Dance Dance Revolution (abbreviated DDR), 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 as part of the Bemani series, and released in North America and Europe in , 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 will celebrate its 10th anniversary this November 21 2008.
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 into 1/4 notes (base red notes), 1/8 notes (blue ones with a shorter gap than regular notes), and so on, 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"). When the scrolling arrows overlap the stationary ones, the player must step on the corresponding arrows on the dance platform. Longer green and yellow arrows referred to as "freeze arrows" must be held down for their entire length for them to count. 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 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). On some 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.
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 of yellow blocks. All songs from previous versions have been 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.
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.
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 DDRMAX Dance Dance Revolution and in the next arcade version, DDRMAX2 Dance Dance Revolution 7thMix. The Groove Radar and foot ratings are both used in Xbox and PS2 versions of the game. All of the 6thMix songs on 7thMix received foot-ratings, including the boss song MAX 300, which was now revealed to be a 10 on Heavy). But due to the removal of "Follow Me" and "Flash in the Night", these 2 songs have never received foot ratings.
Some of the available modifiers include:
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.
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 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).
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.
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).
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 by Andamiro 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. As well as TechnoMotion by F2 Systems, EZ2Dancer by Amuseworld, and MC Groovz Dance Craze by Mad Catz.
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 Flash Flash Revolution, an online Flash-based simulator, 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 Pop'n Music, as well as making references to DDR in its other games and vice-versa.
"Jump Jump Dance Party!" is the name of the fictional Dance Dance Revolution-esque game featured in the episode of Malcolm in the Middle entitled "Dewey's Special Class"
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 preforming other stunts whilst playing. On an episode of ABC's short-lived series Master of Champions, Billy Matsumoto played 5thMix's "Can't Stop Fallin' In Love (Speed Mix)" on Heavy mode while juggling three lit torches, and ultimately won the episode.
Many schools use DDR as a physical education activity in gym, and in Norway, DDR has even been registered as an official sport.
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.
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