Review by ecureuil

Reviewed: 05/30/03 | Updated: 05/30/03

Not such a MegaMix..

Could this be Europe’s answer to DDRMAX? Well..

First things first, anyone who's played EuroMix2 in the arcade will know exactly what to expect here, but for those groomed simply on the PS1 games; you can expect a few minor surprises. Behind all the cel-shaded graphics and bright colours this game instantly throws at you, it's still a simple game at heart, it’s still Dance Dance Revolution even if it is under the European pseudonym of ‘Dancing Stage’. Traditional DDR gameplay applies here; you hit the arrows rising up as they pass over the 4 arrows at the top of the screen. Usually you’d want to be using a dance mat for this, but it can be played with a standard controller albeit at the sacrifice of fun. MegaMix is the fourth Dancing Stage game to be released in PAL territories, but this is the first on a next generation console; Playstation 2. Those familiar with the PS1 games will be right at home here, however there's one new gameplay feature that hasn't appeared on a PAL Dancing Stage game before, and that is freeze arrows. Although it's more of a dancing evolution than a revolution, it adds a more variety to your step patterns, and it's very welcome indeed.

There’s plenty of options here to get your teeth in to. The main option; Game Mode is where you'll spend most of your time. (it's in the huge writing at the top of the main menu, you can't miss it, heh.) The standard DDR options are here, you have a choice of Single, Versus and Double and after selection you'll be taken to the snazzy colour coded song list. It's done as a Roulette wheel on the right side of the screen, Green denotes a licensed track, Yellow is a Konami original and Red is a hidden song. On the left side of the screen it displays the banner, speed of the song (in beats per minute) and foot ratings for each song ranging from Beginner to Expert, so it all makes it very easy to know exactly what you're undertaking when you select a song. It’s generally up to date with MAX2, but one notable thing missing from MegaMix is the groove radar, which has been apparent in the more recent incarnations of DDR. This displays step information such as how much of the song is Freeze arrows, or how many off-beat arrows there are (and other such statistics, you get the idea). Fortunately, at the end of the song you can see how successful you were in those departments in bar-form, although not essential, it's a nice touch.

The other regular game modes have returned to this mix. Those are things such as Workout, Training, Edit, Options, Records and Endless. The obvious exclusion here is Oni/Challenge mode. When the rest of the game is so technically up-to-date it’s disappointing to have this mode missing, but MegaMix seems to be aimed more at the mainstream market than any other mix so it’s unsurprising it was left out.

Graphics aren't really something you'd worry too much about in such a simplistic game, but it's good to know Konami have made an effort to make this look as nice as possible. When you first play the game you may immediately notice the gorgeous background animations (I quit playing Vanity Angel about 30 seconds in the first time just so I could watch the background), which takes the form of FMV movies as opposed to the stupid polygonal dancers of previous mixes. The frame rate is much better than the PS1 games too, which can be expected from a next generation console but it really does look nice. After all, the arrows are what you'll be looking at 99% of the time you're playing. This time around Konami have realised the ultimate fantasy of every DDR gamer, and now allow you to sing along to S Club Juniors with the help of karaoke-style lyrics that appear at the bottom of the screen. The disappointing thing is though; the lyrics only appear for the 7 licensed tracks in the game, so no singing along to Crash! (I can hear people sobbing at this very moment!)

Now to the major downfall of this game: the songs. ..and it’s a pretty damn big downfall considering this is a game based around music. There are only 28 songs in the entire game, which is weak considering Party Edition has 51, and DDRMAX has 70+. Konami have tried to avoid putting songs that have already been done to death on there, (EotC or Dynamite Rave for example) but instead they've given us a stripped-down EM2 which is 90% pop songs. There are 7(seven!) licensed songs on there, such as Kylies Love At First Sight, S Club Juniors (Yay! _) and that JXL vs. Elvis song that got played so much everyone was completely sick of it by it's third week at number one. What's more, all the licensed songs are 4 footers on Expert so there's nothing really much to challenge DDR veterans. As for the Konami originals.. what were they thinking?! There is no variety. Remixes include new-old versions of 'classics' such as Paranoia KCET -Clean Mix-, Trip Machine Climax and Brilliant2U -Orchestra Groove-, but even those are only new to the European non-import gamer, I mean, B2U Orchestra and Paranoia KCET are from the 2nd mix! If they have no problem pulling those back then why not throw a few more in such as AM-3P and Can't Stop Fallin' In Love (Speed Mix), and what about Healing Vision Angelic Mix? I'm just listing songs off the top of my head here, but I they could have added some more just to at least flesh out the track listing. The rest of the songs on MegaMix are basically cheesy pop songs, including a couple from Naoki and Good-Cool (including Spin The Disc, which in my opinion is the most overrated DDR song ever.) Where's the J-pop or even house? And whatever happened to dj Taka? If it wasn't for Tsugaru and MAX300 I'd have completely abandoned this game because there isn't much to keep you interested once you've played the songs a few times.

All in all, Dancing Stage MegaMix had the potential to be a great game, but it's flawed by an almost terrible song list. When I play it I can't help but feel what a missed opportunity it is, especially when I scroll through the songs list in about 2 seconds. It took my PS2 longer to read the game disc than it did to unlock everything in this game. My final advice would be:

Newcomers - 8/10 *get Party Edition, not only is it cheaper, but it's a better game.*
Non-importer - 6/10 *wait for a few weeks and pick this up second hand from people who've returned it.*
Importer - 4/10 *pick up MAX2 on import.*

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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