GameCore is CBSNews.com's gaming column written by William Vitka and Chad Chamberlain. This column was written by Nintendo correspondent Lyndsey Hahn.
Music Keys, in case you weren't aware, contain the power of music. And in Dance Dance Revolution Mario Mix, four Music Keys have been stolen from the Truffle Towers. Thanks to Konami and Nintendo, you must now use your funky fresh moves to get those keys back and restore order to the Mushroom Kingdom.
Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix comes complete with the ever familiar Action Pad, a.k.a. the Power Pad that was made popular in 1988 by World Class Track Meet. The Action Pad is yet another attempt to move players off their couches and get them physically active. The game even includes a digital calorie counter.
Take off your shoes and become Mario or Luigi (with Toad, of course, as your sidekick) and dance your way through Story Mode using the Action Pad's up, down, left, and right arrows. Along the way you will face off against Waluigi in the Destruction Dance, use dancing magic to "repair" a hotel, duel Lakitu in a fishing frenzy to obtain a boogie booster for your boat, and even dance in the middle of a whirlpool to get a Music Key back from the tentacles of the giant squid Blooper.
Okay, so the storyline is pretty weak — for example, the screen says that you must use "the power of dance to pick up speed" on a rollercoaster to a mixed tune from Mario Kart Double Dash — but face it, you are really just here for the Dance Dance Revolution part so the story's limp twists are forgivable.
Just like arcade style DDR, when the arrow on the screen lines up with the step zone, you must step on the corresponding arrow on your Action Pad. You are shown immediately how synchronized your steps are: perfect, great, early/late, or miss. At the end of each battle, the screen totals the step coordination, your score, and your maximum combo. Consecutive perfects/greats increase your combo score. Your score is dependent on your ability to time your steps. You earn coins in Story Mode based on your performance. Coins let you buy various items in shops such as potions that you can use during battles if your dance meter slips below your opponents' meter.
Once you have cleared all of the dance battles and minigames in Story Mode, songs are available for play in Free Mode and the minigames are available in Mingame Mode. Though Minigame Mode is single player, Free Mode allows you and up to one friend (with either their own Action Pad or a Game Cube controller) to play the unlocked songs in easy, normal, hard or very hard difficulty levels. Then check out your results in the Records section or look up your calorie calculation in the Workout section.
There are over 25 songs that you can dance to in DDR: Mario Mix, many are remixes from other Mario Brothers games guaranteed to get stuck in your head for at least three days. This is a great title that will surely put a smile on your face ... Or at least give you a good laugh while your friends attempt to shake, or possibly just jiggle, their groove things.
Dance Dance Revolution Mario Mix is entertaining, to say the least. It is great for kids to get off the couch for a change, perfect for the closet DDR players that don't want to go to the arcade, and wonderful for the people who just can't get into a yoga routine.
The ESRB has given Dance Dance Revolution Mario Mix an "E" for "everyone" and is available now, packaged with the Action Pad, for your Nintendo GameCube.
By Lyndsey Hahn
Copyright 2005 CBS. All rights reserved.