DDRMAX2 Dance Dance Revolution (Playstation 2)Gaming Software
Year Released: 2004
Categories: Interactive/Gaming System Workouts
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If you're new to DDR and already have a PS2, DDRMAX2 from 2003 is what I would recommend to begin with. It is the most beginner-friendly of the PS2 DDR games, yet it has challenges even for seasoned players, and costs less than the newer releases.
MAX2 introduces Beginner step patterns that are even easier than the previously-lowest Light level, and the beginner dances are accompanied with a graphic of a dancer on a pad facing away from you, so you can literally follow along with the dancer's feet. (This is the closest DDR gets to a conventional workout video.) Like its predecessor DDRMAX, MAX2 has a Training mode that allows you to slow down the tempo of a song as well as add handclaps and beats as aids. This useful music-slowing feature is not found in the later releases Extreme, Extreme2 and SuperNOVA for some reason. MAX2 also has a Lesson mode that walks you through a tutorial from basic pad-stepping to more fancy footwork.
Workout mode is similar to MAX, but MAX2 adds the ability to create workout courses. You can program up to 3 courses each containing up to 20 songs, in your choice of difficulties, to play in a continuous string. I created a 20-song course in Standard and Heavy difficulties; it's slightly over 30 minutes long and typically burns 400-450 calories at my weight. The game includes a calorie counter that is calculated by entering your weight and counting steps, and you can set goals by either time played or calories burned in a session. If you choose to play individual songs in Workout mode instead of courses, a chart appears after each song that shows remaining time or calories left before reaching your goal, plus the total number of calories burned, average calories burned per workout and equivalent amounts of jogging, jumping rope and swimming. Hitting another button brings up a chart showing the calories burned each day, and your weight, hopefully on a downward trend. The chart is rather hard to read and is more of a comparison, but the calorie counter seems pretty accurate when compared with my HRM.
When playing individual songs in Workout mode, you can turn Workout Step "on" to delete some of the normal steps and make the songs easier. However, even if you turn Workout Step off to play in normal mode, for some reason all the freeze steps (where you have to hold your foot down on an arrow for several seconds) are turned off. To turn them back on, when selecting a song you have to hold your foot down on the X button so that the modifications menu comes up, and then manually turn freezes back on. This is rather annoying for experienced players, and the only real gripe I have about DDRMAX2.
The game mode is modeled after the arcade version, meaning you can have up to 5 songs (or "stages") with a score and grade after each one, and an overall score and grade at the end. Then it drops you out to the credits and main menu. I prefer the game mode on the newer versions where songs are scored individually and you don't get kicked back to the menu each time. MAX2 also lets you play multiple-song courses (either preprogrammed or custom) in Nonstop mode, and there is a new Endless mode where you just keep playing songs at random, on one difficulty, until you fail out or just quit in exhaustion. I like to play doubles in Endless mode since only single pad play is allowed in Workout mode. Two can compete in Versus or Nonstop mode, and can play on different difficulties if they wish.
The song list has more licenses and more videos than MAX did. Licenses include KC and the Sunshine Band's Get Down Tonight, Busy Child by Crystal Method, Days Go By by Dirty Vegas, Twilight Zone by 2Unlimited, and soundalike versions of Let's Groove, In The Navy and Long Train Runnin' (yes, the old Doobie Brothers hit). Locked songs are unlocked simply by playing the game, which I much prefer over having to play that Dance Master game on Extreme 2. The graphics are a tad anime/cheesy, but they're fine art compared to DDR Ultramix 3, and everything's easy to make out with the exception of that workout graph.
Priced at under $30 new at most stores, DDRMAX2 has stood the test of time and is a superb way to step into the DDR world. Grade: A+