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Beatmania – The Legend of the Music Game Genre

Beatmania - The Legend of the Music Game Genre

December of 1997 marked a time in gaming history where there was something that was genuinely fresh and new. 

As a staple of the now immensely popular BEMANI series of games, the original “beatmania” was released to Japanese arcades. 

At launch, there were two different type of arcade cabinets which were released, the first being a 29”  screen “standard” cabinet which contained a total of 10 speakers speakers and 2 subs, the second being a “mini” cabinet which had a 20” screen and a total of 6 speakers, 4 mid/high range speakers and 2 subs. 

The turntable on the mini was about half the diameter of the standard size cabinet. The game is played with 5 keys and a turntable where players are required to hit the proper corresponding key with the note falling as it hits the timeline on the bottom of the play field. It sounds simple, but trust me when I say, it’s not. It’s also not Guitar Hero, so that’s a poor comparison too.

Mix After Mix – the timeline of beatmania

Beatmania has had a LARGE number of versions, spin-offs and other cool things that has been done with the brand. I want to take a small amount of time to outline the versions that are part of the MAIN line of games. 

I will loosely touch on the games that were released in arcade that aren’t technically part of the main series of games, but we’re not going to go too deep into them.

Beatmania 

Released to Japanese arcades on December 31st 1997 with a home release in October of 1998. Beatmania is the very first “bemani” game ever released. The game featured a total of 13 songs ranging across genres such as Reggae, Techno, and House.

Beatmania 2ndMIX 

Released to Japanese arcades on March 18th 1998. Beatmania 2nd MIX added on to the popularity of the initial beatmania by adding a number of songs as well as the introduction of Hidden mode, where notes disappeared halfway down the screen.

Beatmania 3rdMIX 

Released to Japanese arcades on September 28th 1998. As with the 2nd mix, the game added even more songs for players to perform as well as being the first version of the game which kept track of your play combo. Beatmania 3rd Mix was also the only version of Beatmania to be released in Europe.

Beatmania completeMIX – 

A compilation release of 1st MIX, 2nd MIX, and 3rd MIX with some new content added as well. Released to Japanese arcades January 19th 1999. Complete Mix had a total of 44 songs for the player to perform.

Beatmania 4thMIX ~the beat goes on~ – 

Released to Japanese arcades on April 26th 1999. This is the first beatmania game which had a tagline included in the title of the game. Beatmania 4thMIX was kind of a rebirth for the game as it removed all of the previous songs from older versions and hosted a total of 23 brand new songs as well as being the first beatmania game to feature licensed songs and crossover songs from other Bemani titles.

Beatmania 5thMIX ~Time to get down~ – 

Released to Japanese arcades on September 22nd 1999. Beatmania 5thMIX was the first beatmania game to feature Dancemania licensed songs much like Dance Dance Revolution. Beatmania 5thMIX was also the last version of beatmania to not count combo in the history of the franchise.

Beatmania completeMIX 2 

Similar to completeMIX, this was a compilation of most songs from 4thMIX and 5thMIX games with new content added such as a center mode play style. Released to Japanese arcades on January 27, 2000. The US version was released as HipHopMania CompleteMIX 2 in the summer of 2000 with all of the licensed tracks removed.

Beatmania 6thMIX ~the UK Underground~ 

Released to Japanese arcades on July 11th 2001. Beatmania 6thMIX was the first beatmania game to be released after a nearly two year hiatus of the 5-key version of the game. Once again, all previous beatmania songs have been removed, and were replaced with a brand-new set of 27 songs which include a handful of licensed or commissioned songs by UK artists. This version also saw the renaming of charts from Another mode charts being named Maniac. 

Beatmania 7thMIX ~Keepin’ Evolution~ 

Released to Japanese arcades on January 31, 2002. Beatmania 7thMIX introduced a gameplay mechanic called one-way scratches which required the player to scratch the turntable in a continuous spin until the end of the green section displayed on the play field. Furthermore, the previously renamed Maniac charts have been re-named back to Another.

Beatmania The Final – 

The final 5key beatmania release which was released to Japanese arcades on July 26th 2002. Beatmania THE FINAL was the last title of the original beatmania series. Beatmania THE FINAL has the biggest song list of the original beatmania series, which includes several revived songs from every beatmania arcade game (outside of beatmania DREAMS COME TRUE), a handful of BEMANI crossovers, and almost all of the beatmania III new songs.

Now as you can see, there is quite the gap between completeMIX 2 and 6thMIX, almost a whole year and a half. This is because there were actually 3 other 5key beatmania games which were released between them which are technically not part of the MAIN line of games. Those releases are;

Beatmania Club Mix  Released to Japanese arcades on March 28th 2000

Beatmania Club Mix was a special version of the game which featured prolific artists of the time such as Yukihiro Fukutomi, Tatsuya Nishiwaki, and a cover of TOKIO which was originally written for Kenji Sawada by Shigaesato Itoi of Mother fame, Cosa Nostra, and Shinichi Osawa alias DJ MURPHY.

Beatmania featuring Dreams Come True 

This is the first beatmania which had ‘hold’ scratches where the player had to continuously spin the turntable until the indicated end. 

Beatmania DCT was also the only version of Beatmania to have track previews on the song select screen. Something that wasn’t revived until many years later in Beatmania IIDX 20 Tricoro. 

Beatmania Dreams Come True was released to Japanese arcades on May 31st 2000. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Dreams Come True, they are a 3 member band who rose to popularity in the 1990’s and have sold over 50 million copies of their records to date worldwide. Each song in this version of beatmania is from the Dreams Come True discography.

Beatmania Core Remix 

A release with remixes of many popular songs throughout the series, released to Japanese arcades on November 28th 2000.

You can also see that there are ONLY Japanese releases on this list. Don’t fret, here are the international releases;

Korea had all releases up until the 5th mix with many songs being removed, specifically those with Japanese lyrics. They also changed the name of the game from beatmania to beatstage.

North America also had their fair share of releases as well, well 3 to be exact. It also had a name change from beatmania to HipHopMania.

HipHopMania – 

Released to North American arcades in 1997, it contained all of the songs from the Japanese release of beatmania. In the Summer of 1998, Southern Hills Golfland was home to a tournament run by Konami to help promote the HipHopMania franchise even further in the United States.

HipHopMania completeMIX

Released to North American arcades in 1999, this also contained all of the songs from the Japanese completeMIX release.

HipHopMania completeMIX 2

Released to North American arcades in 2000, this included most of the songs from the Japanese release. 10 songs in which the licenses were unable to be obtained for US release were removed.

Welcome to the Cyber BeatNation – beatmania IIDX

Beatmania IIDX was the “evolution” of beatmania which was released subsequently to the 5key beatmania. Aside from the name, the game had a major overhaul and also added 2 more keys bringing the total to 7keys from the previous 5keys. 

The cabinet was also renewed with a complete new design and a widescreen projector monitor. Beatmania IIDX was released on February 26th 1999. The concept of the game is the same, however thanks to hardware revisions, the game is able to provide a much higher fidelity of sound. 

I don’t want to get TOO in-depth for IIDX here because there will be another article for it specifically due to its extensive history. But for beginners, it’s had a total of 27 arcade releases, 14 console releases, and 1 PC release.

The Beat Goes On, Beatmania III

In March of 2000, Konami unleashed Beatmania III to Japanese arcades. Beatmania III saw a return to the 5-key format that made the original release of beatmania popular, however this time they added a foot pedal which would be utilized in songs which had a special “foot” chart. Beatmania III also expanded on the effector system giving players a plethora of possibilities to add various effects to the songs that they were playing. 

Even more, the game was the first version of beatmania which allowed players to save their personal scores. 

This was not done online, rather the player was required to plug a floppy disk into the machine which allowed them to save their scores. The floppy disk also allowed players to access special modes as well as unlock special songs within the game. 

Beatmania III had a fairly short lifespan as it only was in arcades for two years with the final version of the game being titled Beatmania III the final.

The love I never knew I needed

I would be remiss to say that if I personally never went to my local arcade and played HipHopMania for the first time, my life would be completely different. I think that can be said for a couple people here on the OTAQUEST staff. 

I have a very very very deep love for this game and no matter how many times I have legitimately tried to quit playing the game, I find myself keep coming back, no matter what. It’s like that midnight snack that you know you really should move on from, but it’s so tasty that you keep going back for more. So yeah, needless to say, I love the game. A lot. 

If you have the opportunity to play it at one of the many Round1 locations in the USA or you’re in a country where the game is released and just haven’t taken the time to play it, I would definitely recommend you to do so. I don’t think you’ll regret it.

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