If there is one gaming category going through a renaissance right now, it would have to be the music genre. The plastic instruments, mats, and turntables of the past might have found new homes in closets and dumpsters worldwide, but those who just want to dance have proven that waggling is the wave of the future. One must remember, however, the way Dance Dance Revolution revolutionized music titles in its heyday, leading the scene with four arrows long before cameras and motion controls took over. This iconic franchise might have burned through its 15 minutes of fame faster than Rebecca Black, but much like a greatest-hits album, I keep coming back to the J-pop legend.
And I have the dance mats to prove it.
Much like the classic rock station I catch myself listening to on a daily basis, I feel that DDR is still a healthy part of my gaming diet. Sure, the modern-day games in the series are akin to Guns N' Roses’ Chinese Democracy, but I still enjoy the releases that are the video game equivalent to GNR’s catalog pre-Axl Rose weight gain.
Speaking of weight, this series is the only one that has ever helped me shed some pounds. Some people claim that their glorified yoga sessions in Wii Fit helped them slim down their figures, but a rigorous routine of daily DDR in my college dorms with like-minded friends helped me shave off more than 10 pounds.
So why did I stop playing? Maybe it was the flimsy plastic mats that would slide every which way. Maybe it was my move to a top-floor apartment with less-than-patient neighbors below. Maybe it was the weaker and weaker mixes — with a particularly nasty mix featuring Coldplay. Whatever it was, my sessions ground to a halt, and Harmonix’s hot Rock Band took their place.
However, it was just a few months ago that I became addicted to Konami's step-friendly franchise all over again. My wonky piece of plastic was still there, but I needed something…better. A quick browse on Craigslist led me to find the ultimate piece of DDR fandom: a metal mat, complete with arcade-style parts. The best part? It was going for only $40! Fifty miles and two hours later, it belonged to me.
The mat is a considerable upgrade from my old plastic one, which had collected more dust in the corner of my closet than I care to state. While playing at home was out of the question, I could still bring my newest toy to other places. It looked like those Dance Dance Revolution sessions were back — even if they were at somebody else’s house. Turns out I still have a lot of heavy-level songs I need to master in order for me to get back to my former, nine-footed glory.
Do I think DDR will ever take back the world by storm? Not in my lifetime. Still, even though I’ll never see Katy Perry gushing about it or President Obama discretely buying a copy, that doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy those four arrows any less.
Just like a greatest-hits album, this legend never dies.