display | more...

DDR MAX

By: Konami

Released: October 2001

"Let's Max!" was being heard all around arcades in Japan in late 2001, as the 6th Mix of Dance Dance Revolution was released, presenting fans with a new selection of songs - and also a number of changes to what was one of the most popular series of games to hit Japan in a long time.

The machine was officially known as DDR MAX, but the marquee also mentioned "Dance Dance Revolution 6th Mix" on it, to make it clear to the players that this was a continuation of the series. The hardware requirements had not changed - the upgrade version could be tossed into any existing DDR machine, making it clearly not a jump like BeatMania IIDX was to BeatMania.

The interface was a somewhat more advanced version of the one found in Dance Dance Revolution 5th Mix, as it had proven to be popular with players, and offered an easy method of presenting a large number of songs to choose from without being too difficult to navigate. This was necessary as the number of songs per mix had been increasing for each mix - over 100 songs in 5th, as opposed to only 9 in the original.

They also replaced the background images of dancing characters and simple animations - instead going with full streaming video in compressed MPEG2 format. This adds more eye candy, and draws more attention from people wandering by the machine.

Scoring

Along with a the new interface that each mix of DDR seems to have, comes a change in the scoring method - and DDR MAX is no exception here, though it is very similar to the 5th mix scoring system. Each step scores according to:

p * (B/S) * n

where p is the score multiplier (10 for perfect, 5 for great, 1 for all others), n is the number of the current step, B is the base score (5,000,000), and S is the sum of all integers from 1 to n. The key result here is that all perfects earns a base score of 50,000,000.

Added on top of that is up to 50,000,000 in bonuses, depending on the rating of the song in the "groove radar" (see below). Resulting in a max score for one song of 100,000,000.

The grading system is also new. Each step affects running total of your "dance points". A Perfect gains 2, a Great gains 1, a Good is no change, a Boo subtracts 4, a Miss subtracts 8, and a successful freeze arrow adds 6. (A missed freeze does nothing). Your grade is determined by the number of dance points you have. 100% earns a AAA, 93% earns a AA, 80% is an A, 65% is a B, 45% is a C, anything below, but passing the song, earns a D, and a failure is an E.

The change to "DDR MAX" was more than just cosmetic. They changed the manner of presenting the difficulty of a song's steps. Previously, songs had been rated by the "number of feet" - a value between 1 and 9, with higher meaning harder. That was now gone, with a "groove radar" presenting much more detailed difficulty information. The "groove radar" consisted of a circle, and on the circle, a song's difficulty would be plotted using five different points - the further from the center each point is, the higher the value. A song would be rated in "chaos" - or how much the step patterns varied during the song, "voltage" - the peak density of steps, "air" - the number of jumps during the song, "stream" - the overall density of steps, and "freeze" - the number of freeze arrows.

Gameplay

Freeze arrows? Yes, DDR MAX also presents a new game mechanic for players, freeze arrows. Unlike the standard arrows, which just require stepping on the pad at the correct time, freeze arrows require you to keep standing on that pad for the length of the arrow. Step off too song, or shift your weight too much, and you get a "No Good" for the arrow, and your score suffers. The freeze arrow adds a new element to gameplay, as you will find you no longer always have both feet to choose from when stepping on an arrow, and putting the wrong foot on a freeze arrow can force you to step off it, or end up facing or moving the wrong direction for future arrows.

While they're very interesting, if you really don't like the freeze arrows, then you're free to turn them off at the song options screen. Yes, this is also new - hold down the "start" button when selecting a song, and you get a large options screen where you can select from all of the possible song modifiers. No longer do you have to enter codes on the pad before the song - though you can still do that. And in the process, they've added more song modifiers. You can speed up the arrows all the way to 8x the normal rate, and learn to read and react very quickly. Select "reverse", and adjust to the arrows going DOWN the screen instead of up. Choose "dark", and watch the gray arrow receptacles disappear. Or add "boost", and watch the arrows start slowly, and speed up as they move across the screen.

They've also added another game mechanic - extra stages! Do well enough on your last song, and you go to play the extra stage, which is played with modifiers of 1.5x, reverse, boost, and dark - and a life bar that starts full, but after going down, never grows again. Do well enough on the extra stage, and play a second extra stage - which requires you to keep a full combo throughout the song, or fail instantly.

Music

But what about the music? After all, the biggest part of Dance Dance Revolution is the music - nobody wants to play if it isn't any good. Well, to signify the change to "DDR MAX", Konami has decided to make a clean break with the music - every song is all new. The 42 songs on the game, while they contain a few new mixes of previous songs, have never been seen in DDR before. There's a mix of new Konami originals, such as Look to the Sky and Exotic Ethnic, and licensed songs, such as Twilight Zone by 2 Unlimited and Ordinary World by Aurora feat. Naimee Coleman - along with more songs by Be For U, the group created by Konami with DDR in mind, but that's creating music for the radio.

Not all of the music on this mix is immediately playable - certain songs start off either hidden, or only playable as extra stages. You can unlock them through play, or by entering a special "unlock code" into the machine in operator mode - which requires the game to be opened up, so it's not available for just anyone to do.

The music has also upped the ante in terms of difficulty. A new song takes over the claim of the fastest DDR song, grabbing it away from the tough "Drop Out" - Max 300, with a vicious 300 BPM, making it the toughest DDR song at this point. It's not the only tough one, as other songs present some tricky steps that can be both erratic and completely off-beat - such as "So Deep", the toughest song next to Max 300, with a full 522 steps in about 100 seconds of music - or over 5 steps a second.

Evaluation

While DDR MAX did well in arcades, it was also criticised. Fans found the groove radar a poor replacement for the foot difficulty rating, resulting in both being found in DDR MAX 2. And while the music was very well received - the game's soundtrack is considered the best of the DDR series so far - the sudden drop in the number of songs from 5th mix to DDR MAX (over 100 down to 42), resulted in the game getting rather old quickly.

As a result, DDR MAX machines ended up being quickly converted to DDR MAX 2 when it was released, with the latter having a huge song selection, including almost everything from MAX - only 5 songs didn't make it to MAX 2.

DDR MAX Complete Song List

Difficulty ratings (in feet) are listed after the song - with single ratings first, double ratings second. Songs with no ratings were not present in MAX 2 to be given such ratings.

                                                                  Single            Double
Song                                     Artist               LGT   STD   HVY   LGT   STD   HVY
Bye Bye Baby Balloon                     Joga
Candy★                                   Luv unlimited         4     5     8     4     6     9
Cowgirl                                  Bambee                3     5     8     3     4     7    
Dive (more deep & deeper style)          Be For U              3     5     7     2     5     6
Do It Right                              SOTA feat. Ebony Fay  4     5     7     4     5     8
Do You Remember Me                       Jenny                 2     5     8     2     5     9
Exotic Ethnic                            RevenG                4     5     9     4     6     9
Fantasy                                  Melissa               3     5     9     1     6     9
Firefly                                  Be For U              1     5     7     2     5     8
Flash In the Night                       Flashman  
Follow Me                                Lady Baby
Ghosts (Vincent De Moor Original Mix)    Tenth Planet
Groove                                   Sho-T feat. Brenda    4     6     8     3     6     8
Groove 2001                              Sho-T feat. Brenda    4     6     7     4     6     7
Healing Vision (Angelic mix)             2MB                   5     7     9     5     7     9
Highs Off U (Scorccio XY Mix)            4 Reeel               1     5     7     2     5     8 
I'm in the Mood for Dancing              Sharon                3     5     8     3     4     7
Justify My Love                          Tess                  2     5     9     3     4     7
Let the beat hit em! (Classic R&B Style) Stone Bros.           3     5     6     3     5     6
Let's Groove                          Tips & Tricks vs Wisdome 2     5     6     3     4     7
Look To The Sky                         System S.F. feat. Anna 3     5     7     2     5     7 
Lovin' You (Rob Searle Club Mix)         Vinyl Baby            2     6     8     3     5     8
Max 300                                  Ω                     6     8     10    6     8     10
Midnite Blaze                            U1 Jewel Style        4     6     7     4     5     8    
Miracle                                  St. Jannaro           2     5     7     2     5     8
My Sweet Darlin'                         Wildside              3     4     8     4     5     8
Nori Nori Nori                           Judy Crystal          3     5     7     3     5     8    
On the Jazz                              Jonny Dynamite!       2     5     7     3     5     7
Ordinary World                     Aurora feat. Naimee Coleman 1     4     7     4     5     7 
Orion .78 (civilization mix)             2MB                   6     8     9     6     8     9
Share My Love                            Julie Frost           3     4     5     3     4     5
So Deep (Perfect Sphere Remix)           Silvertear            3     5     9     2     6     9
そばかす Freckles                         Tiggy                 3     5     7     4     5     8
Somewhere Over the Rainbow               Cosmic Game           3     5     7     3     5     7
Telephone Operator (Club Mix)            Shelley Peter
The Centre Of The Heart (Stonebridge Club Mix)  Roxette        2     5     7     2     5     7
true... ~trance sunrise mix~             Kosaka Riyu           3     5     8     3     6     8 
true... ~radio edit~                     Kosaka Riyu           2     5     7     3     5     7
Twilight Zone (R-C Extended Club Mix)    2 Unlimited           3     5     9     3     5     8    
Witch Doctor (Giants Toons Version)      Cartoons              3     4     8     2     6     8    
WWW.Blonde Girl (momo mix)               Jenny Rom             1     4     7     2     4     7
Yozora No Muko                           Eurobeat Lovers       2     5     8     2     4     9

Sources:
Aaron in Japan's DDR Pages, http://www.aaroninjapan.com
DDRFreak.com, http://www.ddrfreak.com

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.