Since debuting in Japanese arcades in the late 1990s, Konami's Dance Dance Revolution series has become a phenomenon rarely matched in the video game world. Home versions of the game cropped up in North American beginning in 2001, and console releases have continued pouring out in a steady stream ever since. As we found out during today's Konami press event, that output won't be slowing down any time soon; the company is currently working on three separate DDR games: SuperNOVA (for the PlayStation 2), Ultramix 4 (for the Xbox), and Universe (Xbox 360), which also serves as the next-gen debut for the series.
The most important news for diehard DDR fans is, of course, the tracklisting. If you want to see the announced tracks for SuperNOVA and Ultramix 4, check out today's news story. No track information has yet been released for the Xbox 360 game, and producers assured us that there are still a good number of unlockable songs that have yet to be announced for each game.
The PlayStation 2 game, Dance Dance Revolution SuperNOVA, is basically a console version of the arcade game that just recently hit arcades. While much of the content is shared between the two versions of the game, the PS2 version will have a number of exclusive PS2-only tracks and will support a cool-sounding link feature. Here, DDR fanatics will be able to program their own dance steps on the PS2 version of the game, save it to a memory card, then take the card to the arcade version of the game and upload those same step routines to the arcade version of SuperNOVA. In addition, the PS2 game will include things like online play, improved tutorial and training modes, a new battle mode, as well as EyeToy support. SuperNOVA is due for release at the end of September.
In keeping with Konami's strategy of creating distinct versions of DDR for different consoles, the Xbox's Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix 4 has no ties to any arcade DDR machines (beyond a few coincidental song overlaps). The game will take advantage of Xbox Live features, and will let you play with up to three other dancers, chatting all the while with the XBL headset. In addition, the game will support new song-pack downloads, which will be released after the game hits store shelves at the end of November. As an added bonus, if you own previous Ultramix entries and have downloaded older song packs for those games, those songs will be automatically added to your Ultramix 4 song list. In addition, the game will feature new modes such as a supereasy mode for true beginners.
The next-gen debut for the series, Dance Dance Revolution Universe, is looking to take the concept of song downloads to the next level. In older Xbox versions of the game, song packs were only downloadable in packs of five (because the minimum transaction in the first of Xbox Live was five bucks). Though song packs look to still be a part of DDR Universe, we're hoping that, now that microtransactions are a part of the Xbox 360 version of XBL, we'll be able to download individual songs for the game. It would be even better if you could preview a tune before purchasing it, to make sure it fit your DDR style. As for now, game producers are still working out the structure for downloading new tunes for DDR Universe.
Things we do know for sure about Universe, however, are that you'll have the ability to create your own dance routines for the game and then upload them to a server, where folks can download them and try them out for themselves. Of course, you'll be able to upload new steps for yourself, as well. In addition, the game will feature extended mixes of groups of songs for use in marathon dance sessions--though a song list has not yet been announced. In past games you could mix songs together, but there would be a brief pause as each new song loaded up. In Universe, each song sequence has been specifically mixed to transition smoothly from one tune to the next, which should help you burn off those extra calories in the process. Finally, the game is set to include play for up to four players offline and online, as well as enhanced versions of popular features such as workout, quest, and party mode. DDR Universe is set for release in either late 2006 or early 2007.