Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Dance Dance Revolution
- This article is about the Dance Dance Revolution series in general. For the specific games in the series that also use the title, see the list of Dance Dance Revolution games.
|Dance Dance Revolution|
|Game modes:||1 player on 4 or 8 panels, 2 players on 4 panels each|
|Controls:||8 square panels, 6 buttons|
|Type:||Raster, standard resolution|
|Part of Bemani video game series. Also released as Dancing Stage.|
Dance Dance Revolution, or DDR for short, is a music video game series introduced by Konami in 1998. It was first released as an arcade game in Japan, and several variations have been produced, including those for home use. It is part of the Bemani music game series, and has been released under the title Dancing Stage in Europe.
The game is typically played on a dance pad with four arrow panels: up, down, left, and right. These panels are pressed using the player's feet, in response to arrows that appear on the screen in front of the player. The arrows are synchronized to the general rhythm or beat of a song, and success is dependent on the player's ability to time his or her steps accordingly.
Cabinet and controls
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 unusually large 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. The wide base of the machine leaves horizontal ledges on either side of the monitor, which may be used to mount cardboard displays that ship with the game, or to store player possessions such as mobile phones and backpacks.
Below the monitor are two sets of buttons, each consisting of two triangular yellow "Select" buttons, pointing left and right, and a middle rectangular green button labeled "Decide". These buttons are mounted on a raised plate, which forms a small lip between the monitor and the buttons. In some DDR communities, players may place their coins on this lip to form a "coin line", which signals that a player is waiting for his or her turn to play. There may also be PlayStation memory card slots located below the buttons, depending on the machine version.
On the floor in front of the cabinet is a raised metal dance platform, divided into two "pads". Each pad consists of nine 11-inch squares in a 3×3 matrix: four arrow panels for input (up, down, left, right), and five neutral metal squares. There are four pressure-activated sensors underneath each arrow panel, one placed at each edge. Mounted to the pad behind each player is a metal bar, resembling an upside down "U", which is commonly used to assist in balance.
Dance Dance Revolution Solo machines have smaller cabinets, and only one dance pad, with two extra arrows (up-left and up-right). The bar is also wider and angles towards the player.
In Dance Dance Revolution, a player must move his or her feet to a set pattern, stepping in time to the general rhythm or beat of a song. During normal gameplay, arrows scroll upwards from the bottom of the screen and pass over stationary arrows near the top (referred to as the "guide arrows" or "arrow casting"). When the scrolling arrows overlap the stationary ones, the player must step on the corresponding arrows on the dance platform. Failure to hit the correct arrows in time with the music will deplete the "Dance Gauge", or life bar, and can result in an instant game over. If a player successfully completes a song, he or she 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).
DDR is often criticized as being rigid and bearing little resemblance to actual dancing. Many 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" or "tech" or "perfect attack" (PA) players. However, there are those who prefer style over accuracy, and may incorporate complex or flashy techniques into their play movements. Some dedicated "freestyle" players will even develop intricate dance routines to perform during a song.
Songs and levels
Music in DDR comes from two primary sources: songs licensed from Toshiba-EMI's Dancemania collections, and music made specifically for the Bemani series by in-house artists such as Naoki Maeda. Most songs average between one and two minutes long, and may be edited from their original length to accommodate this limit. Exceptions include the three-song medleys in DDR Solo Bass and Solo 2000, and Long Version songs from DDR 5thMIX.
Music in DDR may be fast or slow, and may even change tempo. It is a common mistake to assume that slower songs must be easier; often, the exact opposite is true, as reading fast-scrolling and thus widely spaced arrows is often easier than reading lots of dense, slow-scrolling arrows.
Each song has multiple step patterns associated with it, rated in difficulty with 1 to 10 foot icons. The 1-3 foot step patterns are recommended for beginners, and 4-8 are of intermediate difficulty. Nine foot songs, commonly referred to as "catas" (short for "catastrophic", the label given to this difficulty of steps on 3rdMIX and DDR USA) generally require high levels of mastery of one of more specific DDR skills (such as stamina, rhythm recognition or special techniques such as "spins", "crossovers", or "gallops"), and being able to pass these songs is widely regarded as the mark of a proficient player. Last are the songs with 10 foot step patterns. There are very few of these, and the steps for all but one proceed at an incredible speed; runs containing 10 arrows per second are not uncommon. Extreme demands are placed on a player's physical endurance, as well as arrow reading and balancing capability; only a small percentage of players can pass these songs with ease. Only a chosen few of these painfully difficult steps are given the distinguishment of being a "flashing 10-footer", a step that goes above and beyond the normal call of impossibility attached to a 10-foot song. There are currently only 4 of these steps in existence, and all of them are widely known and feared among dancers who have ventured a try against them.
The newest version of DDR has the following difficulties:
- Beginner Mode: Most songs in this mode have a one-foot rating. All arrows are on beat, making it an ideal mode for those who haven't played before. The background shows an animated dancer playing the game, helping newcomers learn how the game works. However, by following the dancer players will learn to go back to the middle of the pad after every step. The problem is that this playing style only works well on the easiest of songs and is therefore heavily frowned upon by more experienced players.
- Light Mode: Also known as Basic in older versions. Most songs in this mode have a 2 to 4 foot rating. In most songs, the arrows tend to stay on the beat. It is a good difficulty for inexperienced players or for more proficient players who need a change of pace.
- Standard Mode: Also known as Trick or Another in older versions. In this mode, songs usually have a rating of 4 to 7 feet. At this point, arrows that are not on the beat are more common. This mode is made for intermediate players and for some proficient players who want to do a unique routine without the demands of Heavy mode.
- Heavy Mode: Also known as SSR (Step Step Revolution) or Maniac in older versions, heavy mode is the difficulty most proficient players dance to most. Songs here generally have 7 to 9 foot ratings, as well as some 10-footers, and feature complex dancing patterns.
- Challenge/Oni: A special difficulty that is similar to Heavy, but is more focused on skill, putting an emphasis on each step. It is made for Challenge Mode (see below) and only available for some songs. Some songs are only available in the Oni difficulty. The only way to select this difficulty is to change the difficulty in the song selection (by pressing down-down) or to use the modifier screen (by holding the green button when selecting a song).
Higher foot ratings generally bring more and more arrows in more elaborate and difficult arrangements, Freeze Arrows which require the foot to remain on the appropriate square, and syncopation. Sometimes the scrolling arrows will stop completely to match a gap in the music, and resume unexpectedly. Players may also introduce modifiers, such as distorting the patterns of the steps and changing the scroll speed of the arrows. This is done in newer versions by holding down the start button for a few seconds when choosing the song (as opposed to just tapping the button).
Nonstop and Challenge/Oni Mode
Newer DDR games feature one or both of these special modes. In both modes, the dancer chooses a course which consists of four or more pre-determined songs, and then plays them all in order without any breaks between songs. When playing at the arcade, these courses often give the player more songs than a normal game would.
In Nonstop mode, introduced in the arcade version of Dance Dance Revolution 3rdMIX, courses are normally made of 4 songs (some home versions feature courses with more songs). Each song in each course has given difficulty of either Light or Standard. Players can choose to up the difficulty so Light songs become Standard and Standard songs become Heavy. Play proceeds as normal, with each of the four songs being played one after another. Until recently, Nonstop was available only on machines up to 4th Plus, but DDR Extreme brought the popular play mode back. Modifiers can be added to the course by holding the start button when selecting the course.
Challenge/Oni Mode, however, is much harder. Introduced in DDRMAX2, players choose a course with 5-10 songs (some home versions feature more or less). Each song in each course is again designated a difficulty, usually Heavy. Unlike Nonstop Mode, the difficulty for a course cannot be changed. Players must then play through the course with only four lives. Judgments of Good or worse (Non-Combo steps) will result in the loss of a life, as well an N.G. for not holding a Freeze Arrow. The Life Bar is replenished upon successful completion of each song, but the amount of lives given back is predetermined and depends on the course. Losing all four lives life results in immediate failure, and any unplayed songs in the course are forfeited. Unlike Nonstop mode, modifiers cannot be added to the course whatsoever. There are, however, courses with pre-selected modifiers per song. (NOTE: In the United States, Challenge Mode appears in the home version of DDRMAX, but that version was actually developed after the arcade version of DDRMAX2.)
- Getting a Miss on the beginning of a Freeze Arrow only causes one life to be lost; this is because N.G.s are only given if the Freeze Arrow is attempted in the first place. However, a Freeze Arrow can be considered attempted if it is stepped with a Boo or higher. Thus, getting a Boo or Good on the Freeze Arrow, and then continuing to get an N.G. will result in two lives lost, not one.
- In DDR Extreme, both Nonstop and Oni courses feature a "Marvelous" step rating, which rates higher than Perfect.
Featured in many home versions of DDR, Endless mode lets the player select a song playlist, modifiers, and difficulty (or a random difficulty for each song), and keep playing random songs until the player runs out of energy.
DDR games award players a score, usually in the millions of points, and a letter grade, from "E" (fail) to "AAA" (all Perfect and/or Marvelous).
In later releases, the score system is weighted towards steps later in the song, so a Perfect near the end is worth many times more than one at the beginning. The intention is to give a losing player a chance of a comeback all the way to the last step. However, serious players are often upset to see a clearly superior overall performance outscored by someone lucky enough to make more of their mistakes early on. These players usually prefer to determine the winner by whoever scores more Perfect steps (a system known as "Perfect Attack", or PA).
The "MAX" scoring system is the most popular system for grading, due to it being the newest, and most innovatively organized. The grades, in order from best to worst, are: "AAA", "AA", "A", "B", "C", "D", and "E" (failing). In order to obtain these grades, you must obtain, respectively, 100%, 93%, 80%, 65%, 45%, or less than 45% total Dance Points. Dance Points are earned as followed: Perfect: +2 Great: +1 Good: 0 Boo: -4 Miss: -8 O.K.: +6 N.G.: 0
"AA" (pronounced "double A") is a popular target, because it signifies a high level of mastery. Also, since DDRMAX, earning a AA on at least Heavy difficulty for the final song triggers the message, "TryExtraStage!". In DDRMAX and DDRMAX2 , the Extra Stage is a preselected and extremely difficult song. Extra Stage arrows scroll upside-down and faster than usual, adding to the challenge. A "OneMoreExtraStage!" known as the Encore Stage is triggered by a AA score on Extra Stage. In DDR Extreme, the player can choose the Extra Stage, but the additional bonus stage is still accessible only through a AA on a specific difficult song, and Encore Stage is still preselected. The Extra Stage life bar is more punishing to players in that it does not replenish as a player does well. Encore Stages, while ordinarily easier than Extra Stage songs, fail players for getting a No Good or receiving a rating of Good or worse on any single step.
Dancers can also try to get the highest Max Combo possible. A combo is accumulated by getting consecutive Great or higher ratings on steps, and broken by getting anything lower. A combo is displayed on screen when a player gets a combo of 4 or more. On certain modes in certain mixes, a Great will only keep a combo where it is, without increasing it as it normally would.
Reference and information on earlier scoring systems: AaroninJapan.com
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 in the United States are in that state.
DDR can also be played at home using the Sega Dreamcast, Sony PlayStation, PlayStation 2 or Microsoft's Xbox consoles (There is also a version in the works for the Nintendo GameCube, to be released in Japan in Summer 2005). They use a dance mat, 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, such as those sold by Cobalt Flux, are also available. Alternatively, several manufacturers such as RedOctane sell mats similar to the plastic mats but containing a foam rubber insert. Some dance pads connect directly to a television, and carry a limited number of songs in their internal memory.
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. Players can easily create their own step sets for DDR songs, and with a bit more effort can learn to create step files for any song. Clones include Dance With Intensity for Microsoft Windows; StepMania for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X; the Macromedia Flash-based Flash Flash Revolution; and the cross-platform pydance, which runs in a Python environment on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux among others. A particularly novel DDR simulator called Text Text Revolution can be displayed on text-only terminals. An official, Konami-made version of DDR exists for the PC as well. It has the interface of 4thMIX, and contains a comparatively small number of songs from 1stMIX through 6thMIX. Some feel, however, that it does not compare to the console editions. Most PlayStation and Xbox dance mats can be used via USB controller adapter; however, only some of the adapters are compatible with dance mats, as the rest cannot handle the simultaneous presses of Left + Right that the game requires. The StepMania web site contains a list of compatible adapters. In addition, some companies, such as LevelSix, sell dance pads that connect directly into a USB port.
In The Groove is a new series of dance games with gameplay markably similar to DDR. The first version of In The Groove was available only as an upgrade path for regular DDR cabinets, however Andamiro is developing Dedicated Cabinets for In The Groove 2. The game is also being published for the Playstation 2 by RedOctane , due out May 2005.
The DDR phenomenon
Many players would tell you that playing at home is an excellent way to practice, and it saves money in the long run compared to playing in the arcade. However, many would also say that 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. Some players enjoy showing off by looking away from the screen, dropping to the floor to press arrows with their hands, as well as other distractions.
DDR is a phenomenon around which subcultures of fans and enthusiasts have gathered. 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. One of the largest examples of this is the European Cup (held by DDR Europe), gathering players from all over Europe.
Often, DDR and its players are initially eschewed as odd or worse by many people; however, after playing the game, many of these people come to understand why DDR is so popular and entertaining. This only contributes to the phenomenon that is DDR.
Playing DDR can be good aerobic exercise; some regular players have reported weight loss of 10-50 pounds. One player reports that including DDR in their day-to-day life resulted in a loss of 95 pounds. It is argued however that the cases of significant weight loss have all been stories where a significantly overweight player loses a few pounds, and then becomes motivated to take action to lose weight, including dieting, and regular gym attendance. Although reports of weight loss have not been scientifically measured, a handful of schools use DDR as a physical education activity, and in Norway, DDR has even been registered as an official sport.
Dozens of fan websites have been created in response to DDR's popularity. In the United States, one of the most popular is DDR Freak, which was originally formed in 2000 to promote DDR in the San Francisco Bay Area. It has since become an international player resource, featuring DDR-related news coverage, codes and "step charts" for the various games, a database of machine locations, Internet forums, a web radio station and an IRC channel. DDR Freak's forums are heavily trafficked, and boast over 50,000 members as of 2004.
Aaron In Japan is another popular website, and is geared more towards "tech" players. The site's forums tend to discuss specific DDR issues, such as technique and timing on specific songs or mixes, or reverse engineering of scoring and grading systems. The largest section of the website is dedicated to storing photographic records of "AAA" grades accomplished by DDR players worldwide.
- List of dance games
- Dancing Stage (UK version of DDR)
- Dance pad
- Comparison of panel-based music video games
- Konami's official DDR arcade website (Japanese)
- Konami's official DDR home version website (Japanese)
- Dance Dance Revolution's entry on KLOV, with links to entries on the main games in the series
- DDR Freak - North American DDR community and news website
- Category at ODP
- DDRers' Stompin' Ground - comprehensive reference website for all Dance Dance Revolution games (Japanese)
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