This kid is just ridiculous!!!
The biggest issue with transitioning to a new game system is always having to purchase a new library of games to use with it. The Wii somewhat solved that problem by launching a Nintendo based system that would play Gamecube games AND offer you downloadable Super Nintendo games, all of which can be played with alternate Nintendo controllers. While this is a great money saving option, none of those games take advantage of the wireless controller feature that is the big draw of the Wiii system. It seems they debuted the system with a limited number of available good games, so now it's a waiting game for the new releases. I bookmarked their DDR game and waited eagerly for it to premiere, because I was a huge fan of the DDR system for Xbox, but then our Xbox broke, and I had to decide whether to replace it with a refurbished unit, or just switch to the Wii game and buy new pads.
I was really expecting the Wii DDR system to have wireless controller pads, but they are not wireless, however, they thankfully have super long connecting cables - much longer than the Xbox DDR controller pads. This is great because the Wii unit is so small and light that I was concerned about stepping on the cord and snatching it off the stand, something that we came dangerously close to doing with the Xbox, but with these long cords, that's no longer an issue.
The game itself is available as a bundle with one controller pad - and you are not able to view the pad before your purchase because they're both packaged together - so I'll tell you now that that pad is one of the deluxe ones, its not the cheapie bottom grade generic pads that you can buy separately. I was really leery of this because I had the cheap pads with my Xbox system, and while they worked, they slipped all over the floor! And the sales clerk at Gamestop couldn't help me with my decision because the Wii ddr game was new and she had not even seen it herself. In fact, she couldn't even tell me where or how to get extra controllers as the game only came with one. I told her, I can't go home with one pad! There will be a fight! So I went home and did some searching until I found where other people mentioned using the old Gamecube controllers (from Mario DDR) with the Wii system, and they said they worked fine. I returned to the store and bought the game with one controller, then bought two universal controllers that were Gamecube compatible. However, as I said, the pad that came with the DDR game is deluxe so it is really nice, it sticks to the floor, has a nice cushion to it and overall great feel under the feet, and the two universals I bought are cheap and crappy, so now there's always a fight over who's going to use the "good" pad! Since I'm kind of stuck with these, I'm thinking of putting them on eBay, along with the whole Xbox system.
Anyway, on to the game. If I had to choose between this one and the Xbox version - I prefer the old one. For several reasons:
The control panels of the Wii game is set up with way too many layers, far too many clicks necessary to get to what you want. You know when you put the game on, you want to get started quickly, not stand there and go through three minutes of set up EACH TIME. It doesn't appear to save your settings from session to session, so each time you start to play, you have to go through the same setup. Because its for the Wii, it defaults to using Hand Signals which you would use with the wireless controllers. Nice feature, but I'm no J. Lo so I'm doing fine just keeping my feet on the beat, I'd fall over if I tried to bring my hands into the game, so I turn this feature off each time. The problem is, you have to click through several screens to turn it off for EACH player. There's Options, Hand Signals, then Player 1 (or 2,3,4), then the On/Off screen, and then, believe it or, Confirm!!! And there's NO option to just globally make these changes for all of the players, and there's usually myself and two of the kids playing, so we have to do this for each player. There's also two other special features that are active by default, one of them is Freeze Arrow, where the arrows will intermittently freeze on the screen and throw you off your steps if you're not prepared, and then Gimmicks where it suddenly shoots crazy things at you during play and you have to react using the hand controllers. We turn both of these off, they're just annoying and may be more appealing to the younger crowd. And again, there's no Global "Off" so you have to run through these controls for each player before you can start.
The features I miss from Xbox are the ability to turn the background dancers either completely off, or adjust the brightness and contrast of the background graphics so they aren't so visible. There's no such option here. Maybe I'm just too old but all of that colorful movement behind the colorful arrows is just too much for me! I can't concentrate on MY steps because sometimes the arrows blend into the scene behind them. Another thing I don't care for is that the dancers are not doing the same steps as we are - they are virtually jamming all their own, doing real dancing, not DDR steps. I liked seeing them do exactly what I'm supposed to do because it helps especially on the difficult combos when you can see how they do it and then duplicate it.
Beyond that, on more than a few songs, if you have your settings on Beginner, you get literally no steps. This has to be a flaw with the game, because really, you get like 10 steps for the whole song and all of the steps are for your right foot. I did it while talking on the phone. Later on, we encountered this same thing with an entirely different song in Beginner mode, little to no steps.
I don't expect it to be exactly like the Xbox, considering they're two different companies - it may be more like the Mario DDR game which I've never played, but they sure should have studied the other versions on the market and incorporated the best of them into theirs.
Overall, its still a lot of fun if you're into DDR at all. I'm not crazy about the music though. Like all DDR soundtracks, it's primarily covers of popular American music done by unknown artists, but the dance mix isn't particularly "hot" as the title suggests. The Xbox system had a lot of uptempo techno and party music with a nice blend of Japanese artists - that's where I got that Daiken Ki song that I included in my favorite workout songs. If you've ever been in a Japanese night club or listened to Japanese dance mixes on a cable channel, you know the stuff will get you moving and sweating. It's a tight mix of techno and disco with infectious lyrics, even if you don't know what they're saying, you find yourself repeating it. I just found that to be a lot more fun to move to than slightly tepid covers of Ciara and Usher!
What do I like about the Wii DDR? Well, I did praise the long cables. The option to choose dancers and their outfits, well, I could take that or leave it but my kids spend a great deal of time customizing them like they're really going someplace. What would be really cool is if they could somehow integrate your Miis into the DDR game and let you dance with them.... Sony, work on that! Other than that, I'm awfully glad to at least have it available, because I used to play DDR practically daily until the Xbox broke, and I realize that the Wii is still pretty new and they're building their games library, so I hope they improve on the features with later releases.
If you've never played DDR before, the home versions are a terrific way to workout - they're fun and addictive and you WILL sweat within minutes. It's no wonder I read stories of people losing as much as 70 pounds using these things, but those are generally teenagers playing it for hours a day. At least one good hour a day will get your heart pumping and be equivalent to a good cardio session. The big DDR machines in arcade centers are the best, but if you want to spare yourself the embarassment of being outdanced by a 12 year old, get the home version, available for most video game system consoles for under $100.