DDRMAX Dance Dance Revolution (Playstation 2)

Gaming Software
Year Released: 2003

Categories: Interactive/Gaming System Workouts

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DDRMAX was the first DDR game for the Playstation 2, released in 2002, and it does look dated compared to recent DDR releases. I prefer the Ultramix games for the Xbox for workout purposes, but MAX is still enjoyable, with a solid soundtrack, and there are some things about it I actually like better than the later PS2 release DDRMAX2.

The workout interface is similar to MAX2 and Ultramix: you first go to a screen where you enter your weight, your "goal" for that session (either calories burned or play time), calorie or time amount, and session difficulty (1, 2 or 3 stars, with 3 being the same steps as the game, including freezes). The PS2 records the date, but unlike the Xbox with its hard drive, you need to buy a separate memory card to record any data from the session. If you have a card inserted, it will automatically recall the data from your last workout. You then hit X to go to the song wheel, select a song and get dancin'.

The play screen has no scoring or grading, but there is a life bar that shrinks and then flashes red if you miss steps. You can make the bar a little less "harsh" by going to Options -> Game Options from the main menu and lowering the difficulty, but you can't get rid of it completely even though it's totally irrelevant in the workout mode. Also shown on the screen is number of calories burned and amount of time spent playing that session.

At the song's conclusion, a stat-loaded screen comes up that tells you calories burned that song, overall calories that session, overall calories overall, average calories burned per workout and comparative amounts of jogging, swimming and jumping rope. The upper corner tells how much time or calories are remaining toward the goal you selected. Once you reach your goal, it'll say "goal attained" but you can continue playing if you wish. Hitting the O button shows a graph showing calories burned each workout day and the trend of your weight (similar to DDR Ultramix). 2 people can work out simultaneously on the PS2, vs. 4 on the Xbox.

Unlike Ultramix 2, DDRMAX doesn't have a continuous, "endless" workout mode; you have to pause after each song to press buttons and select the next song. This is good if you like to be able to select your own songs and vary the difficulties, or if you want to do a circuit style workout with weight training during the pauses. But the endless workout mode of UM2 provides a constant, calorie-burning endurance workout. I'd say it's an apples-and-oranges difference; if you get as hooked on DDR as me, you'll want to own both!

The game mode is very true to the arcade version, which is to say old-fashioned, clunky and far more suited to arcades than the home. You get up to 5 songs per game (which you select via the Options screen) and at least you can shut off the 90-second time limit for selecting songs, as well as choose to continue to the end of the song even if you fail. But at game's end, you get a credit screen which you have to hit Select to get out of, then you get kicked back to the main menu. I like the Ultramix game mode much better where you get scored per song, allowing you to vary the length of the game. For beginners, MAX has a tutorial mode and a training mode (where you can slow down the tempo or repeat sections) but no beginner-level choreography like in MAX2, Extreme or UM2.

There aren't many licensed songs on DDRMAX - "Ordinary World" (originally by Duran Duran) and "I Like to Move It" are the only ones I recognized - but overall, I like the song list. There are some locked songs that you're forced to play the game mode in order to unlock, whereas MAX2 unlocks songs in workout mode. I hate having to unlock songs; just give us what we paid for, dangit. The visuals are as gaudy and cheesy as an old Firm, but at least the arrows are nice and big and easy to see.

I give DDRMAX an A-, to be upgraded to an A when the price gets reduced for its age. Look for it on the used-games rack.

Instructor Comments:

Sue B