Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dance Dance Revolution (Game)

Dance Dance Revolution, abbreviated DDR, and previously known as Dancing Stage in Europe and Australasia, is a 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 music library of original songs produced by Konami's in-house artists and an eclectic set of licensed music from many different genres. 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 is generally considered the first "machine dance" game, followed by games such as Pump It Up by Andamiro and In the Groove by Roxor. DDR celebrated its 10th anniversary on November 21, 2008.


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 a set of stationary 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, Almost (close miss), Boo (complete miss)). 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 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 some of the home versions, there is usually an option for event mode, where an unlimited number of songs can be played. 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.

Depending on the version of the game, dance steps are broken into various levels of difficulty, often by color. Difficulty is loosely separated into 3-5 categories depending on timeline:
DDR 1st Mix only started out with Basic (even though not mentioned) and it began using the foot + name rating. The highest difficulties were 6-foot (Genuine) on Singles and 7-foot (Paramount) on doubles. DDR 2nd Mix added the Another difficulty and increased the highest difficulty to 8-foot (Exhorbitant). DDR 3rd Mix added the SSR (Step Step Revolution) mode, which can only be accessed via input code and is played on Flat (all arrows are the same color) by default. The SSR mode was eliminated in 3rdMix Plus and USA, and the Maniac routines were folded back into the regular game. The highest difficulty was increased to 9-foot (Catastrophic). DDR 4th Mix removed the names of the song and made it simple by removing those names and organizing the difficulty by order. DDR 4th Mix Plus replaced some stepcharts with newer and harder ones (which will later on be known as Challenge Steps on later console versions).
Beginning in DDRMAX, 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, freeze arrows, etc. Excluding the U.S. Home Version, the step difficulty was removed in favor of the Groove Radar. DDRMAX2 re-added the foot ratings. DDRMAX2 added an official Oni/Challege difficulty which can only be accessed in Oni/Challenging Mode (Kakumei is the only Oni chart that can only be accessed by getting a AA on MaxX Unlimited as an Extra Stage). Also, that mix increased the maximum difficulty from a 9-footer to a 10-footer. Some songs were re-ranked in difficulty such as Drop Out and End of the Century being 8-footers to now 9-footers. On DDR Extreme, flashing 10-footers existed only on songs that producers felt were higher than the 10-footer rating. In addition, Beginner is a new difficulty added for beginners and the Oni/Challenge can be freely accessible, except for Extra Stage.
DDR SuperNOVA, while still has the foot ratings, removed the flashing 10-foot that existed on certain songs for unknown reasons. Later on, DDR SuperNOVA2 ditched the foot rating and replaced it with bars. However, all songs from the previous games remain identical, with very few changes to certain song difficulties such as Xepher Challenge being changed from a 10-bar to a 9-bar.

On Dance Dance Revolution X, the foot/bar rating system was given its first major overhaul, now ranking songs on a scale of 1-20, the first 10 represented by yellow bars, and the second 10 represented by additional red blocks shown in place on top of yellow bars. All songs from previous versions were re-rated on the new scale, including the flashing 10s, whose true difficulty in comparison to other flashing 10s is also now known as a result for the first time. The best way to calculate the new ratings of songs is to roughly multiply the previous difficulty rating to numbers between 1.3 to 1.5 and round it up. However, there are some dramatic changes in the way songs are rated; Bag (Expert - 10) is listed as Level 12, The Least 100 Seconds (Expert - 8) and Paranoia Hades (Difficult - 8) are listed as Level 14, and Arrabbiata (Expert - 9) is listed as Level 16.
The highest known difficulty on the new scale is 19, which are the Challenge charts of Valkyrie Dimension from the arcade version of Dance Dance Revolution X2, in both single and double.