The Mushroom Kingdom is in danger again. This time Waluigi has taken the mysterious musical keys of... What? You're falling asleep too? Okay, so perhaps DDR: Mario Mix doesn't need a really great story line, but you'll have to suffer through it anyway. Mario Mix is what happens when the greatest dancing franchise of all time combines with one of the most well known gaming icons of all time. In this game, using the power of dancing, the Mario Brothers restore peace to the Mushroom Kingdom by dancing their way through a variety of levels. By playing the story mode, you unlock new songs and difficulty levels.

Like all DDR games, arrows creep from the bottom of the screen to the top. In order to achieve the maximum amount of points, the arrows should be pressed exactly when it overlaps the stationary set of arrows at the top. If the arrow is pressed too soon or too late, then players will receive less points. There is also a meter at the top. If a player misses an arrow, this meter is depleted. If it goes down to zero, the game is over (or in the case of story mode, one life is lost). This isn't as difficult as it seems since the arrows will flow to the beat of the song.

The music in DDR: Mario Mix makes this game worth buying... that is, if you like Mario Music. With over 25 songs, players will feel nostalgic listening to remixes of tunes from Super Mario Bros., Dr. Mario., Mario Kart, and more. The music is hyped up with new beats to fit that electronic sound we have all grow to love in Dance Dance Revolution.

DDR Veterans will notice that Mario Mix is easier than other installments of Dance Dance Revolution. During each song there is always the feeling that something is missing. Besides the fact that the game seems to be a lot more lenient on what counts as a "Perfect", that feeling persists. Eventually, it's noticed that there are no hold steps (the green arrows). This dramatically reduces the challenge, but makes Mario Mix a perfect place to master those 1/8th beats.

There seems to be more changes to the DDR formula other than the missing hold steps. In a mode referred to as "Mush Mode" (which is often encountered in story mode), different creatures from the Mushroom Kingdom will appear. These characters require the player to do different things in the songs other than dancing to the arrows. Koopa Troopas, for example, need to be stomped on twice before being eliminated from the screen. Although this makes the game feel more like a videogame and less like a workout routine, the characters are difficult to see.

Players will also noticed a much changed workout mode. No longer does it keep track of calories burnt by date. It just keeps a running total of how many calories were burnt since starting the game. In addition to that, there are no more weight graphs. It does ask you for your weight, however, but only to calculate the amount of calories burnt. On the plus side, the player is no longer restricted to using the workout data linked to a particular controller. Instead, they can create multiple workout users.

Not all of the changes from traditional DDR are negative. One of the pleasant diversions in Mario Mix is the addition of the Mini Game mode. This is similar to the Party mode found in DDR Extreme. In the mini game mode, players can recreate the pole jump from Super Mario Bros., stomp on goombas poking out of pipes, run away from a giant snowball and more. Many of the minigames, however, seem to be similar to one another. If the minigame involves running, it can be assumed that you will be alternating between the left and right arrows on the action pad as fast as your poor heart can take. This can be expected since there is only so much one can do with an action pad.

Consumers will rejoice that like most Nintendo games that uses a unique controller (Mario Party 6, Final Fantasy: Chrystal Chronicals, DK: Jungle Beat, etc...), DDR Mario Mix includes the action pad with the game. The action pad feels different than the Playstation counterpart. There seems to be some texture on the upside of the mat to help people from slipping. This may present a problem for DDR veterans. With the textured surface, the mat seems to "stick" to the player's feet when sliding from one button to another. This gives the illusion that the mat is much slicker than previous mats. Overall, DDR Mario Mix is a great value. If you like to visit the Mushroom Kingdom, look silly playing a videogame and wish to get in shape, rush out to your local game shop and pick up a copy of Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix.

Preview By Vaughn

New screens added! Nintendo characters have been turning up in some strange places lately - Link (Legend of Zelda) in Soul Calibur 2, Little Mac in Fight Night Round 2 (Super Punch Out), Mario, Luigi and Peach in NBA Street V3 and now Mario and the gang are set to dance the night away in a special version of Konami's Dance Dance Revolution.

As you might guess you're only going to find this game on the GameCube and as of this writing, you'll have to import it this summer if you want to play it as there is no official word on a North American version. Chances are though we'll see this game on these shores before Christmas 2005. Even if we don't, it's a breeze to import as long as you have Datel's Freeloader (comes free with their Action Replay cheat device) and allows you to play UK and Japanese games on your North American system.

If you want to play the game right, Nintendo and Konami will provide you with a GameCube compatible dance mat which we expect will be packaged with the final product. We expect there will be more than enough Super Mario tunes to keep even the wackiest Nintendophile happy and we know that all of the action will take place within the Mushroom Kingdom. We can't tell you exactly which characters will be appearing but we expect that a certain Solid Snake might show up for some boogie fevering....but don't hold your breath. That's simply speculation on my part.

What we don't know about this game could fill a book, but as they say "A picture is worth a thousand words?" but as I often say even more...."How much would a picture of a thousand words be worth?" You do the math.

Please note: We sincerely hope our cheap attempt at making a boxshot doesn't actually reflect the final product. Although that would be awfully funny.....

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System: GC
Dev: Konami
Pub: Nintendo
Release: Nov 2005
Players: 1 - 2
Review By Jason