Zero - The International 7th Dance Floor
Pump it Up Zero is the newest and latest entry to the PIU series, and now that I've been able to play it first hand, I'd like to talk a little bit about the
You start the game with yet another awesome looking entrance screen, followed by a main menu like in Exceed 2. The difference this time is that there are two
new options to select. Andamiro has listened to the complaints concerning the difficulty of Pump songs for beginners, and has answered with the default
option right as you hit the center button: an easy station. With an interface that I think couldn't be any simpler, you have a choice of 19 songs to begin with, ranging from levels 1-3. In this scale I would consider a 3 or 4 to be a level 1 on the arcade station's rating. These things
really ARE easy. Aside from the overly cutesy pink interface, the way it's set up should be very intuitive for new players of the game. I don't think
there will be any more problems concerning newbies getting frustrated by choosing a crappy difficult song then never playing again. Once you successfully
complete your set of songs and do well, the game invites you to try the arcade station for more difficult songs.
And on to the arcade station... what else can I say, it's beautiful. I'm sure by now you know of the BGA preview interface, and let me tell you: this is
enough to make the game REALLY stand out as one impressive looking game. The way it's set up, you use the bottom left and right arrows to choose your song,
the top left arrow to choose your difficulty (Normal, Hard, Crazy, Freestyle, Nightmare), and the top right arrow to choose your station (Banya, K-Pop, Pop,
and later on, Another). The song list in the arcade station has 20 new songs at first - 12 in the K-Pop channel, 6 in the Banya channel, and 2 in the Pop
channel. The new songs overall, in my opinion, are fantastic. Andamiro dives into new genres with the new songs and I think it really pays off. For example,
my personal favorite, Lazy Bone's Do It Yourself, is ska... definitely not something you see a lot of in dance games. The stepcharts for the songs overall
have a wide range of difficulties: the K-Pops almost all have simple Freestyle modes (and they fit because a large chunk of them are hip-hop songs), while
their Crazy stepcharts can get tricky. One in particular, Enter the Dragon, has VERY complex turns, and definitely puts in twisty patterns that I've never
seen before. Andamiro seems to be trying to everything with their new stepcharts to make them different: multiple BPMs, song stops, long hold chains to build
up the life bar, a large amount of Half Double-type charts for Nightmare modes, weird song stop/arrow speed up hybrids where the incoming steps shoot up out
of nowhere, and even stuff like, once again, Do It Yourself, where the Nightmare mode doesn't use either of the center steps once. If that doesn't sound fun
to you, don't worry. It is incredibly fun, and in fact it's my favorite stepchart of the game, tied with My Friend's Nightmare stepchart.
Let's do a paragraph break here... anyway, onto the Banya channel. First, we start with Banya's song Jump, with a level 9 Crazy, low BPM, and very simplistic
steps. Now that I've put that one aside, let me introduce you to the theme of the Banyas of Zero: freaking insanity. Love is a Danger Zone 2 is just
absurdity. 7 on Easy, 15 on Hard, 21 on Crazy, 18 on Freestyle, and 23 on Nightmare, it basically sets a record for the highest level song on every single
mode. While the accuracy of these levels is debatable, they are crazy, and will kick your ass if you're not incredibly good at the game. Next is Phantom...
this song doesn't even have an Normal mode (more on this issue later), and the Crazy, while starting easy, reaches absolute retardation in the second half.
Having twists that are essentially undoable unless you twist your body almost 270 degrees, not to mention twists and the halved-BPM silliness in the middle,
it's very deserving of its rating. Moonlight is the same... it also has a middle part where the steps slow to a crawl and the steps become almost unreadable.
It's definitely a new tactic AM is using to try to challenge players, and well... it's definitely challenging. The remaining songs - Papa Gonzales, Beat of
the War 2, and the unlockable Witch Doctor, also have very high level ratings. You can see the level ratings for these songs in the chart at the bottom of
The Pop channel yet again has an underwhelming new selection of songs, featuring the Exceed SE license I Love You Baby and the new Chinese song Up Up. Exceed had
Portuguese, Exceed 2 had French, and now Zero has Chinese... it's definitely clear that Andamiro is at least somewhat trying to make songs to cater to
individual markets, even if they have very few new songs. Personally, I don't care for the channel, so this doesn't bother me, but I know many people will be
annoyed by this.
While we're digging into the negatives of the game, I'll continue to get it all out of the way. Earlier I mentioned that Phantom doesn't have a Normal mode.
Well, it's not alone. Breaking the tradition that Andamiro's been following ever since the SE and Perfect Collection days, not all the new songs in Zero are
featured in every mode. Actually, there's quite a few missing stepcharts here. All Famy and Wuthering Heights do not have a Crazy or Nightmare stepchart
whatsoever, which means that most likely neither of these songs will get played very much. Their stepcharts on existing modes are VERY easy, and catered for
freestyling only. Some other losses may annoy, such as Do It Yourself, Moonlight, and Phantom not having a Normal, or Jump not having Double and Nightmare,
for example, but overall it's not as big a deal as it initially seems to be. One thing that baffles me though is the decision they made with Drunken In Melody
and Too Late. Exceed 2 introduced these songs with steps on all five modes, and in Zero, the Crazy and Nightmare stepcharts for both of these songs are
nowhere to be found. What the hell? One last gripe is that Andamiro removed a very large number of songs from Exceed 2 in this game, and while the removed
licenses are far from the end of the world (since most of them were very mediocre to begin with), it is definitely yet another annoyance. You can check for
missing songs in the song list thing as well.
Making up for the losses are a LOT of new stepcharts for previously existing songs. Just to name a few, there are new different steps for N Crazy,
Extravaganza Hard, Com'back Crazy, and all the modes of Rolling Christmas, while introduced are new Crazy stepcharts for Funky Tonight, Another Truth, With
My Lover, etc etc... and new Nightmares, too. I'll let you find them all in the song/level list. There's a lot in there. The new steps are all of very high
quality, I think, and feature holds, stops, speedups, periodic 32nd step usage, and all that other stuff that Andamiro's been adding to their other new
stepcharts. If you get sick of these new charts, there are even MORE: once Zero is installed, after a little while (we got it on our machine within
the second day of it being installed), a new channel gets unlocked: the Another Step channel. Inside here you'll find new (and often incredibly difficult)
alternate stepcharts for existing songs. I actually unlocked this channel myself on the last credit I played today, so all I had time to do was get the list
of initial songs that come unlocked with the station. We did nothing special to unlock these, so I assume these are either time unlocks, or they unlock after
a certain amount of credits or something of the sort. Either way, the initial songs unlocked in the channel (all on Crazy) are as follows: Final Audition 2,
My Friend, Solitary 2, Final Audition 3, Mexi Mexi, and Eres Para Mi. According to reports from Korea, other songs slowly unlock for the channel, adding up
to around 30 new charts.
It's definitely clear that Andamiro's goal in this game is to bring in as much replayability as possible, and they've done a damn nice job. Just by the
second day we've unlocked new content, and from what I hear, there is a LOT more to come. Adding on to their escalating list of options for replayability, I
introduce to you the second new station available in Zero: the Mission station. This thing is simply a masochist's wet dream. You thought DDR's Onis were
tough? Well, you have no idea. What Andamiro asks you to accomplish is beyond insane, almost in the territory of impossibility
(but of course, not completely there). The first two simple missions, as well as the random Crazy mission, lead you to have a false impression of the utter
difficulty of these challenges. Once you've accomplished them, good freaking luck, because nearly all the others are... God. They involve playing songs with
a plethora of crazy mods and speed changers, assignments to get an EXACT max combo and an EXACT amount of misses, mines to screw you up, and much, much more. As of
the time I write this, we actually don't know what the final missions involve, and the only way we'll know is when the missions before it are passed. You
have to play the first ones to unlock more, and then when those are cleared, you get more and so on. Most of these missions have you unlocking something upon
successful completion (for example, finishing mission 7 unlocks Banya's absurd Witch Doctor), and they include things from Another Step unlocks to new code
modifiers to new arrow skins. I'll honestly just leave you to discover these missions for yourself, and if you're impatient you can always resort to looking
in the forums.
The last station, the remix station, includes all 14 remixes from Exceed 2, as well as three new ones (Try to B.P.M - LIADZ, K-Hip Hop Vol. 1, and K-House
Vol. 1). The K-remixes are fairly simple and are very fun. The last one, well... it's essentially a full length LIADZ, and the steps are kind of ridiculous.
You can see for yourself in the video of it below. Zero introduces a new default BGA, different from Exceed 2's, and still has the same alternate BGAs for the
select few songs they decided to make a BGA for (Try to B.P.M remix's video is a full length equivalent of LIADZ2's). Aside from that, there's not much to say
about this channel. Oh wait, there is... LIADZ FULL IS ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING. And they're saying there are even worse steps of this damned thing in the
Another channel.... crazy Andamiroans and their LSD...
That's pretty much all I have to say about the game. Am I impressed? Oh hell yeah. This may be the best Pump ever, and I think Andamiro has succeeded in
innovating the genre and introducing new gameplay elements to make this game remain fresh for a very long time. I leave you now with the song list, complete
with all the new levels (bold text signifies it's either a new song or a new stepchart). This chart contains the initial song list of the game, and does not
include unlocks (with one exception - Witch Doctor, which I received level information for previously). Jang Yoon Jung's Oh My, as well as whatever else is hidden in there, we'll get information for later.
All the Another Step songs' levels I've seen so far are "??". And if that isn't enough to satisy you, well there's more! How about a complete collection of
videos from the game to go along with it? The videos numbered 1** were filmed today at London Trocadero, and are of very high quality. Due to their file sizes, I've unfortunately had to limit the download of these videos to PH Members only. The ones numbered 2**
were generously donated to us by SeoulMan (from the machine in Andamiro's Enter arcade in Korea), and the remaining 3** videos were taken by various Korean
players, including DJ HABANERO, Sera, WindForce, and others, and all credit for these videos go to them. The game ships to American arcades and other places
worldwide on Feb. 1st. The game is almost here, so get ready and prepare for the greatest Pump experience to date!