TITLE: StepManiaX V5
DATE RELEASED: 2003
Stepmania is a game from a group of developers that love their Dance Dance Revolution, we'll call it DDR in this review since that is the going term for it. DDR is a game that lets one or two players "dance" on a dance pad to the beat of the music picked at the difficulty they choose according to arrows on the screen to determine how to dance. This port has some interesting features that will make you think that you are at the arcade since it is a very close simulator to the real ddr game made by konami at your local arcade. It has several gameplay modes that will make it fun for the first time ddr player, to the hardcore players you see using two dance pads and are running a fast song on heavy difficulty.
For people that have never seen Dance Dance Revolution, you start the game up by picking your difficulty and selecting your music. Each song has certain difficulties for beginners up to advanced. Some songs are fast even on beginner, so keep an eye out on the rating. When you pick your song you move on to the dance phase. You see a background of the music displayed and see 4-6 arrows (depending on difficulty) at the top of the screen. Arrows start to scroll as the music plays, and it's your job to match the arrows that scroll to the top arrows in sync with the music/beat. When you see two arrows on one beat, that indicates a jump (ex. --> <--) in which you need to jump and plant both feet on those arrows. When you see an arrow or two keep scrolling down, that means you need to stay on that arrow(s) until the arrow stops scrolling. Depending on how many arrows you miss you could get knocked out real quick, or go all the way through the song. Also, depending on your timing, you could get boo's or rave reviews on your steps. These reviews ends up in your final score along with the misses and combo's (how many in succession without a miss or a boo) and it will determine your rank.
This port of StepMania doesn't include all the features as the pc version, but it does include enough to make it fun. It includes the abuility to add in several "plugins". Like you can add in more songs if they have an included dwi file. These DWI files tell the game what step to do on what beat, essential to playing. They also include other things like images and such to look at while you dance and to identify the song on the song wheel. It also has the feature to let you download and install dancers to dance in the background while you play. You can download charactor packs from certain websites for this. You can do several things with the background. You can add in animations into the background and visualisations. It says it has a feature for random movies (short avi files that play in background) but it seems to freeze this port. But when tested on pc they worked fine. Some of the cool things about this port is you can download the actual music/images/announcers from the real dance dance revolution games and use them. So it's just like DDR on xbox (until we get an official port it's kinda cool). So you can practice on the xbox to get the footing down then head over to the arcade and show off some. They also have some custom songs you can get from some of the DJ's on the stepmania scene, which you can find on the links pages of the stepmania website.
The game is supposed to be played on a dance pad, but it can also be played on the xbox joystick. I haven't tried to play it on a dance pad myself, living on a second floor apartment and not having a pad or converter myself, it wouldn't work out all that good, but I'm sure it can be done somehow. You can probly find a ps2 to xbox converter on liksang.com, they seem to have it all.
The game comes with one song out of the box, Hikari remix from the ps2 game Kingdom Hearts, but after cruising the Stepmania website for a bit in the links section, you will have hundreds of offical ddr and unofficial remixes to fill up the list.
And now for the ratings:
Graphics - They run about perfect, the dance arrows are in sync with all music tested, no frame drops that I could see. If you do get it though, I would suggest pumping up the colors to 32bit, for some banners don't look right in 16 bit. In 32 bit, I saw no problems with any songs getting un-synced.
Audio - Great sounding audio, though I couldn't test with Dolby 5.1 digital since I don't have a 5.1 setup. But in stereo, it sounded smooth and high quality. The speakers were definatly pounding with the tight beats from the ddr "bumper packs" you can download from various places.
Controls - Pretty easy to use, using the D-Pad and the ABXY buttons to hit the arrows to the beats was fairly simple to learn, but when you move up in difficulty, it can tend to mash your buttons with how fast some songs can bring up those arrows. (I would probly have a heart attack on my feet how fast some of those songs go. I must be gettin old =P)
Gameplay - Definatly not your average video game, Depending on how you choose to control it (dance pad or joystick), it can either be a real reflex boost or work you up into a *real* sweat. A good change from the norm. A game that actually gives a great workout for the thumbs or body. Playing this game will atleast make you faster on the trigger on those xbox live games or playing system link with your friends. Reminds me somewhat of the QTE system found in the Shenmue game for Dreamcast (I donno if they have QTE in Shenmue 2...).
This is a great game for the DDR lovers out there, and for new people the same. The fact that you can add new music and plugins helps the game alot. This simulator was definately made by DDR Fans, for DDR Fans, and I think they deserve to get a good rating at this. The end product is very fun, Retail quality, and best yet, Free!
Mac version (they look the same minux the bar at the top)