Well, ok, maybe booze started off the night, and it certrainly ended the night, but in between pulls of Tanq and tonics and Pino Grigio there was Wii Sports, Dragonforce on Expert in Guitar Hero 3 (sha, right, Jack) and Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party.
DDR was actually a gift for my girlfriend for Christmas; she had discovered it earlier in the year at a relative’s house and hinted about it all fall and winter. I initially had my doubts about it, but after she asked for it for Wii and I saw that it was sold out at every Best Buy and GameStop I visited in the area in December, I sucked it up, paid the extra shipping penalty from Gamestop.com, and yada yada yada we were jumping around shaking our booty on Christmas Day. Then we opened DDR and played that too.
One of my lingering doubts even after we opened it up was the quality of the game pad. As a Nintendo veteran well versed in the days of the fitness pad for NES I knew it could be done, but surely the intensity seen in the arcade DDR experience couldn’t be duplicated on what was largly an aerobics pad with a GameCube connector, right?
To be honest, after a week’s worth of regular gameplay and one marathon New Year’s Eve, the pad held up and I almost didn’t mind that I had spent more than $85 bucks to get DDR under the tree in time for the holiday. Almost.
First of all, let’s be honest: there’s nothing new here. It’s campy DDR and nothing more, but that’s not a bad thing at all. People tired of DDR, or rhythm games in general, will be tired of this one too. The “new” Wiimote functionality isn’t so much tacked on as it’s just there, and it can even be turned off completely if it’s just your feet that are feelin’ happy. Shaking your hands doesn’t take away from the flow of the game, but during our New Year’s play test several players noticed the nunchuck motion sensing was acting more intoxicated at times than we were. Unfortunately, and I’m going off topic a bit here, the sluggish response rate of the nunchuck accelerometer is something I’ve noticed in several games (the grappler in Metroid Prime 3 comes to mind). If Nintendo wasn’t so up to its eyeballs in supply chain issues right now, I’d suggest they look into that, but I won’t for now.
That said, this is yet another example of the changing trends in video games. I’m not necessarily talking about new types of gamers, I’m talking about large groups of people assembling around a console and a television to play interactive entertainment. And that’s not online, over ethernet cables–it’s in the same room. You’re starting to see it with Rock Band, and even Microsoft’s doomed Scene-It gimmick game, and with DDR (even with only one pad, meaning one player per turn). Big groups of people, of all walks of life — some who have never played a video game — sitting down and standing up to play some serious interactive entertainment.
In that regard, DDR Hottest Party succeeds. Gameplay works as advertised, the pad is responsive and the track list is pretty lenghty and diverse. However, a high price point (want to play four players at once? Get out that wallet), spotty Wiimote controls and somewhat lackluster game play modes beyond the main one hurt this title. It was the difference between a weak three out of four stars and the strong 2.5 I think this title deserves. Play it with a group of people and you too might lean toward three. I recommend it that way, at least.