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ups: great music, graphics, helpful tutorial, muti-player goodness
downs: possible controller awkwardness

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How to Be a Console DJ: Reviewing beatmania
game: beatmania
four star
posted by: Amanda Bateman
publisher: Konami
developer: Konami
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ESRB rating: E10+ (Everyone 10 and Older)
date posted: 10:23 AM Sun Apr 23rd, 2006
last revision: 10:23 AM Sun Apr 23rd, 2006

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Click to read.Do the fast-paced foot-stomping antics of Dance Dance Revolution leave you feeling intimidated? Or maybe they\'re way too easy for you, and you\'re looking for a new challenge? Or are you just a big rhythm-gaming fan? Are you saying you\'ve never really tried a \"music\" game? Whatever the case, you\'ll definitely want to jump in on beatmania, Konami\'s latest in the Bemani series.

The look of the screens may closely resemble DDR in that it promotes a high energy, dance club feel. But beatmania is quite different. This time, instead of jumping around from arrow to arrow like a nut, your hands and fingers do all of the work. Instead of pushing buttons, you\'re spinning a turntable and striking large black and white keys, making beatmania play like a DJ simulation. It might not be as fatiguing as a round of Dance Dance Revolution, but your fingers will definitely feel the burn, and you\'ll likely be able to last longer.

The object of beatmania is simple: as the bars fall down the columns on the screen, you must hit the corresponding keys or spin the turntable as they near the bar on the bottom of the screen. You want to try to do this as perfectly as possible. Why? Well, your performance affects how the music sounds. If you\'re offbeat or hit the wrong note, the song doesn\'t sound right, and the lyrics or the beats sound terrible. One moment you may be keeping the tempo with a repeating bass rhythm, and the next you might be striking the main chords of the melody or providing the sung lyrics. Of course there is a chance you might be doing both at the same time, depending on the difficulty of the song.

If you are able to keep the groove gauge above 80% by the end of the song, you\'ll pass and be able to move on. Fall any lower, and it\'s game over. To keep the groove gauge in the red, you\'ll want to get \'Good\', \'Great\', or \'Perfect\' most of the time. \'Poor\' and \'Bad\' break your combo (which can affect your performance grade and score) and cause the gauge to decrease.

beatmania has two modes: beatmania mode which uses the turntable and five keys, and beatmania IIDX which uses the turntable and all seven keys. IIDX has more songs to play, but is more difficult. There are also options for number of players, and even number of controllers (yes, there is a mode where you can use two controllers as a single player). To work your way to this advanced method of play, you can start with five keys, and move up. It won\'t be a big chore, though: all of the songs on this game are a lot of fun to listen to, and there\'s something for almost everyone. A wide range of music genres is covered, and there are a lot of recognizable songs from Dance Dance Revolution, and even your FM Radio. Artists like Moby, Timo Maas, and Lipps Inc. have lent their hits to the list, and there are also great remixes of songs by Britney Spears, Jamiroquai, and even Van Halen.

beatmania\'s options don\'t stop at the two modes. There are different parts to the game as well to keep you entertained from your first few pathetic attempts all the way to expert status. Practice Mode is where everyone new to the game should start, where you\'ll get three lessons in how to use the controller and play the game. Game Mode is the meat of beatmania, where you\'ll rise to the challenge of passing three songs, completing the simpler ones to unlock better ones down the line. When you find your fingers in knots, take the song in question over to Training Mode, where you can practice without the game booing at you, and even alter the options to help you learn the rhythms better. Expert Mode is a non-stop mode not unlike those in DDR where you\'ll play through a pre-selected playlist of songs and try to keep the bar from reaching zero at the end of the game. If you do well in Expert Mode, you\'ll get to pick a DJ name and you\'ll receive a password for Internet Ranking. You can take the password to Konami\'s website and enter it on the site, earning you fifteen seconds of fame for your skills.

beatmania has secrets and unlockable songs which aren\'t hard to open up. You just have to be diligent and give everything your best. The design and sound for this game is perfect and quite customizable. Loading times are barely noticeable, and the controller, while awkward at first, is a lot of fun to use. You\'ll get a feel for it once you\'ve played a few times. Personally, if you\'re going to get beatmania, get the special controller too. It\'s just not as fun on the regular analog controller.

The only reason I can think of anybody not enjoying this game would be if you have trouble keeping a steady rhythm, or if you just have some beef against music-based video games. beatmania is a game perfect for playing on your own or with friends. Lots of friends even. Having fun together is what multi-player gaming is all about, and beatmania provides the opportunity for that. This title definitely has the potential to become a smash hit like Dance Dance Revolution has.

Give your first person shooters a rest and stash away that grueling adventure game for a while. beatmania is a fine example of how gaming has grown to become much more than just beating up bad guys and rescuing damsels in distress.

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