Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party 3 / Nintendo Wii : 4 of 5

It's amazing how long I've been playing Dance Dance Revolution, first in the arcade, then on my Japanese PSOne and US PlayStation 2, and finally on my Nintendo Wii with the Hottest Party series. I wasn't very impressed with the first release, but Konami really improved the game with Hottest Party 2 (which I really enjoyed, although I completely forgot to write a review). Now I've been playing Hottest Party 3 daily since Santa brought the game for Christmas, and it's definitely my favorite Wii DDR yet! Konami kept the things I liked about Hottest Party 2, hid some of the things I didn't like (I could care less about using the Wiimote for hand motions), and generally made it easier and more fun to play classic DDR. The song selection is really good this time, with a nice set of 80s dance hits (including everything from Duran Duran to Depeche Mode) and lots of anime-style pop, plus some very cool long medleys from Hottest Party 1 and 2 (which you have to unlock). Speaking of unlocking things, Tournament Mode is the way it's done in this release, and thankfully it's a fun mode that didn't force me to play in ways I don't like (I only had to use gimmicks for one song). While most gamers are never impressed with DDR graphics, I think Hottest Party 3 has made some fantastic improvements with a new user interface that shows CD album art, plus some wonderful cut scenes of the cute dancers that show when you hit certain combos (or end your combo, which shows your character hang their head in shame). While the songs are playing, the animated dance moves are really geared toward the song (rather than just random dancing), so the characters play air guitar at appropriate times and camera angles switch on emphasized beats, for example. Jun is my favorite character (with many kimono colors to choose from), but since so many of the songs include the actual music video, I wish I could see her dance more often. There are lots of other modes I haven't tried, including a weird balance board hip-wiggling game, but I'm content with the dance pad (unfortunately, Konami makes you buy yet another dance pad with the game, though they will probably release a game-only version months later). I'm so glad DDR is still popular enough for Konami to create new releases, and I hope someday I'll be playing Hottest Party 10!