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Pump Haven :: Turkeyslam's NX2 review
9:37PM CST :: 2/12/08

 

Pump It Up NX2: Next Xenesis

review by Turkeyslam

 

After a series of ridiculous delays (giving the Pump community the ultimate case of blue balls), NX2 has finally been officially released worldwide. In celebration of its release, I've decided to write a review with my personal opinions about this game. As always, expect a lot of words because that's how I do it.

The first NX2 kit to arrive in America arrived a couple weeks ago at Pawprint (of PH)'s house in Florida. We'd already seen a good bit of what NX2 to offer thanks to videos on Youtube from Korea and Mexico but thanks to promises of WorldMAX, we knew there would be a lot more to uncover, and boy were right about that one.

To start off, I have to mention one thing. You better hope your arcade has good techs because installing NX2 was not by any means a walk in the park. The traditional parts of installing the game tended to be the same deal. However, the USB installation process was very complicated and unusual. It involved drilling and soldering and connecting things that the manual was very unclear about. We weren't able to do it after a lot of trial and error. Because of these hassles with installing the USB system, we first started playing what was already available, skipping the USB functions. (we later got it to work by inserting the USB stick in the back)

We started in Arcade Station. I personally had nothing "new" to see as I've watched charts of all the new songs on Youtube. However, my general consensus is that, as usual, Arcade Station is very fun and has a lot to offer. I will admit that I got more enjoyment out of NX1's new lineup when it came out, however what made NX2 charts very replayable for me was the fact that they focused less on insanely difficult charts (even Faster Z and Pumptris aren't THAT bad... come on) and more on returning to being nothing other than a "fun" game. As I'll cover later in this review, NX2 has DEFINITELY taken a huge step back from the tone of escalating difficulty that it's had since Prex 3 and Exceed, sticking mainly with the freestyle element and with simpler fun charts.

I found the most enjoyment, as usual, in the songs in the game that people tend to neglect. For example, Very Old Couples. While unfortunately not being the certain version of the song that I loved and thought it would be, it's weirdness sets it apart and I think it's very fun. Other songs that I fell in love with included Money, Beat the Ghost, Beat # No. 4, A Maelstrom, No Despair, Astal Song, Monkey Fingers 2 (sorry...) and of course the Taiji songs. As far as Taiji is concerned, I find the man a legend and I've known his entire back catalogue for years, but the three songs chosen for this game were never on the top of my list. However, I must give them credit for taking a risk in choosing very unexpected songs (It's My Business was never released as a single, was never that popular a Taiji song, nothing, but it's already become a fan favorite on NX2) instead of the more mainstream songs they could've chosen. Come Back Home, the most popular Taiji single chosen for this game, was chosen as the one song in the game that wouldn't get Crazy and Nightmare, continuing an inexplicable trend that's been in the game since Zero. However, it gets salvaged by some very fun and more difficult charts in WorldMAX. Anyway, NX2 was definitely unlike NX1 in its musical selections. The factor that was most noticeable in their lineup this time was the focus on rock and heavier music. Rock songs have existed in Pump before but not this many at once - NX2 has A Maelstrom, Astral Song, No Despair, It's My Business, Feel the Soul, and You Fall in Me as well as heavier guitar-based BanYa songs like Guitar Man and Beat the Ghost. The music quality was good overall and in my opinion didn't feature any disappointments - the one non-Pro song I didn't like, Compunction, appears to have become a fan favorite. As for the Pro songs, there's no use going into my opinion about them, but I will say that Nexcade's stepmaking qualities did shine in their rendition of those charts.

At first, playing this line-up of new songs brought forth the same giddy excitement that I've always had when playing brand new songs for the first time, however (here comes my first of only two negative points), it definitely began to subside quicker than before. Maybe it had to do with having the game for free for a nonstop-Pump four day weekend... I don't know. It did spoil me. However, I can see people losing interest more quickly than before, even though the quality is most certainly there. I think that focusing on the Arcade Station in this game is a thing of the past.

If this were where the game ended, I'd have to end this review on a sour note. However, because of one little selection in NX2's menu, this game goes from being close to a disappointment (only in comparison to NX, however) to becoming not only the greatest Pump mix of all time, but possibly the greatest arcade music game of all time.

I know what I just said is a bold statement, but when you dig deep in WorldMAX, you'll truly understand it. As for WorldMAX itself, in a very simplified description, WorldMAX is essentially designed like a music game in a toned-down RPG video game form. It consists of missions like in Zero and NX, except with a massively greater number of them, 333 to be exact. You now have much greater freedom to choose what you want to play and when, creating a much more non-linear experience.

What makes WorldMAX special is the gigantic amount of creativity present in its missions. For example, one mission has two players playing Turkey March with alternate skins. By following your skin and ignoring the other, the two players constantly spin around each other (without running into each other) in a way that you just have to see. An instrumental-only "remix" of Very Old Couples plays as a game of memory, flashing step patterns which must then be repeated using your recollection of what you've just seen. A final example - one of the most "holy shit"-inducing moments of the game, has Pumptris Quattro in a visual representation of a virtual game of Tetris, where you must hit flashing blocks as the lines disappear. This list goes on and on. I find it all to be nothing short of brilliant.

Unlike Mission Station from Zero and World Tour from NX, the focus is more on the fun factor and with charts that make you think outside of the box rather than charts that are hard for the sake of being hard and charts that drain your stamina (although there ARE a handful of these - the speeders haven't been ignored). The game throws curveballs at you all over the place (which I won't spoil in this review, but trust me - some of them, especially the later ones, will blow your mind). However, at the same time, there's a huge amount of charts at lower levels, with easy mission requirements such as simply passing the song, to entertain those who just want to have a new collection of charts to play. Lower level players lacking interest in overly difficult charts have been catered to in a big way.

In this regard, WorldMAX can be played simply as a glorified "second Special Station". If you've opened up the missions, you're free to play any three songs in any order you want, playing the charts with identical grading and scoring as charts elsewhere in the game, while completely ignoring the mission requirements. If you fail a song, you still get your additional two songs no matter what. And with over 98% of the misions being original charts, there's a lot to enjoy in here. The most fantastic part of the song list found in here is that there are no less than three DOZEN exclusive songs, full versions, and alternate versions here that you can't find in Arcade Station. WorldMAX boasts 18 full versions of songs from Exceed 2, Zero, NX, and NX2, as well as a few brand new (and utterly ridiculous) remixes that you'll only find way near the end of WorldMAX.

My second and final complaint of the game is actually a pretty laughable one. It's something that I never thought I'd say about an arcade game. The sheer size of WorldMAX is so enormous that many people, despite the total ability to go in and play everything, may never actually see everything it has to offer. What am I really complaining about? Well... believe it or not, this is an arcade game that I think is actually overdeveloped! The whole group I was with when previewing this game agreed that there is so much content in WorldMAX that the game could probably be split in half and released as two subsequent sequels to NX instead of just one and still be a success for Andamiro. My fear is that perhaps that they've exhausted every good idea they thought up during the development cycle and didn't exercise any limit control on what they threw into the game. Whether or not any possible future sequels to this game will suffer in originality and replayability because of it all being used up in NX2... we'll just have to wait and see.

Anyway, back to the positives. With your own personal USB, you now have your own personal "gamesave" which makes your progress through the game a very personal thing rather than a communal one. With the ability to use your USB in any NX2 machine, your progress and unlocks are no longer confined to a particular machine, giving you much more freedom in when and where you continue your journey through the game. Boss battles (usually full versions of Pump songs, most of which have never been seen) are found in each world, just like you'd find in traditional RPGs. The game even gives you a little cutscene when you defeat the boss. For each mission you gain "mileage" which can be used for everything from modifying your missions (arrow speed, mods, and a "lottery" system) to purchasing new songs to play in Special Station. Your USB also doubles up as a collector of all your best scores (viewable on your computer via a program soon to be released by Andamiro) and will assist you in inputting your scores to its internet ranking, if that's your thing. It also tracks your "calory" [sic] and "oxigen" [sic] intake.

Yeah, there's typos galore. Funky English is still heavily present in this game. As a matter of fact, the title screens of the new songs are largely in Korean and a lot of the little references in the game require you to be slightly familiar with Korean music and culture to appreciate it. The developers seem to have been affected by Pro's significantly different approach to the series and have gone full force into making their game as deeply tied to their Korean roots as possible, and it shows. The end result, in my opinion, is a very unique and original game where no other game can really compare, INCLUDING past versions of Pump It Up itself. The difficulty level of the new content may have gone down, but the fun factor has shot up through the roof. The only drawback however is that you'll really need to use the USB system to enjoy the full NX2 experience (at $15, it's not the most expensive investment in the world or anything). You'll also need to give WorldMAX a chance because Arcade Station is no longer the focal point of the game. Not by a long shot.

So, in a nutshell, NX2 is a major success. With WorldMAX, the replay value of this addition to the series will ensure that a hell of a lot of money will be made compared to past games in the series. It appears that NX2 may be the last Pump It Up game for quite a long while, but this shouldn't be a problem at all as its replay value will carry it a very long way. The one thing that has made music games stale over the years has not exactly been with the quality or lack thereof in the game's soundtrack but rather with incentives to play the game again... and again... AND AGAIN. NX2 ups the ante in a big way. While this game's vibe and style won't be for everyone - this is still a niche type of game - there is a lot for old-school Pump fans to appreciate here and NX2 may become called the best Pump mix of all time.

I've included the entire NX2 song list for you all to enjoy. Also, if you want to check out a gigantic chunk of charts from NX2 firsthand, make sure to check out our Video Charts section. Have fun!

KEY:
A - game includes alternate song cut in WM
B - USB only
C - changed or new steps included
K - Korean version only
R - revival
T - Training Station only
U - unlockable
W - WorldMAX only

NEW MUSIC

1) Pia - A Maelstrom
2) Gil Gun - A.U Ready?
3) Crying Nut - Astral Song [A]
4) HeaDTriP - Beat # No. 4 [A]
5) BanYa Production - Beat the Ghost
6) BanYa Production - Caprice of Otada
7) Sonic Dimension - Chopstix
8) Taiji Boys - Come Back Home
9) May - Compunction
10) Oscillator X - Dance All Night
11) Elpis - Dance Vibrations
12) ZiGZaG - Energizer
13) Yahpp - Faster Z
14) Seo Taiji - Feel the Soul
15) Mina - Get My Phone Call
16) Sonic Dimension - Groovin' Motion
17) BanYa Production - Guitar Man
18) BanYa Production - Higgledy Piggledy
19) Taiji Boys - It's My Business
20) BanYa Production - Jam O Beat
21) BanYa Production - Money
22) BanYa Production - Monkey Fingers 2
23) Bae Chi Gi - Nice to Meet You
24) Hot Potato - No Despair [A/B]
25) Yahpp - Pumptris Quattro
26) Joanne - Shiny Day
27) Yahpp - Solitary 1.5 [B]
28) Wonder Girls - Tell Me [K]
29) Bada - V.I.P
30) 015B - Very Old Couples
31) No Brain - You Fall in Me

32) BanYa - Moonlight (new version) [W]
33) Spooky Banana/Yahpp - Mr. Fire Fighter & Beat of the War 2 [W]
34) Yahpp - Pumptris Quattro (8bit Version) [W]
35) 015B - Very Old Couples (Short Term Memory version) [W]
36) Yahpp - Yasangma [W]

37) Full Song - Pia - A Maelstrom [W]
38) Full Song - Gil Gun - A.U Ready? [W]
39) Full Song - Crying Nut - Astral Song
40) Full Song - HeaDTriP - Beat # No. 4 [W]
41) Full Song - Taiji Boys - Come Back Home [U]
42) Full Song - Som2 - Deja Vu [W]
43) Full Song - Drunken Tiger - Emergency [W]
44) Full Song - Seo Taiji - Feel the Soul [U]
45) Full Song - Epik High - Fly [U]
46) Full Song - N.Ex.T - For You [W]
47) Full Song - Jiny - Free! [W]
48) Full Song - BanYa Production - Guitar Man [U]
49) Full Song - WAX - I'll Give You All My Love [W]
50) Full Song - Taiji Boys - It's My Business [U]
51) Full Song - BanYa Production - Monkey Fingers [U]
52) Full Song - Spooky Banana - Mr. Fire Fighter [W]
53) Full Song - Hot Potato - No Despair [U]
54) Full Song - Wonder Girls - Tell Me [K]
55) Full Song - Lee Hyun Do - Typhoon [W]
56) Full Song - Bada - V.I.P
57) Full Song - 015B - Very Old Couples [U]
58) Full Song - No Brain - You Fall in Me [W]

59) Remix - BanYa-P Guitar Remix [U]
60) Remix - May Remix [W]
61) Remix - Money Fingers [U]
62) Remix - NX2 Diva Remix [U]
63) Remix - NX2 Hip-Hop Remix [U]
64) Remix - NX2 K-Pop Remix 1 [U]
65) Remix - NX2 K-Pop Remix 2 [U]
66) Remix - NX2 K-Pop Remix 3 [U]
67) Remix - Pro Pop Remix [W]
68) Remix - Red Song [W]

69) Another - Gil Gun - A.U. Ready? [U]
70) Another - BanYa Production - Caprice of Otada [U]
71) Another - BanYa - Come to Me [U]
72) Another - Elpis - Dance Vibrations [U]
73) Another - Yahpp - Faster Z [U]
74) Another - Yahpp - Fire Game [U]
75) Another - Jiny - Free
76) Another - BanYa Production - Guitar Man [U]
77) Another - May - Handsome Character That Pass [U]
78) Another - BanYa Production - Higgledy Piggledy [U]
79) Another - Taiji Boys - It's My Business [U]
80) Another - Yahpp - Pumptris Quattro [U]
81) Another - Apple Jam - Snow Dream
82) Another - Typhoon - So [U]
83) Another - BanYa - Solitary [U]
84) Another - BanYa - Turkey March [U]
85) Another - BanYa Production - Ugly Dee [U]
86) Another - No Brain - You Fall in Me [U]

RETURNING MUSIC

87) Novasonic - Another Truth
88) Yahpp - Arch of Darkness [C]
89) BanYa - Beat of the War
90) BanYa - Beat of the War 2
91) BanYa - Beat of the War 2 (D&G version) [R/W]
92) BanYa - Bee
93) BanYa - Beethoven Virus
94) BanYa - Blazing [T/W]
95) BanYa Production - Bullfighter's Song
96) DVS - Bust Back [W]
97) BanYa - Canon-D
98) Yahpp - Chimera
99) Louis - Chung Hwa Ban Jeom
100) Crying Nut - Circus Magic
101) Sechskies - Com'back
102) Deux - Come Back to Me
103) BanYa - Come to Me
104) BanYa - Csikos Post [T]
105) Som2 - Deja Vu
106) Crash - Dignity
107) LazyBone - Do it Yourself
108) BanYa Production - Do You Know That -Old School-
109) Tashannie - Don't Bother Me
110) BanYa - Dr. M
111) Eun Ji Won - Drunken in Melody
112) Drunken Tiger - Emergency
113) JTL - Enter the Dragon
114) Kaoma - Essa Maneira
115) BanYa - Extravaganza
116) BanYa - Final Audition
117) BanYa - Final Audition 2
118) BanYa - Final Audition 3 U.F [A]
119) BanYa - Final Audition Episode 1
120) Yahpp - Final Audition Episode 2-1
121) Yahpp - Final Audition Episode 2-2
122) Epik High - Fly
123) T.O - Footprints
124) N.Ex.T - For You
125) Fin.K.L - Forever Love
126) BanYa - Free Style [W]
127) Jiny - Free!
128) Clon - Funky Tonight
129) BanYa - Get Up! [R]
130) U;Nee - Go
131) Dynamic Duo - Go Back
132) Lexy - Greenhorn
133) May - Handsome Character That Pass
134) Novasonic - Hatred [W]
135) BanYa - Hi-Bi
136) Cho PD & B.E.G - Hold the Line
137) 1TYM - Hot
138) DJ Dookie - Hybs
139) Hyun Jin Young - Hyun Jin Young Go Jin Young Go
140) WAX - I'll Give You All My Love
141) BanYa - J Bong [R]
142) BanYa - Jump [R/W]
143) Debbie Scott - Kiss Me [T]
144) Los Ninos de Sara - La Cubanita
145) N.Ex.T - Lazenca, Save Us
146) Manresa - Le Code de Bonne Conduite
147) BanYa - Love is a Danger Zone
148) BanYa - Love is a Danger Zone 2 [C]
149) BanYa - Love is a Danger Zone 2 (D&G version) [R/W]
150) Kim Jong Kook - Lovely
151) BanYa - Mission Possible [R/W]
152) BanYa - Miss's Story [R]
153) U'Two - Mistake [C]
154) BanYa - Monkey Fingers
155) BanYa - Moonlight
156) Spooky Banana - Mr. Fire Fighter
157) BanYa - Mr. Larpus
158) Park Hyang Lim vs. Yahpp - My Brother is Street Singer
159) Cho PD - My Friend
160) BanYa - N
161) BanYa - Naissance
162) BanYa - Naissance 2
163) Jang Yoon Jung - Oh My!
164) DJ DOC - One Night
165) BanYa - Papa Gonzales [W]
166) BanYa - Phantom
167) BanYa - Point Break [C]
168) Victoria - Power of Dream
169) Som2 - Pray
170) BanYa - Pump Me Amadeus [W]
171) BanYa - Rolling Christmas [T]
172) Lee Hyun Do - Sajahu
173) Haley - Sam-I-Am
174) ROD - Shake it Up
175) BanYa - She Likes Pizza
176) Novasonic - Slam
177) Apple Jam - Snow Dream
178) Typhoon - So
179) General Grant - Soca Make Yuh Ram Ram
180) BanYa - Solitary
181) BanYa - Solitary 2
182) Duke - Starian
183) Perry - Storm
184) BanYa - Street Show Down [R]
185) Ururbu Project - Terminal Depository
186) Andrew Kim - Throw 'em Up
187) BanYa - Turkey March
188) Mina - Turn Around
189) Lee Hyun Do - Typhoon
190) Hyun Jin Young vs. Yahpp - U Inside My Dim Memory [C]
191) BanYa - Vook
192) Victoria - Watch Out
193) Deux - We Are
194) Gyfted - We Goin' Fly Remix
195) Crash - What Do You Really Want
196) Turtles - What's Going On
197) BanYa - Will o' the Wisp
198) BanYa - Winter
199) BanYa - Witch Doctor
200) Yahpp - Witch Doctor #1
201) BanYa - With My Lover [W]
202) Eugene - Wuthering Heights
203) BanYa - X-Treme

204) Full Song - Yahpp - Beat of the War 2
205) Full Song - Yahpp - Canon-D
206) Full Song - Crash - Dignity
207) Full Song - Yahpp - Fire
208) Full Song - Cho PD & B.E.G - Hold the Line
209) Full Song - Yahpp - Love is a Danger Zone 2
210) Full Song - Kim Jong Kook - Lovely
211) Full Song - Hyun Jin Young vs. Yahpp - U Inside My Dim Memory

212) Remix - 2nd Hidden Remix
213) Remix - BanYa Classic Remix
214) Remix - BanYa Hip-Hop Remix
215) Remix - BanYa-P Classic Mix
216) Remix - Bemera
217) Remix - Chicago Club Mix [W]
218) Remix - Deux Remix
219) Remix - Drunken Family Remix
220) Remix - FA Ep. 1 + Chicken Wing Remix [R]
221) Remix - Groove Party
222) Remix - K-Pop Dance
223) Remix - Lexy & 1TYM [R/W]
224) Remix - Novarash Remix
225) Remix - Novasonic Remix [R/W]
226) Remix - Pop House Mix
227) Remix - Treme-Vook of the War
228) Remix - Try to BPM - LIADZ
229) Remix - Turbo Remix
230) Remix - Wi-Ex-Doc-Va
231) Remix - Zero K-Hip-Hop Mix

232) Another - Novasonic - Another Truth
233) Another - BanYa - Bee [C]
234) Another - BanYa - Beethoven Virus [C]
235) Another - Yahpp - Chimera [C]
236) Another - Som2 - Deja Vu
237) Another - LazyBone - Do it Yourself
238) Another - BanYa - Dr. M
239) Another - BanYa - Extravaganza
240) Another - BanYa - Final Audition
241) Another - BanYa - Final Audition 2
242) Another - BanYa - Final Audition 3 U.F
243) Another - BanYa - Final Audition Episode 1 [C]
244) Another - Yahpp - Final Audition Episode 2-1
245) Another - Yahpp - Final Audition Episode 2-2 [C]
246) Another - N.Ex.T - For You
247) Another - BanYa Production - Gun Rock
248) Another - BanYa - Hi-Bi [C]
249) Another - BanYa - Love is a Danger Zone
250) Another - BanYa - Love is a Danger Zone 2
251) Another - BanYa - Mr. Larpus
252) Another - BanYa - Naissance 2
253) Another - BanYa - Phantom [C]
254) Another - BanYa - Vook [C]
255) Another - BanYa - Witch Doctor
256) Another - Yahpp - Witch Doctor #1