I bought DDR Hottest Party 2 a week ago because I really liked its predecessor and was looking forward to the new songs. I didn’t have a chance to play it until today because I got sick that evening, but I did have plenty of time to read through the manual between bouts of violent puking, so I was looking forward to it.
After playing the game for one day, I’d rate it as “ok”. There are some improvements over Hottest Party, but so far my overall impression is that it’s slightly worse. The nice changes I noticed include new songs (obviously!), more detailed stages (with fancy lighting), shorter dead times after finishing a song, it saves your settings, and new moves for the characters. It also has a few music video backgrounds (replacing the normal animated dancers). Things I don’t like so much are the audience sounds and the dance mat.
Having it save settings is fantastic. I play with the hand markers off, and with Hottest Party I had to change that option every time I played. Hottest Party 2 remembers my choice.
The idea of an audience cheering is good, and it could have been done well. The problem is that as far as I can tell there is only one recording they use every time. During the actual gameplay it’s ok because you’re busy actually dancing, but after you finish a song, you get to hear the same cheer repeated a few times (when you finish, on the screen indicating that you’ve unlocked a new character, on the screen indicating that you’ve unlocked a new stage, etc). It would get annoying when watching a friend play too. I recorded one song as an example:
Just the cheer sections
The whole song (~2 minutes)
I haven’t found a way to disable the cheering. Maybe I find it more annoying than most people do, but it really bugs me!
I had a lot of trouble with the new dance mat. I bought the version that came with a new mat because my old one does occasionally miss steps (it’s rare, but when you’re going for a full combo it matters) and it’ll be nice to have an extra around for multiplayer. The new mat is missing a ridiculous number of steps – it seems like it won’t record a step if I’ve been standing on the arrow for a few seconds before trying to quickly step on it (I have to keep my weight off the arrow for a good chunk of a second). After about 15 minutes I got tired of it and switched back to my old mat. I’m not sure if the foam in the new one is slow to expand, or if it hasn’t been out of the box (i.e. unfolded) for long enough, but no matter what the problem is, this would make for an unpleasant Christmas morning for a child. Hopefully after I leave it sitting flat and play on it a few more times it’ll start working better.
Some of the covers are pretty unfaithful to the originals, so there’s no guarantee that you’ll actually enjoy playing songs you like (e.g. Don’t You Forget About Me). Some are pretty good and retain the feel of the original (e.g. Obsession).
There were a couple other changes I noticed. The navigation in circuit mode is strange. You spin some sort of cylinder thing, and the different stages cycle around it. After you clear one level, you move up to the next level. I don’t understand if each of these stages has a single challenge or a sequence… it’s just odd. It doesn’t affect gameplay at all. The other thing I noticed: I had a slightly hard time seeing some of the gimmicks during gameplay. I may just not be used to picking them out yet, but it’s frustrating to miss a foot missile because you just didn’t notice it.