Dance Dance Revolution UNIVERSE 3 is the third game in the Xbox 360 series of dance simulation games released by Konami and was released in the United States on Oct. 21, 2008. The UNIVERSE series is the only DDR franchise developed outside of Japan and is a continuation of the Xbox's ULTRAMIX series, which saw four home releases throughout its lifespan. While the title can be played with a standard controller, it is designed and intended to be played via a special floor mat, which is packaged with the game and has a suggested retail price of $69.99 as of Nov. 28, 2008. Unlike the Playstation 2 series of DDR titles, UNIVERSE does not follow any arcade machine formats and is created specifically for the Xbox 360 console.
UNIVERSE 3 does not change the core game play of DDR in any way. As always, players choose a song and difficulty level and the main game play has them stepping on the appropriate direction on the dance mat when a scrolling arrow (or simultaneous arrows) meet a stationary accuracy field. If a player steps on the arrow(s) within an accurate timing window, they are given an accuracy rating (from best to worst - Marvelous, Perfect, Great, Good, Almost, Boo) and awarded points (points per step are determined by the number of steps in a song - songs with many steps have a lower points per arrow value and at the scoring system's core, a marvelous is worth 1,000,000/# of total steps in a song; meaning a performance of 1,000,000 points is a perfect performance). A Marvelous, Perfect or Great rating increases the player's score, performance meter and current running combo. A Good rating does not award points or deduct from the performance meter, however, it breaks the player's current running combo. An Almost or Boo rating does not award points, breaks the current running combo and depletes the player's performance meter.
At certain intervals depending on the song, arrows with extended green/yellow streaks, most often referred to as "freeze arrows" or holds, will scroll in time to the music, prompting the player to hold that direction on the dance pad until the streak ends. If the player holds the direction for the duration of the streak graphic, the player is given an O.K. rating and awarded points, otherwise, while a missed hold doesn't break the current combo, a N.G. rating is given, no points are awarded and the performance meter gets deducted. If the performance meter empties, the player fails the song and is given an "E" rating.
After passing a song, the player is shown the tally of all possible step ratings and is given a song rating from the following range (from lowest to highest) - E, D, C, B, A, AA, AAA. While in UNIVERSE, the AAA had been delegated to a performance with only Marvelous or Perfect ratings, much like the method introduced in SUPERNOVA 2, in UNIVERSE 3, a AAA rating is awarded for a performance of 990,000 points or higher (esentially 99% accuracy).
UNIVERSE 3 offers all of the modes found in previous installments with minor differences and a few omissions. The basic game mode has been retooled to reflect more of an arcade experience (while in Event Mode) than previous entries. Players are able to perform three songs before their scores are tallied up with a congratulations screen and are taken straight back into the song selection. However, skilled players who can obtain AA ratings can trigger Bonus Stage and Extra Stage events and songs passed through these modes can be unlocked for play in any mode. With both hidden stages, it is possible for a player to play through a total of five songs before reaching the aforementioned congratulations screen. In both Bonus and Extra Stage, players are relegated to the battery life bar as seen in previous games' "Oni" ("demon") or "Challenge" game modes - players are only given four performance points and any Good, Almost, Boo or N.G. rating will deduct one point; throughout the song, the meter never recovers meaning four mistakes instantly ends the song. Also, during the hidden stages, players must play the randomly generated song and can only play it on the difficulty they played the song prior or any higher difficulties. In order to add further challenge, Bonus Stage boosts the scroll rate higher and Extra Stage will add modifiers such as Hidden (arrows disappear before reaching the stationary markers), Reverse (arrows scroll from top to bottom instead of vice versa) or Dark (the stationary markers are removed from view). To obtain some secrets songs in the base game mode, the player must reach the Bonus or Extra Stages on specific difficulties (songs such as 888 or Delta Max only appear after reaching a hidden stage on the Oni difficulty).
UNIVERSE 3 still features a quest mode, however, it has been significantly retooled, making it the first time it has strayed from the format introduced in the Xbox's ULTRAMIX 3. Instead of traveling across states or countries, players are able to freely move between positions in Dance City as they see fit, without having to pay in-game currency for the transportation. The outside of the city is split into three different rings - streets, clubs and executive clubs. Players first start out in the streets ring and each location on the ring features a single song, but three different challenges for each (easy, medium or hard). The challenges put forth a number of requirements similar to those found in challenge/mission modes from past DDR games (achieve x score, don't step on specific arrows, etc.). Currency is awarded for a successful performance with more money being dished out for harder challenges. Occassionally at random, an event will trigger and if players activate that specific space on the street, they will run into another character and will be able to battle them for bonus currency.
The club ring features versus battles against a number of characters, however, players will have to pay to gain access to the club. Each marker in the club ring features a hidden song and if players are able to beat the CPU character in a light dance battle, the song is unlocked for play in any game mode. The executive club ring is essentially the same as the club ring, however, the admission prices increase, the overall song difficulty is higher and the battles are done on standard difficulty. Again, the songs played in the executive club ring are hidden and by clearing the club, the song is made available for play in any game mode. Once every single club is cleared, the player is granted access to the Dance City tower, where they must climb four floors to defeat the mayor. Each floor has one character that battles the player in the four "boss" songs featured in UNIVERSE 3 (which are unlocked as the player is victorious) and by defeating the mayor at the top of the tower, the player "clears" the game.
Outside of the actual game play, players are also able to create a male or female avatar for display in the quest mode. The in-game currency earned can be spent on a wide range of styles and clothing, which can then be outfitted on the player's character.
Unique to UNIVERSE 3 is a new DJ Mode where players can take a song from the game and freestyle record scratchings and other effects along to the audio. There is no goal in the mode and is merely included as an extra.
All of the other game modes such as Party Mode and Xbox LIVE play are still included, however, the Power Courses (song courses which are continuously mixed in one, long level) have been omitted in UNIVERSE 3. Through Xbox LIVE, Konami has activated a feature which imports your UNIVERSE 3 collective data to Konami's official online community. Also, extra songs have been confirmed for release via downlaod, however, as of Nov. 28, 2008, none have yet to be released.
(Song Title - Artist - Single difficulties (Light/Standard/Heavy/Oni)
A Fifth of Beethoven - Walter Murphy and the Big Apple Band - 2/7/9
Alice - Moby - 2/4/6
All Over Again - Blu Mar Ten - 2/5/8
Bad Taste - The Divys - 3/5/7
The Bomb (These Sounds Fall Into My Mind) - The Bucketheads - 2/4/7
Canned Heat - Jamiroquai - 4/5/8/9
Conga - Miami Sound Machine - 4/6/8/10
Dancing Machine - Jackson 5 - 2/4/6
Gutterpunk - Noisia feat. Bex Riley - 3/5/8/9
If (Dave Aude Remix) - Colette - 4/6/7
Man With the Hex - Atomic Fireballs - 3/6/8
Over - Mark Hill Presents Kelly Marie - 2/4/7
parade - Witchery SKANK - 3/5/9
Return of the Machines (Radio Mix) - Oforia feat. Bwicked - 2/4/6
Watch Us Work It - Devo - 2/4/7
30 Lives (Up-Up-Down-Dance Mix) - The Motion Sick - 2/4/6
Caught in the Moment - Entona - 2/5/7
Dancin' My Way - DeeJayz Paradize feat. Thomas Howard - 2/4/7
freshmagicgroove - IKAAN.fresh! - 3/5/7/9
Less Than Three (Ricardo Autobahn Remix) - Becky - 4/6/8
Rave Until the Night is Over (Universe Edit) - DM Ashura feat. MC Jay & Weronica - 4/6/8/9
Till the Lonely's Gone - Z-licious - 2/6/7
Feel the Beat - Master Source - 4/7/8
Hey, What's Your Name - Big Idea - 4/6/7
Lethal Configuration - Rephaim - 2/6/9
NRG Surge - oo39.com - 2/5/8/9
Once Upon a Time (Jertz Mix) - Mitsu-O! Summer2008
Senses (Kaiju Remix) - JT.1UP - 3/4/6
Your Angel - DM Ashura feat. kors k - 3/5/7
Concertino in Blue - Hirofumi Sasaki - 4/8/10/10
Kind Lady - OKUYATOS - 4/6/7/9
Matsuri Japan - RE-VENGE - 4/5/9
/\ (Delta) MAX - DM Ashura - 3/8/10
Out of Decaf - Nekojira - 3/5/8/9
888 - DJ Technorch - 5/8/9/10
Angel - Master Source - 2/5/8
MOBO*MOGA - Orange Lounge - 3/6/7
Keep on Moving (Orbit1remix) - D'n'B Stars - 3/6/8
Tesla Coil - Rephaim - 3/6/9
Don't Don't Go Away (Ricardo Autobahn Remix) - Foxxie - 3/6/7
Doki Doki (Panik Mix) - SMiLE.dk - 4/7/8/9
murmur twins - yu_tokiwa.djw - 2/6/7/10
Less Is More - Lim's Sculpture - 2/5/8
Streamline - Kazuto - 4/6/8
Big City Lights - Big Idea - 2/5/8
Hold You in My Arms (Danceforze dream mix) NM feat. Asher - 2/4/6
Consuela - Captain.T - 4/6/8
Time to Move - Fcdeejay - 2/5/8
dirty digital - kors k - 4/6/8/9
Control (The Attic Remix) - 90 Groovers - 3/5/7
aftershock!! - DM Ashura - 4/6/9
Burn Out - Beatdrop - 2/4/7
Waiting for You - C-14 - 3/4/7
Akibarrific - Ko Kimura - 2/7/9/10
Come Back - Gein - 3/5/7/9
Dummy - RAM - 2/4/7
EtoSharu - oo39.com - 3/5/7/9
Inspiration - Togo Project feat. Mayumi - 4/7/8
Just Pretend - Big Idea - 3/6/7
Kinochi - NAOKI feat. Melody & Mezzo - 2/5/7
My Hero - In Geer - 2/4/6
Sakura Storm - Ryu* - 3/5/7/9
Siege Engine - Morgan's Corner - 4/5/8
100 Sec. Kitchen Battle!! - Orange Lounge - 2/5/8/9
777 - Eel - 4/6/8/9
Absolute - 4/6/7
Midnight Blaze (SysF Mix) - System S.F. - 3/5/9
Paranoia Rebirth - 190 - 6/7/9
L.A. Evolved - Naoki Underground -
Other Game Notes
UNIVERSE 3 really promotes independent acts, but it does feature its small share of crossover songs as well. Songs such as 777 and 100 Sec. Kitchen Battle originate from the extremely successful Japanese franchise Pop'N Music (which was completely butchered in the U.S. as Beat'N Groovy), Concerto in Blue can be found in GuitarFreaks & DrumMania while many others have appeared in DDR games before. However, while songs such as Murmur Twins and Kind Lady have been featured before, UNIVERSE 3 has added an extra oni step difficulty to the songs.
Freshmagicgroove is a DDR UNIVERSE 3 rap song about playing DDR.
Through the course of the game, a few "573" references are made - the sign on the banner of Out of Decaf and the final BPM of Delta Max. Konami often associates 573 with items as in Japanese 5 is "go", 7 is "nana" and the counter for 3 is "mittsu." If you break up the three phrases as "go-na-mi," it serves as a slant on the company's name.
The increasing number in the background movie of Delta Max is the realtime changing of the song's current BPM.
Oddly, the back of the packaging lists a lineup of popular songs, however, only one of those songs are even included in the game (Dancing Machine). Listed on the back of the game's box are "Sweet Dreams," "Shake Your Groove Thing," "It Takes Two," "Tainted Love" and "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger." This leads many to believe the songs will be added as downloadable content.
UNIVERSE 3 still holds a number of technical issues which have long bugged fans of the series. While they make use of the Xbox 360's power and high definition, many feel the animations used during game play interfere with being able to see some of the game's arrows in harder difficulties and the framerate of the arrow scrolling is still sluggish. Furthermore, while the choice of songs used in the game have been universally appluaded by those in the Bemani fan community, critics have mostly panned UNIVERSE 3 with mediocre scores due to its lack of advancement in gameplay.
30 Lives (Up-Up-Down-Dance Mix) by The Motion Sick has appeared in the US home versions of both DanceDanceRevolution X (Playstation 2) and UNIVERSE 3 as it was the winner of 2008's Konami song submission competition. For the past few years the competition has been held annually, awarding the winner with a small monetary prize as well as giving the artist exposure in mutliple versions of the console games. The song is mellow electronic ballad remenscent of those popular in the '80s and details how the singer would "love to spend another 30 lives with" someone he loves (Konami's famous up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, [select,] start code is notorious for giving players 30 lives in certain games and the song even chants the command string toward the middle of the level).
The background video used during the song "Less Than Three" is the same as created by Disko Warp, which has famously placed videos with similar art styles to songs such as "Oh Oh Oh Sexy Vampire" on the Internet. The art style has been used in a DDR mix before with the background video of "I Wanna Be Your Star (Speedy Mix)" by Melody & Mezzo in DDR UNIVERSE 2.
A few artists appear on UNIVERSE 3, which haven't been seen in quite some time such as Captain T. (known for performing "La Senorita" in 3rd Mix) and Smile .dk (most popular for its "Butterfly," harking all the way back to 2nd Mix).