Back in 2005, Konami and Nintendo surprised us all by announcing they were teaming up to release a new entry in the Dance Dance Revolution universe starring characters from Nintendo’s flagship series, Super Mario Bros. Most people will go into this not expecting the complete foot-burning DDR experience, and it’s these people in particular that will be satisfied with what Konami have done with this title.
For those unfamiliar with the Dance Dance Revolution experience, it’s quite simple. You choose a song to your liking, and when the song starts, arrows will appear from the bottom of the screen and scroll upwards. You will have your own arrows at the top of the screen, and when the scrolling arrows pass over the top, you will need to execute a nicely timed step in that direction on the dance mat: the higher a combo you can string, the greater your score for the end of the song. It’s an easy concept to pick up but, in the greater difficulty levels especially, can be quite difficult to master.
In a first for a Mario game, Waluigi takes a prominent role in the storyline, and if the story is anything to go by in this game, will probably be the last time he gets involved. You see, he’s stolen the Music Keys which apparently contain the power of music! He’s then somehow managed to wrangle the chaotic power of music to cause floods, whirlpools and other disasters. Oh dear!
As weak as the story is, you’ll want to play through it to unlock all the music for the standard DDR mode, which while not as hard-as-nails as other DDR games can get, comes as a very satisfying experience for Nintendo fans and DDR fans alike. Konami have obviously gone into this title wanting to introduce a new batch of gamers to the DDR universe, as Easy mode does not utilise the Up and Down arrows whatsoever, meaning veterans will scramble to skip straight to the Hard and Very Hard modes.
The game contains a total of 29 tracks, standard fare for the DDR series, although one a nice touch tells you the song name, the game it appears in and what original track it was based off, though not all songs are game-related. For example, “Here We Go!” is based on the Overworld music of Super Mario Bros., while “Pipe Pop” is based off the classic Mozart tune “Turkish March”. There is enough variety in the music that there should be something for everyone, but we can’t help but feel a few dance versions of other Nintendo properties would have been a nicer touch.
Included in the game and exclusive to this release is the advent of Mush Mode. Acting as a minigame inside a standard dance, some levels will have you step twice on a Koopa Trooper in time to the beat, others will have you stepping on the appropriate arrow to send a Bob-Omb at your opponent. There is a nice variety and it really adds to the experience and gives you something different to do when you get sick of stepping on arrows.
At the time of release, the only way to enjoy multiplayer Mario Mix would have been if you had a friend who also got a Mario Dance Mat with their game, or if you ordered a second one through Nintendo’s online store. With the release of DDR: Hottest Party 1 and 2 on the Wii, this doesn’t pose as much of a problem as it did. Multiplayer Mario Mix in Mush Mode (or MMM in MM for short!) is a joy to play, and worth delving into if you’ve got a couple of dance partners. The less intimidating difficulty of the dance routines makes multiplayer more accessible for lesser abled friends and family members.
While it's not likely to give you callouses on your feet, Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix offers a fun introduction to the DDR universe, with a selection of tracks which might not be the strongest in the series, but do the job well enough. If you're a fan of Dance Dance Revolution, or just a fan of the Mario series in general, this is definitely worth a go.