In the fall of 1998 a game that completely changed the platform of how arcade games were played was released. Following on the success of “beatmania” which was released a year prior, KONAMI released the “dancing” game, Dance Dance Revolution to Japanese arcades.
The gameplay was unique for the time as players were required to be on a “dance stage” with buttons laid out in a cross pattern of up, down, left, and right. Arrows would scroll from the bottom of the screen to an outline of said arrows where players are required to step on the proper arrow indicated in time with the music.
The game was met with critical acclaim and players by the hundreds were lining up at their local arcades to play Dance Dance Revolution.
Let’s take a quick look at the history of Dance Dance Revolution and see how it came to where it is today.
DJ Bring That Beat Back – The history of DDR Arcade
In proper KONAMI fashion and proper music game fashion, there have been many iterations of DDR which have been released to the arcade. In this article, we will touch on the arcade releases, because frankly, there are far too many home releases and spin offs that make sense in the mainline of games. We will certainly touch on them, but I want to focus on the main lineage of DDR rather than games which were released as a one-off.
Dance Dance Revolution – Released in Japan on September 26th 1998
Dance Dance Revolution 2nd Mix – Released in Japan on January 29th 1999
Dance Dance Revolution 2nd Mix Link Version – Released on April 28th 1999
This version came with a PlayStation memory card reader installed which supports link data from the home version of Dance Dance Revolution allowing players to save scores and custom edits to step charts. The link feature was maintained up until DDR EXTREME but required players to have each version of the game for home for the new link data.
Dance Dance Revolution 3rd Mix – Released on October 30th 1999
Which included a total of 72 songs, 35 which were new to 3rd Mix. DDR 3rd mix was also the basis for the international versions of the European Dancing Stage EuroMix and the North American Dance Dance Revolution USA.
Dance Dance Revolution 3rd Mix Plus – Released on June 21st 2000
This title was exclusive to Japan and included 17 new songs: three songs from the DanceMania series of compilation albums, seven k-pop tracks from the Korean version of 3rd Mix, and seven Konami original tracks.
Dance Dance Revolution 4th Mix – Released on August 24th 2000
DDR4th mix added an additional 49 songs to the song list making it a total of 136 songs.
Dance Dance Revolution 4th Mix Plus – Released on December 28th 2000, this version added 14 new songs, bringing the total up to 150 songs. This version also included an “All Music Mode” allowing users to choose from the full song list from the beginning.
Dance Dance Revolution 5th Mix – Released on March 27th 2001
DDR 5th Mix was the first version of the game to run natively at 60 frames per second. This was also the first DDR game to feature long version songs.
DDRMAX – Released on October 19th 2001
DDRMAX marked the beginning of a new era for DDR. Not only were all previous songs from older versions removed completely, there were new charge notes added where players had to keep their foot on an arrow until a specified time.
They also changed the difficulty naming from BASIC, TRICK, and MANIAC to LIGHT, STANDARD, and HEAVY. This is also the first version of DDR to include the EXTRA STAGE mechanic where if players fulfilled a certain ranking on the EXTRA STAGE (MAX300 in this version), they were treated to the ONE MORE EXTRA STAGE, “Candy⭐️”.
DDRMAX2 – Released on March 27th 2002
Many of the songs which were removed in DDRMAX were put back into the game with the exception of some of the DanceMania licensed tracks. Furthermore, they have brought back the foot rankings to the difficulty scale ranging from 1 to 10. DDRMAX2 added a total of 53 songs which made the total song count for the game be at 135 songs.
Dance Dance Revolution EXTREME – Released on December 25th 2002
With 69 new songs, this brought the total song count to 240 songs with included revivals. This is also the first DDR game to include crossover songs from other BEMANI title games such as Pop’n Music, Beatmania IIDX, Mambo A Go Go, and Para Para Paradise.
Dance Dance Revolution SuperNOVA – Released in Japan on April 28th 2006
After a 4 year hiatus which left fans wondering if DDR was done or if Konami was going to keep the series going, DDR SuperNOVA was released on April 28th 2006 in Japan.
This is also the first version of DDR to be released outside of Japan officially since Dancing Stage EuroMix and Dance Dance Revolution USA MIX and the first DDR title to be considered a true worldwide release. The USA release happened on May 15th 2006 with the European release happening shortly after on July 12th 2006.
DDR SuperNOVA was the first game in the series to support Konami’s e-amusement service for saving scores and other online functionalities. However, it was limited to Japanese cabinets in Japan only.
DDR SuperNOVA contained a total of 120 new songs which brought the total to 304 songs if you include the limited time license track “Beautiful Life”.
Dance Dance Revolution SuperNOVA 2 – Released in Japan on August 22nd 2007
This title’s release was also plagued by some speculation as there was originally a Dancing Stage SuperNOVA 2 planned for release however due to Sony’s restrictions on exporting the original PS2 into European territories, the title ended up being cancelled.
The US version of SuperNOVA 2 was released on January 17th 2008. SuperNOVA 2 was also supposed to be the debut of the e-AMUSEMENT service for North American territories, however this was only available during the location test of the game at Brunswick Zone in Naperville, IL.
Dance Dance Revolution X – Released in Japan on December 24th 2008
DDRX marked the 2nd release which was considered a worldwide release with the European territories being reinstated due to the game switching from a PS2 hardware to Konami’s BEMANI PC hardware.
And for the first time, the name for European territories was no longer Dancing Stage. The name changed to be the same across all territories as Dance Dance Revolution. It was released in Europe a week prior to the United States on June 3rd 2009, with the US following on June 9th 2009.
The next major overhaul to the DDR series was a new difficulty system being adopted changing the difficulty ratings from 1-10 to 1-20. Once again, e-AMUSEMENT service was advertised for being available in the US, however this failed to take fruition.
Dance Dance Revolution X2 – Released in Japan on July 7th 2010, USA on December 31st 2010, and Europe on May 13th 2011
This is also the first DDR title to support Konami’s PASELI digital currency payment system. This again was only limited to Japan. This release also had songs which were exclusive to the China territory. The total new song count for the game was 83 bringing the total song count to 442 excluding the exclusive Chinese tracks.
Dance Dance Revolution X3 vs 2nd MIX- Released on November 16th 2011
This is the first DDR that was done as a 2 part release with new cabinets getting the game earlier than upgrade kits.
The new cabinets were released on November 16th 2011 while the upgrade kits were released later on November 30th 2011. This marks the first game to have a modernized version of an older title as a playable game mode.
By inputting a code at the title screen, users could play a full version of DDR 2nd MIX with all songs with the exception of STRICTLY BUSINESS and STEP BATTLE. It also is the first version in the X series which did not get a worldwide release, it was released exclusively in Japan. This version had a total of 83 new songs bringing the total song count to 523.
Dance Dance Revolution – Released on March 14th 2013
On March 14th 2013, the new cabinets for DDR were released with the new title followed by upgrade kits being released on March 20th 2013 in Singapore, March 21st 2013 in Japan and other Asian territories and February 7th 2014 in Korea.
Since they opted to use the name Dance Dance Revolution only, this is the first DDR version in arcade to not have a numerical title or additional title. Players refer to this game as DDR2013 to avoid confusion.
This version brought a total of 102 new songs, making the total number of playable songs 606. Rather than making a whole new entry for release, I will put this here, there was a major update to Dance Dance Revolution pushed out over the e-AMUSEMENT network on May 12th2014 in Japan and July 22nd 2014 in Korea and other Asian territories which updated the game to what players now call DDR2014.
This was the first DDR game to be updated entirely over the e-AMUSEMENT network with major updates adding 94 new songs and bringing the total of playable songs to 678.
Dance Dance Revolution A – Released on March 30th 2016
First announced at the 5th Konami Arcade Championship in January 2016, on March 30th 2016, Konami released DDR A to Japan arcades via the e-AMUSEMENT network. They attached the slogan to the game as “The Rise of a New Era” indicating that the game is now in a completely new plane.
This also reinstated the worldwide release that stopped with DDR X3 vs 2nd MIX as North America received the game on July 6th 2016, Korea on April 4th 2016, and Europe on December 15th 2017, marking the first time in history that North America officially had access to the e-AMUSEMENT service.
Albeit with some compromises such as the lack of PASELI. The total number of new songs varied based on territories due to licensing restrictions with North America and Europe getting a total of 118 new songs while Asia and Japan got 142 new songs. Bringing the total to 805 songs in Asia compared to 773 in North America and Europe.
Dance Dance Revolution A20 – Released on March 20th 2019
At the 8th Konami Arcade Championship in January 2019, Konami announced Dance Dance Revolution A20. A 20th anniversary for the game which meant that there was something special in the works. This was precisely right as Konami announced a special gold version of a new cabinet titled the “20th anniversary model” based on the Dance Rush cabinet.
Arcades that purchased the new cabinet had a perk for buying the new cabinet as the game was exclusive to the gold version of the cabinets for a short while. The new cabinets hit the streets of Japan on March 20th 2019 with updates not coming out until July 24th 2019.
Asian territories got the game on July 24th 2019, Korea on August 1st 2019, USA on September 24th 2019, and European territories have still yet to get the game, however it has undergone location testing however with the lack of the e-AMUSEMENT support due to European Union regulations.
Aside from the mainline games which we outlined above, there have been multiple spin-offs for the game such as the SOLO series of the game which featured only one dance pad with 2 additional diagonal arrows on the top left and top right of the panel. There were 2 versions of this released as SOLO 2000 and SOLO BASS MIX. There was a special version of DDR 4th Mix and DDR 4th Mix Plus released which also incorporated the SOLO charts exclusively for SOLO machines.
DDR as a game has also had a plethora of home releases as well spanning ALL console platforms from PS1 to PS2 to Dreamcast, PS3, and the Wii exclusive Mario Mix of the game, featuring Mario music and Mario characters in the game.
ONE MORE EXTRA STAGE, from Arcade, Home, Online, to Mobile?
If there is one thing that DDR can do, is make people more fit.
In fact, the fact that fitness was made fun with this game is one of the driving factors that made it the immense hit that it has become. When the game first came out on PlayStation, players were able to purchase a mat that was made out of plastic and some connections inside the pad which allowed players to play the game as if they were in the arcade, at home.
The controller would plug into the PlayStation controller port as any other controller would and would turn the player’s living room or bedroom into a DDR machine, effectively. Needless to say, these pads weren’t the best in the world and they tended to have many issues with bunching up or inputs not being recognized.
This prompted many third party companies such as Cobalt Flux and RedOctane to start making their own dance pads which were much higher quality. Shortly after this, Konami released their own premium pad which would set a player back a cool $500, but it was the closest that you could get to playing in the arcade at the time.
Fast forward twenty years and DDR is still going strong, if not stronger than it ever has been and Konami makes the announcement that they are going to be releasing something called Dance Dance Revolution Ultimate Mobile.
A mobile port of their Dance Dance Revolution A game for iOS and Android devices which connect to a dance pad via USB or Bluetooth. This is going to give the game an amount of access that has never been seen before and it will be interesting to see just how much more the game will take off once Ultimate Mobile launches.
DDR truly has made a legacy for itself and the player base where it dwindled at one point is now alive and well with the game now getting frequent worldwide releases.
America has crowned a champion twice at the 7th and 9th Konami Arcade Championship with Chris Chike from the San Francisco Bay Area in California and players just keep getting better and better.
It’s clear based on how many releases this legendary title has received that Konami struck gold (hue hue) with DDR and shows no sign of slowing down.
If you haven’t had the courage or the time to play DDR, I recommend you do. It’s not only a blast to play, it’s great exercise as well.