For: Xbox 360
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+ (mild lyrics, suggestive themes)
Price: $40 for game and mat bundle
The subtitle-free name may scream "reboot" - as if Konami recognizes it released a few too many DanceDanceRevolution games (including three others on the Xbox 360 alone) over the years and wants to start over.
But in the post-Kinect age, relic feels like a more appropriate term. Fresh start or no fresh start, entirely too little has changed to make DDR feel like anything but a slightly different version of the slightly different games that preceded it - and too much has changed elsewhere to make that acceptable anymore.
This isn't to suggest that what worked before cannot work now. The DDR formula - step on the bundled dance mat's giant buttons in accordance with the visual prompts and beats of the music - is recognizable to the point of iconic now, and it remains as simple as ever to play and difficult as ever to master. If there's an advantage to releasing slight variations of the same game so many times over the years, it's that Konami has the difficulty curve locked down. Between the multiple difficulty settings and room for tweaking in the options screens, DDR has the range to accommodate just about everybody.
All those passing years have also allowed Konami to pack a lot of modes and features into these games. DDR isn't as ambitious as the DDR Universe series, which sent a horde of features orbiting around elaborate single-player quest modes, but the usual arcade modes are accounted for. The new Club Mode slightly mimics the Universe quests by stringing songs together and asking players to complete challenges beyond just hitting the right buttons. A four-player Dance Off mode lets players take turns racking up the best score on a song, though it - along with all of DDR's modes - lacks online multiplayer support.
Of course, when DDR trumpets an offline-only multiplayer mode as one of its big new features, it says volumes about the series' age and inability to grow with the times. It's a bit shortsighted to omit online multiplayer from any Xbox 360 game that has the means to support it, and it looks downright lazy when that game marks the series' fourth iteration on the system.
But Konami's bigger problem by far is its complete ignorance of Kinect. DDR arrives nearly six months after Dance Central made waves as the Kinect's best launch title, and that game's range of motion - utilizing a player's upper as well as lower body and doing so without any need for a dance mat - makes this game's range look positively ancient.
It doesn't help that the mat remains a wired accessory. The wire is pretty long, but if you've arranged your setup to accommodate either the Kinect or a wireless setup in general, there's still a chance you can't even plug this thing in and place it at a comfortable distance from your setup.
Konami has, to its credit, priced DDR to move. Even with the mat bundled inside, the $40 price is cheaper than the Universe games cost all by themselves.
But the low price reads like an admission that DDR isn't the revamp its name implies it should have been. The room for growth is more spacious now than it's ever been, and if there's a fifth DDR game for this system, it'd be wise to evolve if it wants to be looked at as more than a budget game for old fans.
For those curious, a complete list of songs included in DDR is available at konami.com/ddr. Additionally, if you've purchased downloadable tracks over Xbox Live for the Universe games, they will work in this game as well.