Quick FactsDance_Dance_Revolution_Extreme_North_American_PlayStation_2_cover_art.png

  • Platforms: Arcade, PlayStation 2, PC (unofficial)
  • Suggested Platform: Arcade
  • Developer: Konami
  • Genre: Music/Rhythm, Exercise
  • Release Date: 12/25/02 (JP Arcades)
  • Why Play It?: It’s fun, engaging, a great way to work out, and immensely rewarding.
  • Why Skip It?: I don’t know why, but some people are embarrassed to play DDR. Plus, dancing around arrows isn’t for everyone.

Dance Dance Revolution! Anyone who was around in the late 90’s, early 2000s at least know about Dance Dance Revolution, or DDR as it is more commonly known. Throughout arcades everywhere, you could hear the catchy tunes, cheerful announcer, and high energy sound effects, goading you over to the Dance Dance Revolution machine. If you were successfully tempted over to the machine, you’d see a 29″ monitor resting inside a hulking ~7 by 6 foot metal monstrosity of lights, neon, and metal, not to mention the nearly 6 foot wide, 3 and half foot long raised dancing stage with it’s arrows and metal bars.

During Dance Dance Revolution’s heyday, you’d probably see a crowd of people around it with someone grooving out to some intense track. This is where I fell in love. As a kid, I first saw someone tearing it up in a movie theater arcade, with the DDR machine standing dead-center of the rectangular room; the rest of the machines hugging the perimeter, giving the DDR machine the real spotlight. I always wanted to be that guy, having everyone watch as I seamlessly hit the arrows going by at lightning speeds. Unfortunately, that never happened. As a kid, I was never good enough  (despite being the best of those I played with), and DDR and arcades in general were starting to diminish. Now that I’m finally good enough to rock out to some tunes on Heavy mode, there’s no one to crowd around me, and almost no arcades around.

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The hulking machine, in all of its glory.

That being said, whenever I do see a lone machine somewhere in the wild, I always play a few tracks, and generally get a few passersby to stop what they’re doing and watch. It’s no DDR culture like it used to be, but it’s something. As a child, it was always my dream to not only be good at DDR, but also to own my very own stand up DDR machine. I may not be as good as I want to be, but I do own that machine.

Okay, so, we’ve gotten this far without even explaining what DDR is. I kind of assume that most gamers at least get the gist, and if you’re not a gamer, you’re probably not reading this anyway (^_^’).  DDR is a music/rhythm exercise game. You’ll stand on the dance pad with its four arrows (up, down, left, right) and step on those arrows in tune to the music and when the arrows on-screen line up with the transparent arrows at the top of the screen. It’s as simple as that. Based on how in tune you get the step, your score will increase. As you increase in difficulty, the steps increase, both in frequency and difficulty. Tracks have different BPMs (Beats Per Minute) and so some tracks will be tougher than others, although those slow tracks do have a tendency to trip me up. There is hardly anything more rewarding than clearing a tough track,  or getting all Perfects on your favorite song.

I picked Dance Dance Revolution: Extreme as my Best Game Ever, but it really could be any of them. I just like the track list the best in DDR: Extreme, so really, any DDR, in my opinion, could make the list. After all, they all (pretty much) play the same. I play a lot of the PS2 version, but the Arcade version is by far superior. Not only are there more tracks, but there is nothing quite like playing on the metal dance pads of a DDR arcade machine.

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Gotta hit those arrows in tune with the music.

One thing that is great about the console releases though, is that there are many modes. Not only that, but unlocking songs is always fun, even though you might not start off with the tracks you want to dance to.

Let me talk briefly about Stepmania. Stepmania is practically a free DDR download for your PC. Do by aware that it is unofficial. You can download (for free) themes, songs, and customize pretty much everything about your DDR experience, and you typically don’t need that great of a PC to handle it. While some would say that this PC version is the ideal version of DDR (and in some ways, it is), getting your hands on a good USB dance pad can sometimes be tough. Not only that, but, again, metal arcade pads will always be the best in my book.

Dance Dance Revolution will always hold a special place in my heart and will always stand out, to me, as one of the best things you can do with video games. It’s exercise that’s actually fun! If you want to chat DDR with me, I’d love to hear it, and if you really want a heartwarming story on DDR, check out the 10K Commotion. It’s an amazing DDR comic that any DDR fan should read.

Thank you for playing!

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