Ever since Konami announced earlier this year that "Dance Dance Revolution" would be coming to the Nintendo Wii, fans of the popular series have been wondering how the game would incorporate hand movements into the foot stomping of versions past.
Well I'm pretty sure that nobody will mistake my Wii remote and nunchaku shakes for Tony Manero's signature "Saturday Night Fever" moves, but the extra controls in "Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party" (Rated E, $69.99) do add another dimension to an already entertaining franchise.
The bundle comes with one dance mat, which connects to the Wii through the GameCube controller ports atop the console.
Up to four dancers can play at once, but each needs their own dance pad — an older GameCube pad from "DDR: Mario Mix" will work fine — as well as their own Wii remote and nunchaku.
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Basic game play is similar to previous "DDR" titles.
Arrows scroll up from the bottom of the screen, prompting dancers to stomp the pad's left, right, up and down arrow squares as the corresponding arrows reach the "step zone."
You build up your dance gauge when you stay in beat, and the crowd grows impatient when you mess up. And yes, you're graded at the end.
New diamond-shaped hand markers mean your arms can no longer swing aimlessly while your feet do all the work. When one of these icons appears in the left or right columns, give the Wii remote or nunchaku a wrist flick in a motion similar to a drum beat.
Gimmick icons such as double stomps, foot confusers and hand and foot missiles further complicate performances.
The game offers three main modes:
— In groove circuit, players are presented with a series of challenges as they move between venues. Complete a challenge by hitting a certain number of combos or beating the venue master and you'll unlock new songs, venues and stages.
— Workout mode lets players set up profiles and set custom goals as they track their calories burned.
— Free play lets you pick your song, venue and level. Dance by yourself, battle a computer or human opponent or cooperate in either friendship mode (players get credit if either hits a particular step) or sync mode (players get credit only if both get it right).
"DDR: Hottest Party" provides a decent mix of new and classic songs, although my oldest son complains that there should be more hip-hop titles.
The colorful graphics are adequate, but the background dancers who strut their stuff during songs have little to do with game play.
Another complaint: There's no obvious way to quit a song and start over if you get off to a bad start. We found out by accident that you can speed up an imminent demise by holding a foot down on the dance pad's plus icon.
With dozens of songs, four difficulty levels and plenty of game modes, "Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party" should prove a worthwhile purchase for both newbies and longtime fans.
The added hand movements do enough on their own to advance the series.
Three out of four stars.