DDR MAX: Dance Dance Revolution
Game Info
Playstation 2
Konami TYO
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Mild Lyrics
The Good

• Lots of modes
• Lots of songs
• Lots of replay

The Bad

• Need to buy special controllers
• Difficulty level too high for novice players


Dance Dance Revolution has become something of a cult phenomenon in the past few years. I myself was introduced to it that way. I had tried playing it in the arcade once or twice, but couldn't figure much out - it wasn't until a girlfriend had a DDR night at her house that I discovered the joys of the game. DDR Max is the latest in a series of rhythm games (Bemani in Japan). It is however, the first one on the PS2.

Gameplay: You could play DDR with just your regular controller, but unless you're unfortunate enough to have no use of your legs, I recommend playing it as it was designed - with your feet. This means shelling out $20+ to get at least one "dancepad" a la the old NES pads you used for Track and Field. For those of you who've never played a DDR game, "What do you do with this pad", you ask? Well, arrows corresponding to the directions on the d-pad will scroll up the screen. As they pass over their corresponding icons at the top of the screen, you need to step on that arrow. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, the trick is that the arrows are arranged to keep you constantly stepping, and if done right you actually look like your dancing. You can actually choreograph dances so that your footwork matches up, and then show off your style to your friends or the general public in an arcade (and people spend insane time and energy doing just this)!

In DDR Max, the gameplay you may've come to know and love is still there, with the addition of freeze arrows, which mean you have to hold your foot on that spot temporarily, instead of just tapping it there at the right moment. Some of the songs speed up and slow down the scrolling speed, and others have you stepping to staccato claps as well as multiple beats - all in all, it offers a lot and can be very challenging.

Sound: This is a huge factor for this kind of game. What we're mostly looking at is the music. Is it good? Well, it's a dancing game - you've gotta like dance music, or J-pop, or preferably both. If so, then you're in good shape. DDR Max has over 65 songs, about half of which are unlocked as you play or as you clear certain objectives. There are series classics such as AM-3P, Brilliant 2 U, and Look to the Sky as well as more mainstream hits like Sandstorm, I Like to Move It, and the dance version of Duran Duran's Ordinary World. There are also new remixes of Era, My Generation, and the series staple Paranoia, among others. All in all, the music offers more than any fan could hope for. The other sound aspect, the announcer, is decent - not quite as enthusiastic as in previous incarnations, but I never get tired of hearing that I'm "like sunshine on a cloudy day!"

Graphics: It's PS2, so yeah, the graphics are a little better, but who's looking? Honestly, the graphics aren't much of a factor in this game, but what's there is pretty enough. Detailed backgrounds and lots of flashing lights and stuff while you're dancing. Pretty to look at for people who are on the sidelines, I guess. The player will be busy watching the arrows.

Replay: This game is all about the replay. It might be fun to dabble with, but the real payoff comes from getting good at it. Invest in a second pad and play with or against friends. Or use both pads yourself in the double play option. Or improve your skill and try harder songs, or the same songs on harder difficulty settings, or harder game modes (like Oni mode). Make your own steps in the Edit mode, take some pounds off in the Workout mode, the options go on and on. This game DEMANDS replay.

Final Verdict: This is a great entry on the PS2 - it's got something for any fan of the genre. The only problem with these games is that there is such a huge following of the series. In order to satisfy them, the developers need to continually add more, and in lieu of screwing up a good gaming formula by changing it too much, they just increase the challenge. This means if you're a DDR fanatic, there are plenty of songs on here with CRAZY difficulty, heck there's a whole mode that'll give you a heart attack trying to keep up with it. But for a novice player, the easier songs and settings are few and far between. There is a Lesson mode and a Training mode to help increase your skills, but if you don't have a lot of time or talent, you might be hard pressed to find many songs to play. I'd recommend newer players wait for DDR Max 2 (rumored to be easier), or grab a copy of DDR for the PSone, which I still find to be the easiest to play.

- - Jeff Light

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