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The Search for the Perfect DDR Mat: Shame is Plastic

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I was a fat kid.

 

All throughout Middle School, I struggled to climb the social ladder. We've all been through it, the awkwardness, the puberty, and the desire to belong. I wasn't always the most social kid around. In my time, being athletic was the only way to gain popularity. But alas, I was what most people called "a late bloomer."   I wasn't necessarily a nightmare, it was more of me being grossly out of shape and wanting to do something about it. So what did I do? I went to Gamestop with my parents.

 

Dance Dance Revolution, their flagship rhythm-action game which is developed under Konami's own music video game studio, Bemani, was on sale for 50 dollars. The best part was that it was bundled with a MadCatz branded dance mat. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

            Remember these guys? Me either.

It isn't the game that I hold my gripes with; it was the dance mat that I had trouble with. At the time, my entire house was hardwood. This means that the everyone in my house knew when I was playing DDR; this also meant that the hardwood combined with the weird vinyl texture of the dance mat made for some unstable gameplay, especially on the harder difficulties where your reflexes have to be sharpened to a point.

My solution? Tape. And lots of it. I'm talkin' about entire rolls of tape running out in a matter of days. This prevented the mat from slipping, but the only thing I couldn't solve was the wear and tear that these dance mats are put through. The mats are made of some sort of vinyl, which closely resembles a shower curtain. So it makes sense for the mats to break down after a while. And by a while, the mats usually lasted me a few weeks at best.

Back then, the dance mats didn't offer much variety, aside from visual differences, so I ended up going with every brand there was. In fact, I remember saving up 2 years' worth of birthday money to get the "Holy Grail" of dance mats. Since DDR is originally an arcade game, the arcade mats were sturdy, made of steel, and even lit up. They lit up. I had to have an arcade replica DDR mat. So after dishing out the 300 dollars and waiting for [what felt like] forever, it had arrived.

It was pure harmony. I could Riverdance all I wanted on it without fear of splitting it like a napkin. But, like many of these video game peripherals, they get banished to the basement.[and in the case of my steel mat, I ended up giving it to a cousin of mine.] After a long search through the Christmas ornaments and cobwebs, I found all my old mats. After a quick tape job, I fired up DDRMAX2 for the PS2.

                     It's worse under, trust me.

It was horrible. The vinyl mats didn't last the 10 years promised in the hardware guarantee. Arrows were constantly missed and the mat was unresponsive. Even getting navigating the menus had me stomping holes through the floor.  But like most gaming hardware, they break over time or through natural wear and tear.

Except my NES Advantage, that thing is built like a tank. Speaking of which, I should fire up some Contra.

	Images via Google.

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