Dance Dance Revolution

Dance Dance Revolution, or DDR, is a video game driven by the player's feet. It was first introduced by Konami as a video arcade game in Japan in 1998, and many variations have been produced, some even for home use. It is classified as a Bemani game (Bemani is a Japanese-style shorthand term for Beatmania, the name of Konami's first musical game, which has come to refer to all of Konami's musical games).

In the arcade, the game appears as a tall cabinet with unusually large speakers and flashing lights. On the floor in front of this cabinet is a raised dance platform with square panels. The more common two-player machines provide each player with 9 squares in a 3x3 matrix to stand on: four colored arrows (up, down, left, and right), and 5 neutral metal squares. One-player "Solo" machines have only one 3x3 matrix, with two extra arrows in the upper left and upper right spots. There is a bar behind each player to grasp to assist in balance, but many consider it poor form to cling to the bar while dancing except when doing tricks.

Gameplay

Players select one of a variety of songs, which typically have a heavy beat. While the game is in play, there are four stationary arrows at the top of the screen. Other arrows scroll up from the bottom of the screen and pass over the stationary arrows. When scrolling arrows overlap the stationary ones, the player must step on the corresponding arrow square(s) on the platform (it is permitted to remain on the square or "panel"). A "jump" step will involve pressing two or (rarely) three arrows simultaneously. In this way, the game encourages the player to dance a pre-choreographed series of steps to the beat of the music. It sounds very mechanical, but once a player has learned to respond to the arrows, there is some freedom in style and balance which better players exploit, to the entertainment of other players and passersby.

At the end of each song (assuming the player has made it that far), players receive a final score and a letter grade from "A" to "E" based on how many correct steps they made and how well-timed those steps are. There is no deduction for incorrect steps. Exceptional performances with no missed steps may be graded with "AA" ("S" on older versions) or "AAA" ("SS" on older versions). A game may consist of one or more songs in a series, or multiple attempts at the same song. There are also challenging "courses", or specific groups of songs, which can be played.

Songs and levels

Music in DDR may be fast or slow, or may even change tempo. Each song has multiple dances associated with it, rated in difficulty from 1 to 10 "feet". 1-"foot" songs are the simplest to dance to, with very few arrows appearing. Difficulty increases up to the 10-foot dances which have daunting numbers of steps that are so numerous that the scrolling arrows overlap. Beginners are advised to start with "Light" mode, which contains mostly songs rated from 1 to 3 feet (some versions additionally have a "Beginner" mode where every song is rated 1 foot and have a dancer is the background demonstrating the moves).

Increasing levels bring more and more arrows, "hold" arrows which require the foot to remain on the appropriate square, and syncopation. Sometimes the scrolling arrows "freeze" in time with a silent gap in the music. Players may also introduce variations, such as obscuring the arrows (forcing the player to dance by memory) or changing the scrolling speed.

Regular players of DDR drive the continuing markets for game upgrades. There are dozens of DDR versions; each new "mix" includes both familiar music from past games and new songs. There are also Disney-specific and "Euromix" versions. Reluctance by Konami to release some versions in the USA has led to widespread gray-market imports of mixes intended only for the domestic (Japanese) market, and even bootleg copies. A Korean company, Andamiro, produces a competing dance game series called Pump It Up which has 5 floor buttons instead of 4, in the four corners and center of the pad.

Arcades, home consoles, and clones

There are over 1400 arcade style DDR machines in the USA. The game first caught the interest of players in Asian American communities in California, and even today more than 25% of DDR machines are in that state.

DDR can also be played at home using the Sega Dreamcast, Sony Playstation, Playstation 2 or XBox consoles. They use a novel input device that looks like the mat from the game Twister or the Power Pad from the Nintendo Entertainment System. More durable metal dance platforms resembling the arcade version are also available. Several manufacturers such as RedOctane sell mats similar to the plastic mats but containing a foam rubber insert.

There are several clones of DDR available for personal computers. These games use their own music and step files, and a variety of both are widely available. Clones include Dance With Intensity for Microsoft Windows; StepMania for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X; and the cross-platform pydance, which runs in a Python environment on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux among others.

The DDR phenomenon

Playing at home is an excellent way to practice, and it saves money in the long run compared to playing in the arcade, but a large part of DDR is the experience of dancing in public. DDR is a social game. Two players can dance together side-by-side in friendship, the better player offering encouragement to the lesser, or in competition. Crowds may gather while the dance is in progress and become involved. Skilled players enjoy showing off by looking away from the screen, dropping to the floor to press arrows with their hands, and other distractions.

DDR is also a phenomenon, around which subcultures of fans and enthusiasts have gathered. Tournaments are held worldwide, some to determine highest scores (called "perfect attack" competitions), and others for exhibitions of style (called "freestyle" competitions); a player who knows the steps can develop a routine for the rest of the body to follow while playing the game.

Playing DDR can be good aerobic exercise; some regular players have reported weight loss of 10-50 pounds.

Releases

Name Format Region Release Date Comments
Dance Dance Revolution 1st Mix Arcade Japan 1998 First in the series
Dance Dance Revolution 2nd Mix Arcade Japan 1998 Added a few more songs to the ones in 1st Mix
Dance Dance Revolution 3rd Mix Arcade Japan 1999 Introduced 9-foot songs and nonstop mode. First in the series to use an MP3 decoder to fit more songs on the game CD.
Dance Dance Revolution 4th Mix Arcade Japan 2000 Had song genre divisions, where a particular genre of songs was selected and only those songs were playable in that game
Dance Dance Revolution 5th Mix Arcade Japan 2001 Introduced 'long' songs (i.e. 3 minutes instead of the usual 1.5)
Dance Dance Revolution Max Arcade Japan 2001 Introduced 'freeze' steps and 10-foot songs (MAX300)
Dance Dance Revolution Max 2 Arcade Japan 2002 Up to 116 songs. Introduced Oni mode, and Challenge songs (remixes of original songs which can only be played in Oni, with different step patterns).
Dance Dance Revolution Extreme Arcade Japan 25th December 2002 Has 200+ songs, nonstop and oni mode.
Dance Dance Revolution USA Arcade USA 2001 Only 26 songs
Dancing Stage Euromix Arcade Europe to be submitted European version of DDR 3rd Mix
Dancing Stage Euromix 2 Arcade Europe August 2002 European version of DDR Max2, but without Oni mode
Dancing Stage Party Edition Playstation/PS2 Europe to be submitted European Console version of 5th Mix
Dancing Stage Megamix Playstation 2 Europe 30th May 2003 European Console version of DDR MAX2

DDR/Dance Games Websites

DDR fan sites offer Web forums in which players can chat about the game and discuss tournaments, scoreboards and media archives of past tournaments, and fan-created song and step files for clone games.

External links




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