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Name: Dancing Stage Featuring True Kiss Destination
Type: SIM
Platform: PSX
Company: Konami
Release date: 1999
Reviewed by: Scream

Dancing Stage Featuring True Kiss Destination is the newest dance simulation game from Konami's music simulation division Bemani. For those not familiar with Konami's Bemani division, Bemani is a subdivision of Konami of Japan, specifically Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo (KCET). The subdivision, which specializes in music simulation games, was formed after the extremely successful response to Beatmania, a DJ simulation game. Since its formation, Bemani has released several new and popular simulation games for the arcade and console systems, such as Guitar Freaks, Pop 'n Music, and the highly popular series Dance Dance Revolution.

Dancing Stage Featuring True Kiss Destination was first released for the arcade scene and was then translated and released for the Sony PlayStation. This review will focus primarily on the PlayStation version. The game is very, very similar to Dance Dance Revolution, especially in gameplay. In a single player mode, the object of the game is to get the highest score possible, which is a grade of SS, in a series of songs; while, in a two-player mode, the object is to out-dance your opponent, which is similar to Konami's Dance! Dance! Dance! and Enix's Bust-A-Move (or Bust-A-Groove in the United States). However, unlike those two games, there are no dancers to control. The player is the actual dancer.

Before going over the gameplay, I'd like to mention that the game is much more fun and works better with a dancing mat rather than a controller. The dancing mat provides "realism" to the game. In a funny way, it helps to teach you how to dance. Anyway, the object of the game is to step on the appropriate arrows when the arrows from the bottom of the screen hit the step zone, which is obviously on the top of the screen. As you perform, the dance gauge increases, and, basically, whoever, has the highest gauge wins the round. However, if you make a lot of mistakes, the dance gauge decreases, and, once it reaches zero, the game is over. There isn't much to the gameplay, so it's easy to catch onto the game. However, it does get challenging when the songs get faster. The footprints located below each song in the song menu tell you the difficulty level. The more the footprints the harder the level.

The only big difference between Dance Dance Revolution and Dancing Stage is the music. The songs in Dance Dance Revolution are all Konami original songs, while the music in Dancing Stage are music from popular Japanese pop groups. In this case, the music come from True Kiss Destination, which is one of my favorite Japanese pop groups, Speed being my top favorite regardless of their heart-wrenching break-up. Most of the songs come from their latest CD entitled Gravity. Some of my personal favorites are Africa, Victim, and Precious Moments. By the way, don't bother looking for a Dancing Stage soundtrack because there isn't one available. If you like the songs, simply get the group's album. However, there are some songs that are not on their CD because they are Konami original songs. Well, there are actually two original songs, which are Celebrate Nite and Sexy Planet. The rest of the songs are on their album. The second Dancing Stage game will feature music from Dreams Come True. Also, Bemani has designed the second game so that the latest album from the group will serve as an append disc to Dancing Stage Featuring Dreams Come True, which will allow you to play four additional songs. Unfortunately, with the Gravity CD, it doesn't work the same way.

I would definitely recommend this game to anyone who is a fan of True Kiss Destination or enjoys listening to Japanese music. I would also recommend this game to those who love playing Dance Dance Revolution since the game is pretty much the same. I'm surprised Bemani didn't create Dancing Stage as an append disc for Dance Dance Revolution. Also, for those thinking of buying the game, please consider getting a dancing mat, otherwise, the game can get really, really boring.

For those interested in other Bemani titles for the PlayStation, here's a list: Beatmania 2nd Mix, Beatmania 3rd Mix Append, Beatmania 4th Mix Append, Beatmania Gottamix Append, Guitar Freaks, Dance Dance Revolution, Dance Dance Revolution 2nd Mix, Dance Dance Revolution 3rd Mix, Dance Dance Revolution Club Vol. 1 Append, Dance Dance Revolution Club Vol. 2 Append, Dancing Stage Featuring Dreams Come True, Pop 'n Music, Pop 'n Music 2, Goo Goo Soundy, and Drummania (for PlayStation 2). Also, you may notice that the gameplay for all the games are similar. It's basically hitting the correct button at the right time. Oh, by the way, with append discs, you need the original game in order to use the append. For example, in order to run Beatmania 3rd Mix Append, you need Beatmania 2nd Mix to run it.

One last thing... Konami of America is currently considering whether or not to release these titles in the United States. They're basing their decision on us, the gamers, so please show your support by send an e-mail to Konami of America expressing your support.
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