I needed to share this... :)
By Chris Kohler | Wired News...
02:00 AM May. 24, 2005 PT
Think Dance Dance Revolution is a fad?
Sure, the novel arcade game that had millions of gamers stepping and hopping their way to high scores and slimmer waistlines might sound like yesterday's news. But at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, a handful of novel new music games were shown, proving that the genre isn't merely a one-hit wonder.
The bulk of this year's music games came from Konami, the creators of DDR, and thus the publisher most responsible for introducing the concept to the world. New games in the series will be released for both the PS2 and Xbox this year, titled Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2 and Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix 3, respectively. For the first time, the PlayStation 2 game will include online play, which the Xbox versions have always featured.
While the DDR sequels carry on the genre, two more games from Konami add new experiences to the music gamer's repertoire. This year will see the long-awaited first U.S. release of Beatmania, a game that's been popular in Japanese arcades since the mid-'90s. The game plays like an intensely fast electronica version of DDR controlled with the fingertips -- as notes fall from the top of the screen, the player taps buttons and scratches a "turntable" on a special tabletop controller, which will be included with the PlayStation 2 software.
But the most compelling software at Konami's booth was Karaoke Revolution Party, a game that combines DDR with the popular microphone-controlled sing-along.
Though players can choose the normal gameplay mode in which they sing along to popular karaoke favorites like "I Love Rock And Roll" and "Take On Me," the unique draw is the Sing and Dance mode. Players can plug in their DDR pads to dance and sing at the same time.
It's like trying to pat your head and rub your stomach. While both are easy on their own, it's very difficult to do both simultaneously -- and you can't stop trying. Madcap hijinx will surely ensue. The PlayStation 2 version of the game will include support for the EyeToy camera peripheral, so you can watch as you make a fool of yourself.
But it's not just Konami working to expand the world of console games played with musical instruments. Outfits who up until now have made their fortunes on the periphery of the business by producing aftermarket control pads for the games are about to launch software of their own.
Behind closed doors at E3, Red Octane showed off a riotously fun game called Guitar Hero, also created by Karaoke Revolution Party developers Harmonix. Drawing its inspiration from Guitar Freaks -- an arcade game that Konami never brought to the United States -- Guitar Hero lets the player rock out to guitar hits like "Smoke on the Water."
The player uses an elaborate plastic guitar controller that straps over the shoulder. Notes come down from the bottom of the screen, the player has to hold down the appropriate button on the neck of the guitar, then "strum" using a lever on the body. On sustained notes, the player will be able to use a whammy bar for extra realism.
With tight gameplay and an excellent song list, Guitar Hero is one to watch. But that's not all Red Octane has lined up for fans of its high-quality dance pad controllers -- next month, the company will ship its first title, a dance pad game called In the Groove.
While Red Octane's game will be compatible with players' existing pads, two new games from peripheral manufacturer Mad Catz will require their own special mats (which will be packaged with the software).
On PS2 and Xbox, the company will team with publisher Mastiff to release Pump It Up: Exceed, the first home version of the popular Korean-developed arcade dance game. The pad is similar to the standard DDR controller, but features five buttons, arranged in an X pattern as opposed to DDR's simple up-down-left-right configuration.
And perhaps most bizarrely, Mad Catz will ship a title called Country Dance Craze on the Xbox. Mad Catz' executives point out that country music is one of the only genres that is currently seeing a rise in popularity. The game is played with a double-wide control mat that allows the player to learn authentic country line dances.
One thing's for sure: This year, whether you're an aspiring singer in an '80s hair band, a wannabe hard rocker, a DJ in training or a future line dancing superstar, there will be a video game that gets you one step closer to achieving your dream.