Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Dance Dance Revolution

Four large buttons are arranged in a cross pattern on the floor - front, back, right, and left. As music plays, a stream of graphics tells you when to jump or step in order to press specific buttons in time with the music. Improve your rhythm and impress your friends while you get in shape!

It is a phenomenal workout. Fun, highly aerobic, and it scales well; no matter how good you get there will still be songs you find challenging. Start out in "easy" mode with 1-foot songs and gradually work your way up to harder versions - the scale goes up to 10-footers. By the time you master all the songs on one game - if you ever do - there will be a sequel with new complications and harder songs to master.

If solo mode is too easy, try "double mode" where all eight buttons are used or move to higher challenge levels on the songs you already know.

I first played DDR in Hong Kong around 1998, a few years before it showed up in the US. Video arcades are huge in Hong Kong; near Kowloon Park you can find one on almost every block. At first you'd find one "dancing game" per arcade but eventually they caught on to such a degree that you could find entire rooms of dancing games, complete with fans aimed at the playing stage and a disco ball overhead.

Variants: DDR Solo adds two more buttons on the diagonal - front-right and front-left. Various competitors have used other button layouts.

You can get home DDR versions for Playstation or XBox and you should. I recommend spending the extra money for a serious "soft pad" such as the Ignition from Red Octane. (The cheaper pads tend to slide around on the floor, bunch up, and give false positives, making for frustrating gameplay).

Conclusion: If you are at all interested in videogame-based workouts - and if you aren't, why are you reading this? - you should start by playing DDR both at home and in arcades. (My current favorite home game is DDR Max 2 for the PS2, but they're all good.)

ddrfreak - contests, tips, general info
ddrnation - sells all things DDR-related
Red Octane - makes several cool DDR pads
Konami DDR Gateway - official manufacturer site

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