Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dance Dance Retrospective: 2ndMIX

Well, I'm sorry for the wall of text that I subjected you to in the last entry of Dance Dance Retrospective, especially considering the fact that there was some stuff you already knew... and a lot you didn't.  But now that I got the basics out of the way, I won't need to repeat them in subsequent entries.  And DDR isn't a franchise that changes too much between entries, for better or for worse.  So with that in mind, the changes in DDR 2ndMIX should pop out all the more.

Dance Dance Revolution 2ndMIX was released in Japan for the arcades in 29 January 1999 (my birthday! ^v^), PlayStation in August, and in a first, Sega Dreamcast in February 2000.  Most of the interface was carried over from DDR 1st, as were all of the songs (except on the PSX version).  What has changed, however, is for the better, especially on the mode select screen.  The Easy, Normal, and Hard setlists work the same as they did in 1st, but it's much easier to select your difficulty level.  Again, you can't change it after you leave this screen, but all you have to do is press the up or down panel twice in a row to toggle between the Basic, Another, and Maniac levels.  And as if this were not enough, if you highlight the Hard mode and press right four times, you can play with all the songs in the game available at once.  Yes, finally, we don't have to stand for artificial content lockouts anymore!

It's also easier to access the Double mode in this game.  Before starting the game, hold the left and right menu buttons and press start (Arcade), press Circle (PSX), or press Start (Dreamcast).  This will let you choose between Single, Versus, Couple, and Double.  Note that this is the same way you can access the two-player modes in 1st (sans Double); sorry I forgot to mention that.  Switching on the other modifiers is, however, another story.  On the music select screen, you have to input longer codes, but you have more modifiers to choose from.  Mirror is joined by Left, Right, and Shuffle, which rotate the steps in different ways.  Hidden makes the arrows disappear halfway up the screen, and Little simplifies the sequences by removing all but the quarter notes (you will not be able to score as high with Little on).

Some of the most notable songs from 2ndMIX are:
  • "Boom Boom Dollar" by King Kong & D. Jungle Girls.  This song was originally released by the Italian band in 1989.  Considering the fact that there are no new level-1 songs in 2ndMIX, this is one of the easiest new songs, at level 2 on Basic.
  • "Brilliant 2U" by Naoki.  A Euro-rave song composed by Naoki Maeda.  This hyper little tune, clocking in at a brisk 150 BPM, served more or less as a template for many of Naoki's most famous songs from future games.
  • "AM-3P" by kTz.  A robotic techno/disco song also composed by Naoki Maeda.  There are a lot of irregular "chaos" steps (16th notes if you're good with music) in this song, even on Basic (level 5).  In fact, there are plenty of other songs that feature similar syncopated patterns, like "El Ritmo Tropical" and "Get Up'n Move".  This is one pattern you should get used to.
  • "PARANOiA Max (Dirty Mix)" by 190.  A remix of "PARANOiA" from the first game, PARANOiA Max is a touch faster than the original and arguably more popular for some reason.  Other than that, the difficulty is similar to the original - which is to say, very hard for its time.
Gameplay is, obviously, the same as it was in 1st, as is the scoring system.  However, there's no extra stages after you're done, just like I warned you.  But if you've got one of the import home versions, the fun doesn't stop there.  The exclusive Paint Mode lets you draw new arrow shapes, Nonstop Revolution lets you play user-defined sets of songs in a row, and Edit Mode lets you design your own step sequences for use in the game.  In fact, Konami re-released the arcade version of 2ndMIX, the Link Version, which includes 5 new songs and ports for PlayStation memory cards that let you play your Edit steps in the arcade game!  From then on, the memory card ports became an option for later core series arcade games.  You might even spot one plugged into an imported machine near you, but be warned: they only accept edit data made on the Japanese home games.  So, sorry Konamix owners. :-(

But it doesn't stop there.  Konami also released two different "Club Versions" of DDR based on the 2ndMIX engine.  But rather than use any of the existing songs from 1st or 2ndMIX, all the songs in the club versions were transplants from Konami's beatmania and beatmania IIDX series of DJ simulation games.  I'll get more into that when we explore the rest of the Bemani family.  The arcade versions had the ability to link up with a beatmania IIDX cabinet, allowing up to 2 players of either game to make beautiful music together.  The club versions were also released as 2 games for PlayStation and one for Dreamcast.  However, to play the PSX versions, you have to put in a copy of 2ndMIX and change the disc from the main menu.  This also means that you can't even play the PSX club versions as imports if you're using a disc-swap device like the GameShark.  Sorry. :-(

I promise things will brighten up with 3rdMIX.

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