Dance Dance Revolution

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Current Dance Dance Revolution logo

Dance Dance Revolution, stylized DanceDanceRevolution, abbreviated DDR, and previously known as Dancing Stage in PAL territories until the announcement of Dance Dance Revolution X, is a long-standing music video game series produced by Konami. Introduced in Japan in 1998 as part of the Bemani series, and released in North America and Europe in 1999, Dance Dance Revolution is the pioneering series of the rhythm and dance genre in video games. Players stand on a "dance platform" or stage and hit colored arrows laid out in a cross with their feet to musical and visual cues. Players are judged by how well they time their dance to the patterns presented to them and are allowed to choose more music to play to if they receive a passing score.

Dance Dance Revolution has been given much critical acclaim for its originality and stamina in the video game market. There have been dozens of arcade-based releases across several countries and hundreds of home video game console releases. The series has promoted a unique music library of original songs produced by Konami's in-house artists and an eclectic set of licensed music from many different genres. DDR is viewed as an exercise tool and is in use as such in many gyms and schools. The series has also inspired many clones of its gameplay and a global fan base of millions that have created simulators of the game to which they contribute original music and "simfiles", collections of dance patterns to a specific song. DDR celebrated its 10th anniversary on November 21, 2008.


[edit] Gameplay

The dance stage, divided into 9 sections, 4 of them in the cardinal directions contain pressure sensors for the detection of steps.

The core gameplay involves the player moving his or her feet to a set pattern, stepping in time to the general rhythm or beat of a song. Arrows are divided by 1/4 notes, 1/8 notes, and so on (with differing color schemes for each), up to about 1/32 notes. During normal gameplay, arrows scroll upwards from the bottom of the screen and pass over stationary, transparent arrows near the top (referred to as the "guide arrows" or "receptors", officially known as the Step Zone). When the scrolling arrows overlap the stationary ones, the player must step on the corresponding arrows on the dance platform, and the player is given a judgement for their accuracy (Marvelous, Perfect, Great, Good, Boo/Almost, Miss/Boo). Longer green and yellow arrows referred to as "freeze arrows" must be held down for their entire length, either producing a "O.K." if successful, or a "N.G." (no good) if not. Dance Dance Revolution X contains songs with Shock Arrows, walls of arrows with lightning effects which must be avoided, which are scored in the same way as Freezes (O.K./N.G.). If they are stepped on, a N.G. is awarded, the lifebar decreases, and the steps become hidden for a short period of time.

Successfully hitting the arrows in time with the music fills the "Dance Gauge", or life bar, while failure to do so drains it. (If The Judgement on arrows scores less than Great, Combo will break immediately or if the dance gauge drains.) If the Dance Gauge is fully depleted during gameplay, the player fails the song, usually resulting in a game over. Otherwise, the player is taken to the Results Screen, which rates the player's performance with a letter grade and a numerical score, among other statistics. The player may then be given a chance to play again, depending on the settings of the particular machine (the limit is usually 3-5 songs per game). In most of the home versions, there is usually an option for event mode, where an unlimited number of songs can be played. On most DDR games, there is an option to use two pads at once, making it harder to play but increasing the number of moves to incorporate into songs.

[edit] Difficulty

Depending on the version of the game, dance steps are broken into varying levels of difficulty. The main difficulty levels are "Basic/Light/Standard", "Another/Trick/Standard/Difficult" and "Maniac/Heavy/Expert". Some versions also include "Hard", "Super Maniac", "Beginner" and "Challenge", which typically fall on the lower and higher ends of the difficulty scale, respectively. Once difficulty is switched to Heavy/Challenge, the steps begin to really resemble real dancing (albeit on 4-8 arrows). Songs are also given a "foot rating" (which is represented by a row of colored footprints (Cyan/Blue for Beginner, Yellow for Basic/Light, Fuschia for Difficult/Standard/Another/Trick and Green for Expert/Maniac/Heavy, and Purple For Challenge.), ranging from one to ten feet to indicate the overall difficulty of the step sequence. Typically, songs with 10 foot ratings are very fast, with one exception being bag on Dance Dance Revolution Extreme, which is rated a 10 due to its low speed and high density of arrows. Extreme also introduced a rating referred to as a "flashing 10" (as it is represented by all 10 feet icons glowing yellow), considered to be tougher than a standard 10.

On Dance Dance Revolution X, the foot rating system was given its first major overhaul, now ranking songs on a scale of 1-20, the first 10 represented by yellow blocks, and the second 10 represented by additional red blocks shown in place on top of yellow blocks. All songs from previous versions were re-rated on the new scale, including the flashing 10's, whose true difficulty in comparison to other flashing 10's is also now known as a result for the first time.

The highest known difficulty on the new scale is 18, Challenge charts featuring this rating include Pluto Relinquish ,Dead End (Groove Radar Special) (a special edit of Dead End made to max out all categories on the Groove Radar), Fascination Maxx, Fascination -Eternal Love Mix- (Single), Healing D-Vision, NGO (Single), PARANOiA ~HADES~, PARANOiA MAX ~Dirty Mix~ (SMM Special)(for Japan Home Version only), and Trigger, the hardest being Pluto Relinquish (Expert Double and Challenge).

Beginning in 6thMix, a "Groove Radar" was introduced, showing how difficult a particular sequence is in various categories, such as the maximum density of steps, how many jumps are in the steps, etc.

[edit] Groove Radar

The foot-rating system was completely removed for 6thMix, and replaced by the Groove Radar. The Groove Radar is a graphical representation of the difficulty of a song based in five different areas: Stream, Voltage, Air, Chaos, and Freeze. The Groove Radar was not very popular among seasoned DDR veterans. The foot-rating system would be restored to work with the Groove Radar in the North American home version of the game and in the next arcade version, DDRMAX2, and almost all future versions (except for versions based on the North American version of Extreme, which only use foot ratings). All of the 6thMix songs on 7thMix received foot-ratings, including the boss song MAX 300, which was now revealed to be the first "ten-footer".

Due to the removal of "Follow Me" and "Flash in the Night" from DDRMAX2, these 2 songs have never received foot ratings.

SuperNOVA 2 featured special edits of songs specifically meant to max out specific categories on the radar, culminating with Dead End (Groove Radar Special), maxing out all 5 categories.

[edit] Modifiers

Modifiers are changes that can be made to modify the step routine. Prior to 6thMix, codes were entered with the pad to activate modifiers. 6thMix replaced these pad codes with a new options menu accessed by holding down the start button when selecting a song.

Speed mods can increase or decrease the speed the arrows travel up the screen (sometimes making the arrows easier to read). Modifiers can also make the arrows more difficult to read, by adding effects such as the arrows only appearing when they reach halfway through the screen (or only appearing until halfway), hiding the arrows or the step zone altogether, making them rapidly accelerate as they reach the arrows, or travel up the screen in a "wave". The direction of the arrows can also be changed (moving down the screen rather than up it).

Some modifiers directly effect the stepchart itself. "Left" and "Right" change all the arrows to face 90 degrees left or right. "Mirror" flips the steps and patterns so all left and right arrows swap, and all of the up and down arrows swap. "Shuffle" creates a random swap of all of the arrows in a predetermined but different pattern each time. Some modifiers can remove elements from a chart to make it easier. Notes that are not on quarter beats (known as "Little/Cut") can be removed, and jumps (two arrows appearing at the same time) and freeze arrows can also be removed.

The color scheme of the arrows can also be changed. "Flat" makes all of the arrows have the same color, regardless of their step fraction. "Rainbow" (or "Solo" before Supernova) changes the colors of all arrows to the brighter colors used in Dance Dance Revolution Solo 2000 (such as orange for 4th notes, blue for 8th notes, and purple for 16th notes). Some versions include a color scheme called "Note", which replaces the cycling color scheme with constant colors such as red, blue, and yellow. Unlockable modifiers on Supernova 2 can also completely change the design of the arrows - to items such as kites, animals, heads of characters, the old pre-DDRMAX noteskin on DDR X, or extremely small arrows.

[edit] Extra Stage

The Extra Stage, was first introduced in DDR 1st in Japan,(player must score a S grade when playing Paranoia or Trip Machine, and rewards a extra stage, gameplay plays normal, but difficulty increases (for example, if the player plays on Basic, their difficulty now is Another.)) and it revives in 6thMix and appearing in subsequent arcade versions, rewards a player for receiving a grade of "AA" or higher on either Expert or Challenge difficulties on the final stage. The player receives the opportunity to play a free extra song, which often defaults to a very difficult song with forced modifiers (such as 1.5x speed and Reverse) and a battery bar similar to Challenge mode with 1-4 lives depending on their score in the final stage (or a non-regaining life bar before Supernova 2).

The default song for the extra stage is predetermined ("Max 300" for 6th Mix, "Maxx Unlimited" for 7th Mix - additionally forcing them to be played as the only option on the Extra Stage), although as of Extreme, any song can be played on the extra stage, although there is still a song that is designated as the Extra Stage (which usually is marked with red letters on the song wheel, and must be unlocked for regular play). A player who attains a grade of "AA" (except for "A" in SuperNova) on the Extra Stage is invited to play an additional stage, this time on sudden death mode (any combo breaking step or missed freeze will cause an instant failure). Usually if the "one more extra" stage (or Encore Extra Stage as it is known from SuperNova 2) is beaten, a special extended credits sequence is played.

With the implementation of e-Amusement in DDR, mixes after SuperNova have contained multiple songs as extra stages, often based on specific conditions.

In Dance Dance Revolution X, players who wish to play a different extra stage song will have to play songs with a cumulative difficulty of at least 40 in the first 3 stages. This will eventually allow players to play a different set of boss songs.

[edit] Modes & other features

Several other gameplay modes have appeared throughout the DDR series.

  • Nonstop modes contain themed courses consisting of usually 4 songs sometimes with a common theme. All the songs are played in order with no breaks in between, and all share the same lifebar and final score.
  • Challenge Mode, uses a battery or 4 parts of the dance gauge containing a limited number of lives, with lives lost if a judgment below Great is scored, often with forced modifiers to make reading the arrows harder. The battery or gauge is replenished upon successful completion of each song, although the amount given back is dependent on the unique settings of each course. Endless Mode appears on home version, which allows the player to play through numerous songs one after another. However, Endless Mode continues to queue up songs indefinitely, until the player quits or the Dance Gauge is depleted. The song order is random, but options are available to limit the songs to a certain difficulty or category.
  • Survival mode just like 'In The Groove' Survivor mode, needs to play songs with step modifiers and time, and the dance gauge uses 4 lives, which means if combo brokes or missed freeze 4 times is a failure. A hint of this mode is try not to bother the timer.
  • Combo Challenge is a challenge to see if how long the combo runs without breaking or score a N.G. on Freeze Arrow. (simillar to OMES, but it only plays for 1 song. CC mode is truly a endless mode.)
  • Workout Mode appears primarily on home versions, allowing the player to enter their weight and track approximate calories burned while playing. e-Amusement also provides this option on the arcade versions.
  • Event Mode is a game option whose function differs between arcade and home versions of DDR. On arcade machines, Event Mode is an operator setting that disables all menu timers, and not cause a player to fail a song immediately even when their dance gauge drops to zero. Some home versions do not contain the usual "stage" based play that arcade versions use, instead using an event mode like mode where unlimited numbers of songs can be played..
  • Unison Mode appears in 3rdMix, in which both players must dance to a special set of steps for a song. Steps are a single color and fly out from the bottom-center of the screen to each player's guide arrows. Players are not necessarily guaranteed to have the same set of steps.
  • Battle Mode, introduced in Dance Dance Revolution Disney Mix as Dance Magic mode but revived as Battle Mode on SuperNova, is a competitive mode between two players. Each player must play on the same difficulty and is given a shuffled version of the step chart. Creating combos can send one of many different attacks to the other player's side to make it more difficult for them to read their notes. Creating longer combos results in more damaging attacks. These attacks (especially the stronger ones) can include strange modifiers that cannot be selected under normal circumstances. The health bar is replaced by a "tug of war" style gauge to determine the winner.
  • Step Battle Mode appeared in Dance Dance Revolution 2nd Mix, where a chart is populated by areas where a player has to "record" steps for the other player, areas where the recorded steps are played, and areas where random steps are sent to each player.
  • Recent home versions have often contained mission modes (Dance master, Stellar mode, Hyper master etc.), requiring the player to play a song with specific conditions, modifiers, or requiring a specific condition to be met, unlocking new songs and other items if successful. These are often arranged on a grid of sectors, or with a themed series of storylines as with Dance Dance Revolution X.

[edit] Releases

Dance Dance Revolution has been released in many different countries on many different platforms. Originally released in Japan as an arcade game and then a Sony PlayStation game, DDR was later released in North American, Europe, Korea, the whole of Asia including China, Australia, New Zealand, South America and Mexico on multiple platforms including the Sony PlayStation 2, Microsoft Xbox, Nintendo Wii, and many others. Due to demand, Japanese versions of the game, which are usually different from the games released in other countries, are often imported or bootlegged. DDR fansites make an attempt to keep track of the locations of arcade machines throughout the major regions.

[edit] Arcade machines

An original Dance Dance Revolution machine.

A standard Dance Dance Revolution arcade machine consists of two parts, the cabinet and the dance platform. The cabinet has a wide bottom section, which houses large floor speakers and glowing neon lamps. Above this sits a narrower section that contains the monitor, and on top is a lighted marquee graphic, with two small speakers and flashing lights on either side. Below the monitor are two sets of buttons (one for each player), each consisting of two triangular selection buttons and a center rectangular button, used mainly to confirm a selection or start the game. The dance stage is a raised metal platform divided into two sides. Each side houses a set of four acrylic glass pads[1] arranged and pointing in the orthogonal directions (left, up, down and right), separated by metal squares. Each pad sits atop four pressure activated switches, one at each edge of each pad, and a software-controlled cold cathode lamp illuminating the translucent pad. A metal safety bar in the shape of an upside-down "U" is mounted to the dance stage behind each player. Some players make use of this safety bar to help maintain proper balance, and to relieve weight from the legs so that arrows can be pressed with greater speed and accuracy.

Some DDR cabinets are equipped with Sony PlayStation memory card slots, allowing the player to insert a compatible memory card before starting a game and save their high scores to the card. Additionally, the equivalent home versions of DDR allow players to create and save custom step patterns (edits) to their memory card — the player can then play those steps on the arcade machine if the same song exists on that machine. This feature is supported in 2ndMix through Extreme. It was expected that SuperNova would include memory card support. However, the division of Konami which handled the production of the memory card slots shut down, causing Konami to pull memory card support out at the last minute. SuperNova however, introduced Konami's internet based link system e-Amusement to the series, which can save stats and unlocks for individual players (but cannot store edits) using a globalized smart card inserted into a slot unit installed atop the sides of the cabinet on top of the speakers. This functionality however, could only be used in Japan. During the North American release of Dance Dance Revolution SuperNOVA 2, an e-amuse capable machine was made available at a Brunswick Zone Arcade in Naperville, Illinois. It, and one other machine located in the Konami offices of El Segundo, California, are currently the only e-amuse capable machines in the United States.

The Solo arcade cabinet is smaller and contains only one dance pad, modified to include six arrow panels instead of four (the additional panels are "upper-left" and "upper-right"). These pads generally don't come with a safety bar, but include the option for one to be installed at a later date. The Solo pad also lacks some of the metal plating that the standard pad has, which can make stepping difficult for players who are used to playing on standard machines. An upgrade was available for Solo machines called the "Deluxe pad", which was closer to the standard cabinet's pad. Additionally Solo machines only incorporate two sensors, located horizontally in the center of the arrow, instead of four sensors (one on each edge).

[edit] Home releases

The use of dedicated gamepads is only possible on home console versions.

DDR games have been released on various video game consoles, including the PlayStation, Dreamcast, Nintendo 64, PlayStation 2, GameCube, Wii, Xbox and Xbox 360, and even PC's. Home versions often contain new songs, songs from the arcade version, and additional features that take advantage of the capabilities of the console. For example, Xbox 360 versions such as the Dance Dance Revolution Universe series include support for online multiplayer and downloadable songs over Xbox Live, and high definition graphics. The Nintendo Wii version, Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party have additional game modes with support for the Wii Remote, allowing players to use the Wii Remote as an addition to regular play, and the sequel Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party 2 allows Miis to be used as an in-game character.

Home versions are commonly bundled with soft plastic dance pads that are similar in appearance and function to the Nintendo Power Pad. Some third-party manufacturers produce hard metal pads at a higher price.

DDR has even reached Nintendo's Game Boy Color, with five versions of Dance Dance Revolution GB released in Japan; these included a series of three mainstream DDR games, a Disney Mix, and an Oha Star. The games come with a small thumb pad that fits over the Game Boy Color's controls to simulate the dance pad.

A version of DDR was also produced for the PC in North America. It uses the interface of Dance Dance Revolution 4thMix, and contains around 40 songs from the first six mainstream arcade releases. It has not been as well received as the console versions.

The most common criticism of DDR home console versions is that they tend to provide a more limited selection of songs than in the arcade, despite the increased capacity of DVD storage media in more recent releases. In addition, many fan-favorite songs don't make it to the home versions, usually due to licensing restrictions. This is especially true of North American home versions of DDR. Japanese home versions, however, are usually released for every arcade version, and contain a complete selection of the new songs from that version, along with other new songs and features.

Another common criticism points to the relatively poor quality of most home dance pads, though dedicated fans of the series can find high-quality pads from third-party manufacturers. Some also modify stock pads or build their own pads from raw parts (see the dance pad article for more information).

[edit] Similar games

Gameplay screen in StepMania 4, an open source DDR clone.

Due to the success of the Dance Dance Revolution franchise, many other games with similar or identical gameplay have been created.

Commercial clones of DDR include the popular Korean series Pump It Up and the American series In the Groove by Roxor, which was met with legal action by Konami and resulted in Konami's acquisition of the game's intellectual property.[2] As well as TechnoMotion by F2 Systems, EZ2Dancer by Amuseworld, and MC Groovz Dance Craze by Mad Catz. A Christian version of DDR, named Dance Praise, has been made by Digital Praise.

Fanmade versions of DDR have also been created, many freely available to the public under the open source license. The most popular of which is StepMania (pictured), upon which the game In the Groove is based. These simulators allow for players to create and play their own songs to their own programmed steps. As a result, many DDR fans have held contests and released "mixes" of custom songs and steps for these simulators. Notably the Japanese Foonmix series and the DDR East Invasion Tournamix competitions. Other simulators include Dance With Intensity and pyDance for Windows, both of which are no longer developed, and Feet of Fury, a homebrew game for the Sega Dreamcast.

Besides direct clones, many other games have been released that center around rhythm and dance due to DDR's popularity. Dance! Online released by Acclaim combines dance pad play with an MMO element. ABC's Dancing With the Stars and Codemasters' Dance Factory are more recent examples of games that pay homage to DDR and the genre it created. Konami itself also mimics DDR in many of its other music games, taking music to and from DDR and other series such as beatmania and Beatmania IIDX, Drummania and GuitarFreaks, and Pop'n Music, as well as making references to DDR in its other games and vice-versa. A result of this synergy, the 7th versions of Beatmania IIDX and DDR shared the same "one more extra stage", a remix of the Chopin's Revolutionary Étude titled Kakumei, a collaboration between dj Taka and Naoki (who have both been regular recurring on their respective games).

[edit] DDR today

Tournaments are held worldwide, with participants usually competing for higher scores or number of Perfects (referred to as "Perfect Attack" tournaments). Less common are "freestyle" tournaments, where players develop actual dance routines to perform while following the steps in the game. [3]

[edit] Playing styles

Many DDR players, in order to better focus on timing and pattern reading, will minimize any extraneous body movement during gameplay. These players are commonly referred to as "technical", "tech" or "perfect attack" (PA) players. These technical players usually play the most difficult songs on the highest difficulty levels in an attempt to perfect their scores.

Other DDR players choose to incorporate complex or flashy techniques into their play movements, and some of these "freestyle" players develop intricate dance routines to perform during a song. Freestyle players tend to choose songs on lower difficulty levels, so that the player is not restricted in their movements by large quantities of required steps. Some players can even dance facing away from the screen.

A freestyling act can also involve performing other stunts while playing. On an episode of ABC's short-lived series Master of Champions, Billy Matsumoto won the episode when he played 5th Mix's "Can't Stop Fallin' In Love (Speed Mix)" on Heavy mode while juggling three lit torches.

[edit] As exercise

Many news outlets have reported how playing DDR can be good aerobic exercise; some regular players have reported weight loss of 10–50 pounds (5–20 kg). In one example, a player found that including DDR in her day-to-day life resulted in a loss of 95 pounds[4]. Some other examples would be Matthew Keene's account of losing upwards of 150 pounds and Yashar Esfandi's claim of losing 85 pounds in four months through incorporation of DDR. Although the quantity of calories burned by playing DDR have not been measured, the amount of active movement required to play implies that DDR provides at least some degree of healthy exercise.

Many schools use DDR as a physical education activity in gym,[5] and in Norway, DDR has even been registered as an official sport.[6]

Many home versions of the game have a function to estimate calories burned, given a player's weight. Additionally, players can use "workout mode" to make a diary of calories burned playing DDR and any self-reported changes in the player's weight.

[edit] Use in schools

At the start of 2006, Konami announced that the DDR games would be used as part of a fitness program to be phased into West Virginia's 765 state schools, starting with its 103 middle schools, over the next two years.[5] The program was conceived by a researcher at West Virginia University's Motor Development Center. Now DDR is used in many schools all over the USA.

Caltech allows its students to use DDR to fulfill part of its physical education requirement, as students may design their own fitness program.[citation needed]

KU has a class for Dance Dance Revolution open for students to take as a 1 credit hour course.

[edit] Awards

The success of the Dance Dance Revolution series has resulted in Guinness World Records awarding the series with: Gamer's Edition 2008. The records include, "Longest Dance Dance Revolution Marathon", "Most Widely Used Video Game in Schools", and "First Video Game Recognized as an Official Sport", when on December 9, 2003, the country of Norway gave "Machine Dancing" official recognition.[citation needed]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

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