Pump It Up Exceed / PS2 : 4 of 5
I actually bought this game back in 2005 when I was trying out all the possible DDR alternatives available, but I didn't really give it a fair trial at first (I didn't even write a review!). But recently I decided to try out some old games again, and I've really been enjoying Pump It Up! If you don't already know, Pump It Up is Korea's answer to Japan's Dance Dance Revolution, so it's essentially the same kind of dance game with one important twist. Actually, it's literally a twist, since the arrows form an X-shape rather than a cross shape, and the center of the X is also a valid step, giving the game all kinds of wild combinations for jumps. I still play Pump It Up at the arcade every now and then, but I've seriously been giving it a workout at home for the past few days! Because of the special step layout, Pump It Up requires a unique non-DDR dance pad controller, which is just a cheap soft pad, but I'm still enjoying it and haven't had any trouble so far. I really like the music, which is grouped into the Pop Channel (which has semi-hits like Stereogram's Walkie Talkie Man and lots of Latin pop), the Kpop Channel (which is full of really cool Korean pop songs), and the Banya Channel (which has some crazy dance arrangements of classical music with awesome names like Beethoven Virus!). There are no dancer characters to choose from, but each song has a complete video, with styles ranging from live-action to CG to great anime-style animation (often with hilarious risque scenes!). My biggest complaint is the lack of a true Endless Mode, although the Survival Mode lets you keep playing without waiting for a final score. My DDR instincts have made it pretty easy to switch to this new dancing style (although 8th notes are tricky since they don't pulsate like in DDR), so I'm going to stick with it until I unlock everything or the dance pad wears out - whichever comes first!