Hey there, everybody. I really procrastinated with this week’s article. I could not, for the life of me, figure out what to write about. But hey, I guess I found a winner in the end, didn’t I? Plus, it’s my first-ever hardware review, which is special because…it’s not just a game, I guess. Since it’s the first, I don’t have a preexisting format to follow. I suppose I’ll just dive in and see what happens.
For those not in the know, Dance Pad Mania, as their website boldly claims, is “The #1 website for all your PC dance pad needs.” And honestly, I’d have to agree with them. In the age of StepMania, Dance Pad Mania has swooped in to provide us PC and Mac players with continuous support. They offer standard plastic pads and deluxe foam pads for both Dance Dance Revolution and Pump It Up gameplay. Today, like my title would lead to believe, I’ll be discussing the Basic Dance Pad, because I do not have money.
The Basic Dance Pad is exactly what you would expect it to be: a flat, plastic, non-stick, Konami-esque, four-arrow pad. The pad receives its power directly from the 9-foot USB cable used to connect it to your computer. The cable length is a very happy medium ground. It’s long enough that you can stand a fair distance away from the screen and you won’t accidentally yank your laptop onto the floor, but it’s also not unnecessarily lengthy. The cable is protected by what feels like a fairly durable rubber coating. Obviously, you shouldn’t tug on it too much, but it’s certainly protective enough for average player usage.
As for the pad itself, it purportedly features “arcade-sized circuitry,” and “…super-sensitive, no-delay technology.” The size of the foot panels are, in fact, the standard arcade size. After playing with it for a little over two months, I can confirm that the Basic Dance Pad works beautifully. The panels are very sensitive. Most of the time, just your heel or toe will register an input. (After an extended use, it can be a little shaky but still oh-so sensitive.)
The inputs are also incredibly accurate. If there is any input lag, it’s nigh imperceptible, because I certainly haven’t encountered any. In my experience, the pad may have dropped an input once or twice, but definitely only after extended use. The only real problems with this specific pad are problems that plague all pads. I’ve always found jacks (quick repetitions of the same arrow) to be troublesome on plastic pads. While it may be easier with the precision of the Basic Dance Pad, it’s still not as effective as a metal arcade pad. But in all honesty, there aren’t many problems at all. The Basic Dance Pad is pretty rad—no joke.
In addition to the four foot panels, there are four menu controls: a BACK button at the top-left, a SELECT button at the top-right, an X button to the left of the up-arrow, and an O button to the right of the up-arrow. These four buttons can all serve the serve the same two purposes (exiting and selecting) depending on how you configure your controls in StepMania. While it may have unnecessary to include all four buttons, it’s nice to know that Dance Pad Mania has given players more options.
If you’re worried about slipping, don’t. The fabric-like surface of the Dance Pad Mania pad clings to your feet just enough that you won’t find yourself tripping up very often. In my opinion, this material is much less slippery than the more plastic-like surfaces of the Konami pads (especially that gosh darned PlayStation 2 pad). Even better, the underside of the pad is made of non-slip material, so you won’t slide around on hardwood or tile floors. I can’t really confirm if it’s better or worse than the Konami pads, but it is pretty great. Of course, the bottom of the pad doesn’t cling to carpet too well. I often find the pad titled to the left after I finish particularly demanding songs. That’s simply a carpet thing, though. I don’t think Dance Pad Mania can avoid that particular hurdle.
For the first two months or so of use, the Basic Dance Pad was fairly silent with each step. Now, after extended use, it’s got that crinkly sound and feeling that I’ve come to expect with plastic pads. I imagine this is an unavoidable hurdle of the hardware, and it’s not too bothersome. At the very least, my two-month-old Dance Pad Mania Basic Pad still sounds considerably better than my 10-year-old Wii pad and my 15-year-old PlayStation 2 pad.
At the very least, I am very pleased with how the pad rests on the floor. Even after being folded up multiple times, it’s still very flat and doesn’t show any major signs of use. One thing that is slightly odd is that the corners have never lay flat—not even on the day I got the pad. Still, the foot panels are a flat, comfortable surface, and that’s all that really matters.
My biggest complaint with the pad isn’t exactly a fault of the pad itself. At $44.99, the price just a bit steep. I don’t know how much Konami pads were back in the day, but you can buy third-party PS2 pads for $19.99 on Walmart.com, so maybe that’s something. However, I suppose the $45 is plenty justified when you consider the impeccable quality and durability of the pad construction. The pad may not last forever, but boy howdy will it last a long time. Also, it’s a heckuva lot cheaper than a metal pad, right?
If the pad sounds cool to you so far, you’ll be happy to know that, even with free ground shipping, you won’t have to wait too long to receive your pad. However, if you’re that eager to play, you can also purchase expedited shipping (3 to 5 business days) for $5.00, two-day shipping for $11.00, or one business day shipping for $22.00. In all honesty, if you’re considering expedited shipping, I would just go with the free ground shipping. It may vary based on your location, but like I said, I hardly had to wait.
The Basic Dance Pad is compatible with all versions of Windows (including Windows 10) and Mac OS Mavericks or later (including Yosemite, El Capitan, & Sierra). Quick PSA: If you plug in your pad for the first time and it doesn’t do anything, don’t freak out. You’ll have to configure the pad controls within StepMania first.
Do I recommend this PC-based plastic pad? Abso-flippin’-lutely. You can head over to DancePadMania.com to purchase one for yourself.
I mean, if you want to.