Dance Dance Revolution Arcade Retrospective
WARNING: Obvious satire.
Dance Dance Revolution is a series of arcade rhythm games developed by Konami before they forgot how to make video games. As the name implies, it is a game where you sort of dance but mostly move your feet around very quickly.
In its initial form, DDR wasn’t even intended to be a dancing game at all. Series director Based God Kojima was at first inspired by the impressive footwork he saw when his son had to pee. Kojimi then created an arrow-based game around the peeing concept. Early in development, a team member played sweaty weeaboo anime music on his Bluetooth speaker while Kojima was watching a gameplay demo and the idea of a foot-based rhythm game stuck.
Some people have asked Lord Kojima why you don’t use your arms in Dance Dance Revolution, and his official response was, “Because arms suck deal with it.”
DDR was huge hit upon its initial 1998 Japanese release. It was particularly popular among skinny Japanese gamer boys, as they had not previously been exposed to exercise.
After a successful release in their home country, Konami decided it was time to bring their peeing game to the rest of the world, starting with the North America in 1999. The American promotional flyer billed DDR as the “The first dance simulation game ever,” so I guess Kojima hadn’t played Just Dance yet and accidentally wrote down the wrong thing. Regardless, Dance Dance Revolution proved to be just as popular among skinny American gamer boys as it had been for the Japanese boys. The difference was primarily that American boys thought they were cool when they played and this was wrong.
DDR saw its first true foe in 1999 with the release of Pump It Up from Andamario. I think Pump It Up wins because you get five panels to step on instead of just four, and that is a bigger number. Also you can pretend you are breakdancing but you still do not look cool.
In 2004, another challenger entered the competitive arcade dancing game arena: In The Groove from Roxor Games. In The Groove only has four panels and is just DDR but harder. Plus Konami sued Roxor and bought their game so I think DDR won that time.
Despite hundreds of Japanese releases within the same timeframe, American gamers did not see another DDR game in arcades until 2006’s Dance Dance Revolution SuperNOVA. Some gamers speculated that Konami only reentered the American market to solidify their victory over In The Groove and reclaim the hearts of dancing game fans everywhere. I think SuperNOVA is cool so I am not complaining but it is a shame that Konami didn’t give us more arcade games.
The next American release came with 2008’s Dance Dance Revolution X, with the X representing “This is x-actly how you should not make a Dance Dance Revolution game.” Betson (the U.S. distributor) wanted DDR X to be as accessible as possible, so they shipped all units with broken foot sensors and significant input lag. In retrospect, I think we can all see the genuineness in Betson’s attempt to bring in new players to the series: break the game and it becomes significantly easier to understand. But at the time, the core DDR community was irate. Personally I don’t see what all the fuss was about. X is a really cool letter so I’m sure the game was cool as well.
The most recent American release is Dance Dance Revolution A. With over 650 songs, players have never had so much variety. Additionally, e-AMUSEMENT support allows users to look at their own stats online just because. I think it is one of my favorite games because I have to drive an hour and 30 minutes just to play it.
After 20 years and over one million entries in the series, Dance Dance Revolution has most certainly made a name for itself. There are many fans who consider DDR A the greatest installment so far, but I think we all know which game the honor truly goes to.