Can’t stop falling in love: Dance Dance Revolution’s 20th anniversary

In September 1998, a new style of game popped up in arcades. A dancing game, to test your rhythm – and your foot-to-eye co-ordination – to the limits.

Dance Dance Revolution really did change the world (and help us all count to 8).

It’s crazy to think that DDR turned 20 in 2018. That’s adulthood in Japan, y’know.

Guess the intro

We take it most of you are DDR fans already, so we’ll keep the explanation short. But if you don’t know DDR yet… where’ve you been for 20 years?

‘Dance Dance Revolution’ is a Konami series, born from that Bemani (Beat Mania) craze in the mid-late 90s.

It’s the musical arcade game, the one you recognise straight away. Mainly from the pink and blue lights, pulsing beat, and dancefloor-sized play area.

Pick a song, and a difficulty level, and get ready to move. Step in the right direction on the floor panels to match arrows hitting the top of the screen. Being accurate (on the beat) scores higher. Miss too many times, and it’s game over.

It sounds so easy… it’s so not. The hardest levels are called nice, encouraging things like ‘Heavy’, ‘Expert’, and ‘Maniac’ in different DDR games.

But when the steps are simple, they’re something everyone can do. DDR makes you feel like you’re dancing.

Let the beat hit ’em!

Over 2 decades, the DDR universe kept on moving.

2nd Mix was released in early 1999, just 4 months after the original Dance Dance Revolution. And when 3rd Mix came out that same year, there’d already been 10 spin-off games released in between.

Including re-releases, Disney specials, Japan-only games, and ‘Dancing Stage’ versions, there are over 120 DDR games at this point.

Those include sidesteps onto home/portable game consoles – the PlayStation (1 and 2), Dreamcast, Gamecube, N64, the Gameboy Colour, and even 90s mobile phones (‘DDR Finger Step’).

And that move gave us: the dance mat.

Stomp to your own rhythm

See, the DDR dance mat changed how people played.

It meant the freedom to play at home whenever, and to dance for longer, without anyone staring at your feet. Spread out over enough time, it cost less than putting yet more coins in the arcade machine. And the only high score there to beat was your own.

Dance Dance Revolution also gave ‘gamercise’ a boost. Steps burn calories, it’s a no-brainer.

As they plugged straight into the console, dance mats sometimes worked as ‘controllers’. Using them to play other games is… interesting. Street Fighter becomes ‘Feet Fighter’! Okay, we made that name up, but you’ve gotta agree it works.

A quick look on YouTube shows people testing out dance mats with PC games, Call of Duty, Dark Souls 3, Super Mario 64, and Kingdom Hearts 2.

Which tracks are Brilliant 2U?

Hundreds of games means hundreds – pushing thousands – of songs. Some covers, some borrowed, some made for DDR.

Our 20 fave Dance Dance Revolution songs’d be:

  1. Nori Nori Nori
  2. Groove 2001
  3. Dive
  4. Boom Boom Dollar (K.O.G G3 Mix)
  5. Kakumei
  6. Spin the disc
  7. Captain Jack (Grandale Remix)
  8. Crash!
  9. www.Blonde Girl (Momo Mix)
  10. Un Deux Trois
  11. Hot Limit
  12. Candy*
  13. Tsugaru
  14. Drop The Bomb
  15. Kind Lady
  16. Sweet Sweet Love Magic
  17. 321 Stars
  18. Trip Machine Climax
  19. Vanity Angel
  20. AA

Can you tell we grew up with Dancing Stage EuroMix 2? (If you’re from outside Europe, that was either DDRMAX 6th Mix or DDRMAX 2.) And we miss Captain Jack…

Taking steps in a new direction

2 decades of upbeat, arrow-stomping awesomeness are (obvs) being marked with new songs, special LINE stamps, and new DDR merch. There are at least 5 anniversary songs:

  • Max 360
  • Show me your moves
  • POSSESSION (20th anniversary mix)
  • CHAOS Terror-Tech mix
  • #OurMemories

They’re bonus tracks in the 20th anniversary compilation, DDR Selection.

Wanna hear something cute? The lyrics for #OurMemories are all collected from fans on Twitter. Awww.

If your Japanese is good enough, listen out for the references to ‘stepping forward with confidence’, and ‘following the arrows in the right direction’.

A special goods collection for Village Vanguard launched mid-December 2018. We kinda liked the look of the arrow-shaped pin badges, and the long muffler towel.

So we headed over to our local VV the day after release… and saw this.

That’s a (nearly) empty shelf. No T-shirts, no towels, no badges, no hoodies. All snapped up. When there’s a free e-amusement card on offer if you spend over 4,000 yen, DDR fans don’t mess around.

We’ll be lurking on Yahoo! Auctions Japan for this stuff for the next 2 weeks…

More items, like the arrow panel floor mat and logo keyrings for every main DDR game, are out in spring 2019. We think those are limited to arcade UFO catchers, but let’s wait and see.

Arrows pointing to the future~

There’s gonna be a DDR Hollywood movie? Okay then. The 20th anniversary site’s also been teasing a brand new DDR game. So it’s clear they’re not gonna stop any time soon.

Keep in time with the endless rhythm of Dance Dance Revolution releases. Find and buy the games, classic merch, and any limited goods that show up on J-websites via DEJAPAN.

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