i like Sonic 2 more, personally, but i’ll concede to the fact that the original idea of S3+K sounds epic on a grand scale and that’s what i’m counting here, and also the DDREx arcade release is just fantastic on many levels as well and i’d have a hard time directly trying to argue MAX(US) over it but w/e). yeah…plateaus is easier.