One of the defining games of arcades around the world didn’t arrive until the tail end of the 20th century, but it has still managed to make a massive impact in gaming at large. Debuting in Japan in 1998, Dance Dance Revolution pioneered the rhythm genre at large and proved to be an international smash hit both in arcades and at home.
The game was developed by Konami and is a part of their Bemani division (which also includes games such as Beatmania, Pop’n Music, GuitarFreaks, DrumMania, and many more). The gameplay is fairly straightforward: players stand on the controls, which consist of four directional arrows, and must step on the arrows in time with the music and with the specific step pattern that displays on the screen. Players are given a judgement on every step regarding their accuracy, which helps to fill the Dance Gauge; if they miss, the Dance Gauge goes down, and if it goes down completely, the players fail the song (ending the song).
Dance Dance Revolution arcade machines have always been quite elaborate setups, featuring both the actual game cabinet as well as the dance platform. The platform itself is a large metal piece divided into two sides (as two players can engage in a “versus” mode, or one player can use both sides in “double” mode). The platforms also feature a padded bar at the back of them, allowing for players to hold on for balance assistance during gameplay. Home versions of the game have been released across numerous platforms, and home editions of the dance platform have been released as both soft plastic pads as well as more elaborate (and more expensive) metal pads for the more hardcore fan.
The success of DDR led to a number of other companies developing similar games, with the most successful being Pump it Up and In the Groove. DDR today still maintains a massive fanbase worldwide, and the most recent title in the series, Dance Dance Revolution A, arrived in 2016. The game’s popularity among school-aged kids even led to the state of West Virginia incorporating it into its school system’s fitness program in 2006.