This holiday season brings gamers a quadruple serving of Mario on the Gamecube, with Mario Superstar Baseball, Super Mario Strikers, Mario Party 7 and Dance Dance Revolution Mario Mix. Mario?s branching out from his traditional turtle-killing ways to his current soccer playing, baseball throwing, car driving and annual orgy throwing haven?t always been top-notch, but this is a nice installment in the franchise, though it may or may not hold more appeal than the majority of the DDR series.
For some inexplicable reason, there is an actual story to why Mario has to become the lord of the dance. For some unknown reason, Waluigi has stolen music and dance from the world, and Mario must?dance?to music?to get it back. No, this doesn?t make sense, but was anyone really expecting it to? Anyway, while the story is altogether dumb, it does take Mario across some familiar territories, which is just about the only good thing that can be said about it.
The gameplay is standard DDR-style. The game comes packed with a Gamecube DDR dance pad, and though the controller is also usable, it destroys pretty much the whole appeal of the game. On the pad are four arrows, as well as A, B, Z and Start buttons. Outside of a few mini games, there are four rows of arrows pointing up, down, left and right. They float towards the top of the screen and when they hit the top of the screen, the gamer jumps on the corresponding arrow on the dance pad. Depending on the actual skill level at which the game is set, it can get very fast-paced, and quite fun. There are also some fun mini games, like using the dance pad to kill Piranha Plants that pop up by jumping in the corresponding direction, and other Mario-themed dancing, but that?s about it. Versus mode is where it?s really at, though. Two players can go head-to-head on the dance pads, which is the true high point of any DDR. Songs for Versus Mode are unlocked from the Story Mode simply by beating the corresponding level in the Story Mode. The player must spend time unlocking songs, or things will get boring very quickly with a limited playlist in Versus Mode. Coming across another dance pad can be tough though, as in all likelihood another game will have to be purchased. If one is available, though, it?ll really add to the fun.
In a game all about dancing, the music is always key, and Mario Mix delivers on it. It offers catchy remakes of many different songs, including old Mario Bros. Classics (like the dungeon music from the original, or the sky levels in Super Mario Bros. 3), some of the newer Mario tunes (from games like Mario Party 3), as well as other old favorites like ?Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.? Each number sounds great, though, and at one point or another, will take over any poor gamer?s brain. Graphically, Mario Mix looks pretty much the same as Mario Sunshine, Mario Party 4-6, Mario Superstar Baseball, or pretty much any other Mario game on the Gamecube, meaning it?s palatable, but not particularly impressive. The dancing animations for the characters are the really important part though, and each level has some really nice-looking maneuvers being pulled off by the Mario cast.
Though a great game, Mario Mix still isn?t a must-buy for everyone. Because the PS2 and Xbox have a whole slew of DDR titles, the other consoles simply offer more songs, and more depth to the game. In addition, many people already have a whole DDR set, with numerous pads and games, and Mario Mix just doesn?t have enough in it to warrant the purchase of another whole DDR set. For newcomers to the series and Gamecube owners, though, Mario Mix provides an entertaining introduction to the world of Dance Dance Revolution.