Games under Konami's ever popular Dance Dance brand tend to fall into the "review-proof" category. Even if it's identical to the last twelve DDR games, it works. Thus, die hard fans are going to buy it regardless of what we say, and casual fans will probably pick it up out of curiosity or to have the first 360 version. And no matter what we score it - either you're going to love Dance Dance Revolution Universe, or you hate fun.
After all, the simplistic and refined core gameplay, consisting of the rhythmic stomping of four arrow buttons, has endured superbly for about a decade now. But what really warrants purchase of Universe over previous generations of Ultramixes is the wealth of game modes. Party mode alone sports enough features to turn the heads and twist the ankles of even the most weathered bemani-boy.
Above and beyond simply incurring points, Speed mode has you throwing rhythm to the wind and furiously tapping, while Bomb mode has you playing an explosive game of Hot Potato, and the continuous mixes in Power mode will hold out as long as your electricity does. If you're up for some interesting co-op, you've got Sync mode as well as the new Relay mode, where you'll pass the floor baton amongst a tag-team of friends. And dear god - if you've four dance mats lying around why not give Quad mode a try?
Quest mode itself isn't going to win any awards on its own merit, but it's still an interesting way of unlocking new songs by earning money and traveling the globe. And it's a novel way for newbies to progress, not to mention rewarding for those of us who dance like a newborn Tyrannosaurus and don't care a lick for electronic music, yet still have the desire to cut a virtual rug. ("There are dozens of us. Dozens!") Thankfully, Workout is less mode, more a change in display, allowing you to see the calories you've burned while advancing through other game modes.
As for the pad itself, find your nearest Konami representative and hug them vigorously, since your $80 will land you the game as well as what may be the best damned soft pad ever produced. With its lengthy USB cord (around ten feet) and clingy plastic base, the control is incredibly stable and responsive, even on carpet.
Even if this is the only version available on the 360, classic gameplay and a bevy of options warrant purchase over previous DDR outings. If all the gameplay modes still don't pique your interest, go deeper into Dance Dance Revolution Universe by scrounging for Achievements or serve strangers on Live. Just watch out for anyone named Smidget.