Several months ago, in one of my commentaries, I came out of the DDR closet and have been open about it ever since. I knew I had nothing to be ashamed of. I'm a DDR addict and I am proud of it.
In a more recent commentary, I even had the dilemma of deciding on whether to pick up the latest US DDR title (DDRMAX2, hereafter referred to as MAX2) or to import DDR Extreme (DDRX). After researching the track lists of both games, I decided to give both of them a try, and needless to say I am pleased with both releases, but I still feel that Japanese PS2 owners (or those like me who have their system altered) get the better deal.
For the limited few who still don't know the concept of DDR, it is very simple to play. DDR uses a special floor-based controller of four arrows. During the game, arrows move up onto the screen, and when they get to the top, players must step on the accompanying arrow on the controller. With each step, there will be a rating given of Perfect, Great, Good, Miss (Almost in MAX2), and Boo. These ratings will build to a final grade from E (failed) to AAA (all Perfects) While simple in concept, it is only the beginning.
Skilled players not only get the tracks memorized, they even add their own special moves. Attend any DDR tournament or check out video clips at bemanix.com, and you will see what I mean. Most DDR addicts look down at the home versions, but to me it's a good way to warm up for the arcades and tournaments.
Both MAX2 and DDRX feature the following modes: Arcade, Workout (or Diet in DDRX), Training and Lesson. Each mode allows tracks to be selected in four difficulty levels: Beginner (a new mode), Light, Standard, and Heavy. There is also a nonstop mode available, where four to nine tracks will play in succession without any pauses at all.
DDRX also includes a more difficult Oni mode, which plays identical to Nonstop mode, except the basis is on getting Great or Perfect steps. Each step lower than a Great, resulting in a broken combo, costs one of three lives. Lose them all, and the mode ends. Sad to say, it is nonexistent in MAX2, which doesn't make since it was in the previous DDRMAX.
MAX2 is a little strange in the visual department though. While a majority of tracks feature the classic DDR backgrounds, some of the songs feature FMV music videos. It might seem a little strange at first, but it does work out at times. As a bonus, cel-shaded dancers can be added as well, in remembrance of the first 5 DDR mixes.
The biggest factor in deciding which game to favor involves the track selection. MAX2 features over 60 songs, but the biggest difference is that there are songs designed exclusively for the US. Performances by Crystal Method, KC & the Sunshine Band, Kylie Minogue, and Dirty Vegas (whose Days Gone By was used for the Mitsubishi car ads where that woman in the passenger seat is having a seizure.) This might be good for US gamers, but fans of the arcade might be turned off by them.
DDRX, on the other hand comes packed with over 110 songs. It is a short cry from the 200+ in the arcade, but for the home release it is still massive, and yes they are all in the arcade version.
In the end, both games are worthy additions for DDR fans. It must be mentioned though that DDRX is a Japanese import, and will ONLY run on Japanese PS2s or units that are altered to handle import games. If that is done, Extreme is the better choice.