The act of dancing has always been a sure sign of happiness and health, but for Konami it's also been a great creator of wealth. And with Dance Dance Revolution: SuperNOVA 2, Konami is looking to squeeze a little bit more out of the dance-dancing public. If you're among the legions of twinkle-toed gamers just itching for an excuse to tap your feet to a virtual beat, you may want to give SuperNOVA 2 a look. But if you aren't already sold on the franchise, now is definitely not the time to buy. That's because the series has been doing a bit of an electric slide since its heyday in the early part of this decade. It's not that the games have been getting any worse over the years, just that they've been dancing in place, and SuperNOVA 2 is hardly an exception.
So what's new in SuperNOVA 2? Well, the 70-song tracklist for starters, which features more Western pop music than previous games, including Justin Timberlake's "Rock Your Body," Sean Paul's "Temperature," Fatboy Slim's "The Rockafeller Skank," Paul Oakenfold's "Faster Kill Pussycat," a remixed version of Britney Spears' "And Then We Kiss," as well as older favorites such as A-Ha's "Take On Me" and Chic's "Le Freak." Several of the Western tracks also have music videos, though few are very interesting, except perhaps Goldfrapp's "Number 1." This list is a bit more accessible than others in DDR history, though the game itself is mostly the same.
In case you don't know what we're talking about, Dance Dance Revolution has always challenged players to match the steps that scroll up their screens by tapping their feet on a dance pad to the rhythm of this or that funky beat. When you start it up, you'll be presented with a group of play options that include the imaginatively titled game mode, the intimidating hyper master mode (don't worry, it isn't just for hyper masters), workout mode, training mode, edit mode, and online play. Game mode actually lives up to its name as a totally generic mode you can jump into if you simply want to dance around a little. Hyper master mode is the meat of the single-player experience, and is separated into levels containing challenges and a boss song. The challenges usually task you with achieving a certain rank in a song, or racking up a big combo, and the boss songs are just difficult songs that become available for purchase in the shop when you beat them.
That's all very, very ordinary for a DDR game. Less ordinary are the custom modules you unlock upon completing challenges. Some of these are support modules that give your dancer little performance bonuses, and some are challenge modules that make the game even more difficult. These are nice because the support modules can help you get past challenges you're having trouble with, and likewise the challenge modules unlock special rewards if you beat challenges with them equipped. So not only do these help you progress through hyper master mode your first time, but they also make it worth playing through again to unlock even more content. Now if only this were all couched in some kind of real-world or interstellar context, we'd have a solid single-player campaign on our hands.
Aside from the tracklist and the custom modules, SuperNOVA 2 is essentially the same as its predecessor, SuperNOVA the first. Workout mode is still here and is still a waste of time. Advanced mode returns, and contains such variants as course (play a few songs), battle (head-to-head), survival, combo, and endless. You can also create your own dance steps in edit mode, work on difficult routines in training mode, and flail around with the Eye Toy, which unfortunately isn't as fun as it sounds. One or two players can play offline, and up to four can play online. Then again, since SuperNOVA 2 isn't a strong, competitive game, the online option is really just a chance to chat with strangers while you play DDR--just as it was last year.
The game looks fine, with your large motion-capped dancer busting real dance moves while you jump around on the mat. The production values are slightly worse than last year, simply because they're the same as they were last year. And that's pretty much the story of Dance Dance Revolution: SuperNOVA 2; it's more of Dance Dance Revolution: SuperNOVA. If 70 new songs are worth 40 spent bucks to you, go ahead and ask this game to dance. Otherwise, wait for something catchier to come along.