DDRMAX2 (7th MIX) version 1.00 (3/14/03) Single/Technical FAQ (no Double or Freestyle here, sorry) Written by Peter Jung (contact me at pjung@alum.mit.edu) Thanks for contributions go to Stanley Hong and Dan "SPUI" Moraseski. Song listings taken from www.ddrfreak.com (mad props to that site). Oni courses listings and grading system taken from www.aaroninjapan.com (wow). Copyright 2003 Peter Jung DDRMAX2, all songs and associated titles are trademarks of Konami. This document may be not be reproduced under any circumstances except for personal, private use. It may not be placed on any web site or otherwise distributed publicly without advance written permission. Use of this guide on any other web site or as a part of any public display is strictly prohibited, and a violation of copyright. PREFACE I started playing DDR in December 2002, learning on a 7th mix machine at MIT. Around mid-January, I had become good enough to pass all the songs, but I noticed that there weren't any concise and comprehensive guides on the web (or maybe I just hadn't looked hard enough), so I decided to write one myself, just for all the aspiring players at MIT. As I was writing it, though, I found that I was actually helping myself because I was forced to systematize my techniques. I have periodically made revisions, with the help of others, since the first draft, but the bulk of it hasn't changed. As of this writing, I can pass all of the oni courses, save the Demon Roads, so I'd say I'm competent but far from expert. After getting suggestions froms friends to post this online, I have finally done so. If you have any suggestions for this FAQ, I might incorporate them into the next version, and you will get your name proudly displayed above. This guide may also be adapted to other DDR mixes, since everything should still be applicable, except for perhaps some cited examples. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- TABLE OF CONTENTS 0 DDR Etiquette 1 Rules of DDR 1.1 How to Play 1.2 Song Listings 1.3 Difficulty Meters 1.4 Mods 2 Physical Aspects 2.1 Footwork, Posture, and the Upper Body 2.2 Footwear 2.3 The Bar and Some Safety Issues 3 Beginner Tips 3.1 Timing 3.2 Arrow Types and Colors 3.3 General Rules for Footings 4 Intermediate Tips 4.1 Three-Steps 4.2 Gallops and Clusters 4.3 Triplets and Other Deviants 4.4 Tempo Changes 5 Advanced Tips 5.1 Repeated Notes 5.2 More Tricky Rhythms 5.3 Crossing Over and Pivots 5.4 Double Taps 5.5 Entering and Leaving Chords 6 General Tips Appendix A: List of Songs Appendix B: Oni Courses ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 0 DDR ETIQUETTE WAITING IN LINE A line for DDR, as for any other video game, is formed by placing one token at the bottom of the screen to reserve your place. To be considerate, wait until the end of the song before you put up a token, ESPECIALLY if a player is in Oni mode. Some people have all kinds of complicated systems regarding the order of the tokens, or on which side you put your token, or whether or not two people should put up one token or two, or whatever. There is no system to which everyone universally conforms, however, and if there were one, it probably wouldn't be worth explaining to everyone every time someone put a token up. Just keep track of whose tokens were there before yours, and try not to make a big deal about particularities. WATCHING, SHADOW-DANCING A great way to learn general systems or particular songs is to watch other people play. If they're good, pay attention to what they do with their bodies. Watch the song to practice your timings and rhythms, or to figure out tough passages in certain songs. Some people even go so far as to "shadow-dance" by playing along on the floor behind the stage. Of course, most people feel pretty stupid doing this, but look at it this way: you can either feel stupid now or later. I usually don't laugh out loud when I see a shadow-dancer. Another option, when someone is playing alone, is to ghost the patterns on the other pad alongside the player. Always get approval before doing this, and never do this with an Oni player. MAY I VERSUS? By far the best way to learn songs you're afraid of is to go with someone, especially if that person is good. No one's going to hurt you if you ask to go with them (at least I've never seen this happen), so just ask. Be gracious about offering the other person song choices. Make sure that one of you has a fleeting chance at passing (unless it's the last song). And always check with the other person before selecting a song, as they might want to adjust difficulty or speed mods. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1 RULES OF DDR 1.1 HOW TO PLAY GAMEPLAY The basic premise of the game is simple. Near the top of the screen is a row of outlined arrows, pointing left, down, up, and right. For each song, a preset pattern of colored arrows scrolls upward from the bottom of the screen. Just when an arrow matches inside the top row of outlines, you step on the corresponding pad. Sometimes you are required to hit two arrows simultaneously (chords, or jumps). Sometimes arrows leave a greenish-yellowish trail behind them (freeze arrows). For freeze arrows, you are required to hold down on the pad until the trail passes. You are NOT penalized for mis-steps, i.e., hitting unnecessary pads. You are given up to three songs per game. THE LIFE BAR At the very top of the screen is your life bar, which begins at about half-full. Depending on your accuracy, you may gain or lose life. If your life bar has completely drained, you have failed the song, and under normal circumstances, your game is over (so you might want to pick a hard song last). There are exceptions, however. In versus mode, only one player needs to be alive at a time for the game to continue. It is entirely possible to have player 1 die and later recover, and then have player 2 die, yet both players complete and clear the stage. Also, if your FIRST song is in LIGHT mode, no matter how you try, you cannot die (so if you are in light mode, pick a hard song first). GRADES AND SCORING As you are playing, you can see that each step is graded, depending on your accuracy. Given in decreasing order, the grades are: perfect (yellow), great (green), good (blue), boo (purple), and miss (red). You are also given an OK for each completed freeze arrow (and an N.G. for each freeze arrow lost). Perfects, greats, and OK's will add to your life meter, while boos, misses and N.G.'s will drain it. A string of perfects and/or greats results in a combo, and your current combo tally is also displayed on the screen. At the end of the song, you are given your totals of perfects, greats, goods, boos, misses, and OKs, as well as your max combo. You are also given a letter grade and a numerical score. Possible letter grades are AAA, AA, A, B, C, D, and E. The scoring system for letter grades is as follows: A perfect is worth 2 points, a great 1 point, a good 0 points, a boo -4 points, a miss -8 points, an OK 6 points, and an NG 0 points. Your total points from all the steps is then divided by the maximum possible number of points for the song (i.e., all perfects and OK's), and cutoffs are assigned: 100% AAA (light blue), 93% AA (green-yellow), 80% A (green), 65% B (purple-blue), 45% C (pink), below that D (red), and E (yellow) indicates that you lost all of your life sometime during the song. Note that your percentage grade in Oni mode uses a similar system (perfects and OK's are 2 points, greats are 1 point, all others are 0 points). The numerical scoring system is considerably more complicated, but if you really want to know how it works, look elsewhere. Just note that your maximum score for any song is 10,000,000 times the difficulty (number of feet). SELECT STYLE There are three modes of play, costing two tokens per side: Single: one player on one side (one credit) Double: one player on both sides (two credits) Versus: one player on each side (two credits) While I am impressed by people who can play double, I personally don't have the desire to invest in it, so I won't cover it here. One comment: if you are just learning to play double, it's best to alternate feet whenever possible, though doing so may feel awkward at first. SELECT DIFFICULTY There are four levels of difficulty to choose from: Light, Standard, Heavy, and Non-Stop Challenge. Light (aka Basic) is the easiest mode, suitable for beginners. Standard (aka Another or Trick) is a medium mode, good for intermediate players. Heavy (aka Maniac) is hard, suitable for advanced players. Selecting one of these difficulties at the beginning of the game doesn't really matter, since you may change it before each song. Note also that in versus mode, each player may choose different difficulty levels, except in...Non-Stop Challenge (aka Oni mode): a special mode where you are given four "lives" (your extra lives are indicated by the number of cells in the battery). Anything besides a "perfect" or "great" or an "OK" will result in the loss of one life. You may gain a number of lives back between songs (with very short breaks, if any). In versus Oni mode, if one person dies, that player's game is over, but the other player may continue. 1.2 SONG LISTINGS The songs, by default, are listed by groups (indicated by colors). Green songs are new in DDRMAX2. Blue songs were new in DDRMAX. Yellow songs are from older versions of DDR. Purple songs are unlocked songs. Red songs are possible bonus stages. Within each color group, they're ordered by increasing difficulty in light mode, and then alphabetically. Also given is the roulette option. Hit it once, and the wheel starts spinning, a la The Price is Right. Hit it again, and the wheel rolls to a stop. At this point, you can change difficulty and mods, but you cannot change the song. As far as I can tell, the probability of stopping at any one song is not quite uniformly distributed. Once you're good enough to handle five or six feet, I strongly recommend you use roulette to practice sightreading. To browse songs in a different order, press the yellow left and right buttons simultaneously. The second ordering is given alphabetically by song title. Press the buttons again, and you get the third ordering, given by speed (bpm, or beats per minute). The fourth ordering is just the top thirty most popularly picked songs on the machine. On each song, you are given a short audio sample, as well as the bpm and some difficulty gauges. 1.3 DIFFICULTY METERS The basic degree of difficulty is shown on your bottom corner of the screen. The song is given a rating between 1 and 10 "feet", indicated by the number of colored footprints. Yellow indicates that you are in light mode, purple indicates standard mode, and green indicates heavy mode. You can change your difficulty setting by tapping the down pad twice to make it harder, or by tapping the up pad twice to make it easier, or you can just use the mod screen, but there you won't get difficulty information. While I might not agree exactly with the difficulty ratings for a few songs, I would say they're about right, except for with Burning the Floor, which officially should have difficulties of 4 (light), 6 (standard), and 7 (heavy). You should learn around what "footage" your abilities allow and pick songs and difficulties accordingly. While you shouldn't shy away from a challenge and possible death, you should certainly stay within your means. You are also given a pentagon thingy that's supposed to indicate specific areas of difficulty. Each point of the pentagon shows the degree of difficulty in an area. AIR indicates the number of jumps, or chords. This is an athletic difficulty, so if you are tired, you may want to pick a song with little air. CHAOS indicates the general irregularity of steps, and you may use this as part of your decision to attack or avoid tricky rhythms. FREEZE indicates how many freeze arrows there are, so if you want to learn how to do freeze arrows, you may want to pick a song loaded with freeze. STREAM indicates the overall density of arrows (over time, not space). VOLTAGE indicates the peak density of arrows. 1.4 MODS To get to the mod screen, pick your song and hit the green button, holding it down. Here, you're given many options. Yellow buttons go left and right. To go down, hit the green button. To go back UP, hit the green button while holding a yellow button. Speed: x1, x1.5, x2, x3, x5, x8 These indicate if you would like the arrows to scroll faster, and thus more spaced out. Particularly helpful for certain songs with arrows bunched so close together they become indistinguishable. Purists might call using this cheap, but I don't think there's anything cheap about playing well. I used to use x1.5 for songs with speeds below 120 bpm, but I stopped using speed mods for the sake of oni mode. You should use whatever you're comfortable with. Boost: Off, On Turning Boost on will make the arrows, which will first appear to be quite slow, gain speed at an alarming rate. That is, the position of the arrows is nonlinear with respect to time. Appearance: Visible, Hidden, Sudden, Stealth Visible is the default. In Hidden mode, arrows disappear about halfway through the screen, before reaching the target row of arrows, requiring you to buffer steps. In Sudden mode, arrows do not appear until about halfway through the screen, thus requiring quick reflexes. In Stealth mode, arrows do not appear at all until you've already missed them. This basically requires memorization (or a trick outlined in the next paragraph). Turn: Off, Mirror, Left, Right, Shuffle Mirror shifts all the arrows 180 degrees around, Left shifts all the arrows 90 degrees to the left, and Right shifts everything 90 degrees to the right. Shuffle "randomly" changes the arrows (still leaving the rhythms intact), but there are only eight possible shuffles for each song. This is useful if you are stuck on a song that is too easy for you and you want to make things interesting. If both players choose shuffle, they get the same pattern (to make tournaments fair). One popular trick is to have a versus game, one player without mods, and the other in stealth and one of the turn options. The latter player looks at the former player's arrows and tries to infer his/her own pattern. Other: Off, Little, Flat, Solo, Dark Little eliminates all notes except quarter notes, i.e., arrows on the beat. This may be useful for freestylers or heavy wannabes. Flat makes all the arrows the same color, making rhythms more difficult to discern. Solo gives arrows a solid, unchanging color, with a different color for different types of notes (these are the arrow colors from DDR Solo 2000). This could make life easier if the colors weren't so obnoxious. Dark eliminates the top row of target arrows, requiring you to infer more from audio cues. Scroll: Standard, Reverse Standard is the default. In reverse, the arrows scroll from top to bottom. This can be somewhat disorienting. Freeze Arrow: Off, On You can turn your freeze arrows off. Freeze arrows can be especially difficult for lightweight players but are still possible. Just stay on your toes, keep your knees bent, and try to avoid shifting your weight. Step: Light, Standard, Heavy One last chance to change your difficulty. Most mods are designed to make play more difficult. However, I discourage the use of mods that distort the appearance of the arrows, since onlookers may desire an opportunity to peek at or learn the song without being in utter confusion. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2 PHYSICAL ASPECTS 2.1 FOOTWORK, POSTURE, AND THE UPPER BODY Generally, you want to maintain balance, mobility, nimbleness, and suppleness. The easiest way to do this is to keep your waist and knees slightly bent, and your arms loose. Try to hit the center of each pad with the meaty part of your foot, i.e., the ball and toes, but for Pete's sake, don't stomp. If you stand straight up, your knees will lock, and your weight will shift to your heels, drastically reducing mobility, and negatively affecting accuracy (both physically and in timing), and it may also cause you to lose some freeze arrows. The faster a passage is, the lower you'll want your center of mass to be. Keeping your arms loose will help you keep your balance, and it will also help you move your feet faster and turn your body faster, since your body is somewhat of a system of counterweights. To illustrate this, try running or doing the twist with your arms gnarled into your sides. 2.2 FOOTWEAR I recommend something light, flat and flexible, which fits snugly and has decent traction and cushion. Tennis shoes or running shoes are ideal, but you should be able to play in high-tops or ordinary shoes without significant impairment. Playing without shoes is not recommended for fast songs, since socks lack the protection and grip that shoes provide. For obvious reasons, try to avoid playing in things like heavy boots, high heels, or birkenstocks. 2.3 THE BAR AND SOME SAFETY ISSUES The big red bar is there so that you do not fall backward and crack your skull open. Holding onto the bar or leaning back against the bar while playing can engender some bad habits in beginners (such as unnecessary double-tapping or an inability to execute double crossovers or pivots), and it may also throw off your balance when you let go. Many expert players (and, I suppose, many mediocre players as well) do develop a technique that involves supporting their weight by holding onto the bar. This is for accuracy and stamina issues and is especially useful for, say, the Demon Road Oni course. Having to basically full combo ten extremely difficult songs certainly calls for bar hugging. There are risks that come with playing for an extended period of time. Keep yourself hydrated with water or sports drinks. A banana may come in handy for that refreshing high-potassium/low-sodium kick. As long as you're not reckless, the worst things you'll get are blisters and/or calluses on your feet, which are pretty much unavoidable. Just don't overdo it. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3 BEGINNER TIPS 3.1 TIMING The first and most important thing is for you to FEEL the beat. If you can't feel a beat, then this game probably isn't for you. All songs are in 4/4 time, although there are a few songs with irregular meters (for example, Holic has passages in 7/8, 7/4, and 4/4). Don't visually measure up when step arrows meet the target arrows, since this will result in inaccuracy and an inability to buffer. Instead, try to infer from the beat when you should hit the arrow pads. You can use the grades you're given on each step to fine-tune your timing. Usually, you can pick up the beat from the music. However, certain songs have short intervals where there is no music, or where the beat is ambiguous. In these cases, you can use visual cues. The row of target arrows pulsates on the beat throughout every song. In addition, the light fixtures on the machine flash with the rhythm during each song. 3.2 ARROW TYPES AND COLORS Arrows have different colors depending on their relation to the beat...quarter notes, eighth notes, sixteenth notes, and triplets. Here I am using a deranged definition of these terms, where a quarter note is any note on a quarter beat, an eighth note is any note on an eighth beat but not on a quarter beat, and a sixteenth note is any note on a sixteenth beat but not on an eighth beat. OK, that was a bad explanation, but hopefully you know what I mean. Quarter notes and eighth notes rotate between yellow and blue, which is somewhat annoying, but they are always opposite in color (note that Solo mode will keep arrows in a solid, unchanging color). This is extremely helpful for discerning when a syncopated (offbeat) passage begins, or for minorly tricky passages. For example, one passage in Candy (star) has notes on eighth notes (1 34 67 |12 45 7 ). As you advance, you may be able to pick up what colors the other types of notes have, but it isn't necessary to know exactly what they are, as long as you can tell that they are not quarters or eighths. 3.3 GENERAL RULES FOR FOOTINGS After you become acquainted with the geography of the pad, it is important to learn which feet to use when and where. Let's start by discussing two very common bad habits to avoid. Bad Habit #1: You stick one foot out to hit an arrow pad and immediately retreat to the center metal square. This constitutes unnecessary motion and will get you into trouble for anything complicated. As you are not penalized for unnecessary steps, I encourage you to leave your foot on a pad until you have to move it to another pad (you'll have to do this anyway for freeze arrows). In fact, you should NEVER step on the center metal square unless you are either stomping out the beat during rests or attempting to reposition yourself. Bad Habit #2: You use your left foot for the left pad and your right foot for all other pads (or the opposite). This pseudo-"Mexican" style will throw you off balance for certain chords and will also cause major problems for passages that are remotely fast. To remedy this problem, you may try experimenting with the opposite style, or you may just incorporate the recommendations I have made below. General Recommendations: For non-repeated arrows, always alternate feet, EXCEPT use your left foot for the left pad and your right foot for the right pad. For chords, use a footing that will keep your body facing the screen (note that for each of the six chords, there is only one way to do this, except for the down/up chord, for which either footing is acceptable and may depend on the context). This is certainly not a rule set in stone, and it will alter somewhat for advanced songs, but it will hold up for all Light and most Standard songs. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 4 INTERMEDIATE TIPS 4.1 THREE-STEPS The next harder thing you're likely to encounter after chords is an isolated set of three consecutive distinct eighth notes, or what I call a three-step. Most often, three-steps start on the beat. You'll probably want to use a footing that will place your left foot on the left pad and/or your right foot on the right pad, thus allowing you to face the screen. For example, for the sequence up-left-down, you'll want to start on your right foot, but for the sequence up-down-left, you'll want to start on your left foot. For a tricky sequence like right-down-left, either footing is acceptable, although most people would start with the right foot and end with the right foot on the left pad. You should learn to recognize three-steps and instantly know which footing to use, as this will help IMMENSELY. I cannot overstate the importance of this concept. Starting on the correct foot will make longer runs much easier, and you will be able to complete difficult songs with straightforward footings, such as Dead End and Paranoia KCET. Some songs, such as Trip Machine, have progressions of three-steps that will make using this system a bit difficult, requiring some awkward jumps from one three-step to another, for example right-down-left, then up-right-down. It's not too difficult to get the hang of it, though. When you become more advanced, you might devise your own system for complex situations, but this is really done on a case-by-case basis, and I'd say that using this system will work greatly to your benefit at least 90% of the time. 4.2 GALLOPS AND CLUSTERS Another common difficult element is an isolated set of two consecutive distinct sixteenth notes, which I call a gallop. Usually, a gallop ends on the beat, and thus begins with a pickup, although there are many examples of songs with gallops that begin on the beat (small portions of AM-3P, Can't Stop Fallin' in Love Speed Mix, Matsuri Japan, and Wild Rush), as well as gallops that neither begin nor end on the beat (i.e., DXY! and Luv to Me). You should be able to tell the difference by paying attention to the arrow colors (Which one is yellow/blue? That's the one on the beat.). Some songs, such as Cow Girl, Matsuri Japan, True Trance Sunrise Mix, and Tsugaru, have extended passages consisting of consecutive gallops, and these gallops often pivot around (you'll see what I mean). If you have difficulty moving your body to hit the pads in a continued gallop rhythm, I suggest that you try to keep your body/leg motion to a minimum and to retain the majority of your weight on the foot that hits the first note of the gallop. This may seem counterintuitive, as you are keeping your weight on the pickup and not on the beat, but it is a much easier and more natural motion. A group of three or more sixteenth notes that alternate between two arrows is what I call a cluster, or what is essentially a broken chord. These almost always begin or end on the beat (or both) and should be simple to execute as long as you pay attention to which arrow is first. Difficulty may arise when a cluster appears in a continuing rhythm (e.g., Fantasy by Melissa, Justify My Love, Secret Rendezvous, and Witch Doctor), or if there are several clusters in a row (e.g., Lovin' You, My Summer Love, Stay, and The Reflex). The important things to remember are to look for clusters and mentally group them, and to trust that the footings almost always work out well. 4.3 TRIPLETS AND OTHER DEVIANTS True triplets (a subdivision of the beat into three equal parts) are actually quite rare in DDR, and you're more likely to encounter them in the form of triplet quarter notes (and occasionally, triplet half notes). Of course, one exception is Burning Heat!, which is composed entirely of triplets. A rhythm that you're much more likely to encounter, especially in songs with a jazzy or latin flavor such as Trance de Janeiro, is a slightly uneven rhythm, with subdivided lengths 3,3,2 (in sixteenths), i.e., your notes will land on the subdivisions (1 4 7 9 12 15 ). So if you see notes that are awkwardly spaced, this rhythm is a good guess. Also, paying attention to the arrow colors should give you a clue that the oncoming rhythm does not consist of simple quarters and eighths. Not quite as common is the opposite rhythm 2,3,3. On the Jazz, incorporating rhythms of 3,3,2 and 2,3,3, as well as others, is an excellent exercise in rhythm determination using arrow colors. One side point of note is yes, there are thirty-second notes. They are extremely hard to detect because their arrows are the same color as quarter notes. So a thirty-second note into a quarter note looks very much like a chord. The only places I know they exist is in Tsugaru (hidden amongst sixteenth gallops) and Midnight Blue's AM-3P remix. 4.4 TEMPO CHANGES Many songs have tempo changes, and the range of tempi is given by the oscillating bpm meter on the song selection screen. Drastic tempo changes almost always occur in multiples, meaning a song will suddenly become exactly twice as slow or twice as fast. If you're playing on Heavy mode, you may be able to anticipate this by noticing that the upcoming notes are suddenly spaced much closer together or much further apart. Some examples are Era, Let's Groove, and Healing Vision. Some songs, such as Wild Rush, have gradual tempo changes, and you should be able to adjust by listening to the music or by using the visual cues. Some songs, however, come to a stop altogether right in the middle. If it's a gradual stop, then you should wait patiently and be ready to hit the next arrow in time. If it's a sudden stop, it may start just as quickly and as suddenly as it had stopped, perhaps after just one beat. These passages just really suck, and there is no way of seeing it coming. Sorry, but all you can do is curse at the machine and memorize the jolt. Examples of songs with single jolts are Healing Vision Angelic Mix and Sweet Sweet Love Magic. An especially annoying example is So Fabulous so Fierce, which has one passage with several jolts in a row. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 5 ADVANCED TIPS 5.1 REPEATED NOTES One thing a lot of people have trouble with is repeatedly hitting a pad quickly. Since there's no horizontal movement, most people's natural reaction is to tense up and focus really hard on hitting that pad as hard and as fast as they can. I can see this when a person's entire body is bobbing with the effort. The key to making this technique much easier is to loosen up, especially in your upper body, as tension there will only serve to slow you down. Keep all your weight on your planted foot, and just tap lightly and quickly with your other foot. It also helps immensely to keep your planted side's knee significantly bent. Why? For your tapping side. The more weight you have to move, the slower you'll be. So, don't bother moving your entire leg, or even your knee. Let your ankle and foot do all the work, and you'll find that you can tap much more quickly and with much less effort. Compare this to tapping your hand on a table, or playing spiccato on a string instrument. 5.2 MORE TRICKY RHYTHMS Most rhythmically difficult songs incorporate combinations of many of the techniques previously described, for example, a sequence of gallops that do not consistently begin or end on the beat (examples of this include Insertion, So Deep, and Twilight Zone). With practice, you will be able to recognize each element and buffer it into your memory as you execute the previous element. Fortunately, tricky rhythmic motifs also almost always mimic the rhythms you hear in the song, and on top of that, they are repeated often (sometimes ad nauseum, like in Drifting Away). If there is a passage in a song that you have tried several times, but you cannot for the life of you figure it out, you may look it up in a step chart, but this should only be used as a last resort, as many purists regard this as cheating. 5.3 CROSSING OVER AND PIVOTS Many songs have passages where it is greatly to your benefit if you end up using your left foot on the right pad and/or your right foot on the left pad. Note that this defies the general recommendations I made for beginners. These passages always require that one foot is used as a pivot on either the up or down arrow, and your body will rotate accordingly. For example, for right-down-left-down-right, you should start with your right foot and alternate from there, basically facing left. Note that this is not far removed from a much easier-looking passage, down-left-up-left-down. Sometimes you will cross over facing one way and then cross over facing the other way, for example right-down-left-down-right-up-left-up-right. You should learn to recognize these patterns and trust that your footwork will work out well. For fast crossover passages, I recommend that you swing your arms to help your body rotate. Easy examples include the opening of AM-3P and Sobakasu Freckles. One extreme but orderly example is Can't Stop Fallin' in Love Speed Mix. More chaotic examples are Afronova, Exotic Ethnic, and Paranoia Rebirth. In addition, in rare instances it may help to cross over for fast chord progressions, such as down/right-down/up-down/left-down/up-down/right (note that keeping your left foot on down is the chordal equivalent of a pivot). One example of this is in Drop Out. 5.4 DOUBLE TAPS Certain fast passages, if one were to use the alternating-foot method, would require you to turn around completely, or even worse, would leave you with your back to the screen. Obviously, this makes most people extremely uncomfortable, as it should, since it can throw off your visual focus, your bodily alignment, and your sense of balance. For example, take the passage left-up-right-down-left. Now, if this passage were isolated, you could start with your right foot and have everything work out fine. But if it's in the middle of a longer passage with footings that work out well, you'll either have to turn around or do something called double-tapping. This means using one foot to hit two consecutive distinct pads. Unless you either know the song really well or you're truly amazing, you'll probably want to double-tap. Is there a systematic way to double-tap? Yes. Remember that beginner's rule? Alternate feet, except use left for left and right for right. This is a good rule for two reasons. For one thing, you'll never have to triple-tap. For another thing, you'll never have to double-tap ACROSS arrows (i.e., up-down and left-right), which, because of the greater distance, takes significantly more time and energy. So for the passage in the previous paragraph, you would use the following footing: left-right-right-left-left. Two double-taps are equivalent to a complete rotation, and one double-tap is equivalent to a half-rotation. Double-tapping should only be used as a last resort because it can screw up your balance, and it gives less accurate timing. I believe that my default mode includes crossing over, but when things don't work out well, I resort to panic mode, double-tapping everything. Most of the best players choose to double-tap, never facing away from the screen. Some of the sickest Japanese players NEVER double-tap, preferring to rotate. Simple examples that invite double-tapping include Paranoia Dirty Mix and Break-Down (although you can bypass most of the double-taps in Break-Down by using counterintuitive footings and body positions). Extreme examples include Healing Vision Angelic Mix, or what I like to call The Mother of All Double-Taps (MAD-Taps). 5.5 ENTERING AND LEAVING CHORDS Some songs require you to go from a single note to a chord, or vice versa, very quickly, sometimes alternating erratically between single notes and chords. This may be perhaps the most difficult technique, since my advice doesn't feel very helpful. Going from a single note to a chord usually isn't so bad. If there is a common note, you might want to leave your foot from the single note and use it in the chord. It may also help to have your body's momentum rising a bit as you hit the single note and prepare to land on the chord. Going from a chord to a single note can be harder when there are no common notes. I highly recommend that you use the foot from the chord that is closest (diagonally adjacent) to the single note. If the single note is geographically behind the chord, you can use a slide-step (see the freestyling section), as that may feel more relaxed. Other than that, just buffer as much as you can. Easy examples include End of the Century and Groove. Harder examples include DXY! and the hellish Waka Laka. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 6 GENERAL TIPS This is my "how to get really good really fast" section, where I basically outline recommendations for your progression in ability. Being blessed with 20 years of experience playing music, after a week of getting used to the interface, I was at the 4-5 foot level. This should be easy to do if you have a decent sense of rhythm and you use the general recommendations for footings for beginners. If you don't have a decent sense of rhythm, or you are unfamiliar with the musical terms I use in this guide, perhaps you should take a basic course in music. This is a crucial point. Do learn three-steps, and have them down cold. You should be able to go from one three-step to any other, hopping if necessary. Do use roulette often. Do not play the same songs over and over again. You want to learn a general system, not individual songs (take the time you needed to learn one song, multiply by 116+). It is important that you avoid getting to know songs too well, so that you can develop your fundamentals. After two weeks of play, I was at the 6 foot level. At this point, you should be working on rhythms...3's and 2's, gallops and clusters. Do not approximate rhythms. Approximation should be a byproduct of bad sightreading. Instead, make a definite guess. If you guess, at least you'll know if you're right or wrong, and you can eventually figure out the rhythms by process of elimination. You should also be working on crossing over, and more importantly, knowing when you can cross over and when you should double-tap. After three weeks of play, I was at the 7-8 foot level. With more and more experience, you will be able to buffer more and more patterns, that is, you will be looking further and further down the screen as you play. There really isn't any trick to it...just decipher the rhythms and the steps should come naturally. When you are still learning to play, do not use steps charts. Do not use DDR simulators. Remember, fundamentals are most important. Save Max/MaxX until later. These are freak songs, and being able or unable to pass will not make you any better or worse a player. Besides, something is seriously wrong if you can pass MaxX Unlimited but you're still getting D's on So Deep. After six weeks, I was able to pass all songs up to 9 feet comfortably...with a B at the very least. Then and only then did I attack Max/MaxX. Max took two tries. MaxX took over a week, I think. Unfortunately, at this point, my progress in ability slowed considerably, simply because I knew the songs too well! Once you have the fundamentals down and you know songs pretty well, it may be OK to use step charts and simulators. Now you can begin working full-time on your accuracy. My body movement changed considerably once I started playing for accuracy. Progress for me is slow. Going from A's to AA's takes a while. There is a symbiotic relationship between normal play and oni mode, as oni mode is an excellent exercise in perfect attack. Once you're this good, you probably don't need my help. Good luck. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- APPENDIX A: LIST OF SONGS Single Double Song Artist B S H B S H .59 dj Taka 4 6 7 4 6 7 A Minute (Extended Mix) X-Treme 2 4 7 2 5 7 Absolute dj Taka 3 5 8 3 5 8 Abyss dj Taka 2 5 7 3 5 7 Afronova RevenG 5 7 9 6 7 9 AM-3P kTz 5 6 8 5 6 7 B4U Naoki 4 5 8 4 6 7 Baby Love Me Judy Crystal 3 5 8 3 5 8 BREAK DOWN! Be For U 4 6 9 4 6 9 Brilliant 2U Naoki 4 5 6 4 5 7 Brilliant 2U (Orchestra Groove) Naoki 5 6 7 4 5 7 Broken My Heart Naoki feat. Paula Terry 4 5 9 4 6 9 Burnin' the Floor Naoki 4 6 7 4 6 8 Burning Heat! (3 Option Mix) Mr. T feat. Motoaki F. 2 5 9 2 6 9 Can't Stop Fallin' in Love Naoki 3 5 8 3 4 8 Can't Stop Fallin' in Love (Speed Mix)Naoki 4 6 9 4 6 9 Candy (star) Luv unlimited 4 5 8 4 6 9 Candy (heart) Kosaka Riyu 3 5 7 3 5 7 Celebrate Nite N.M.R. 4 6 7 4 6 7 Cow Girl Bambee 3 5 8 3 4 7 D2R Naoki 3 5 7 3 5 7 Dead End N & S 5 7 9 6 7 8 Destiny Naoki feat. Paula Terry 2 5 7 2 6 8 Dive (more deep & deeper style) Be For U 3 5 7 2 5 6 Dive into the Night Kosaka Riyu 3 5 7 3 6 7 Do It Right Sota feat. Ebony Fay 4 5 7 4 5 8 Do You Remember Me Jenny 2 5 8 2 5 9 Drifting Away Lange feat. Skye 2 5 8 2 5 8 Drop Out NW260 5 7 9 5 7 9 Drop the Bomb Scotty D 4 5 6 4 5 6 DXY! TaQ 4 6 8 4 6 8 Dynamite Rave Naoki 5 7 9 5 6 8 Ecstasy d-complex 4 6 7 4 6 7 End of the Century No. 9 4 7 9 5 6 9 era (nostalmix) TaQ 3 6 8 4 6 8 ever snow Yoma Komatsu 2 5 8 2 6 8 exotic ethnic RevenG 4 5 9 4 6 9 Fantasy Melissa 3 5 9 1 6 9 Fantasy Lockout 2 5 6 2 5 7 Firefly Be For U 1 5 7 2 5 8 Groove Sho-T feat. Brenda 4 6 8 3 6 8 Groove 2001 Sho-T feat. Brenda 4 6 7 4 6 7 Healing Vision De-Sire 3 6 8 3 6 9 Healing Vision (Angelic Mix) 2MB 5 7 9 5 7 9 Higher NM feat. Sunny 3 5 6 3 5 7 Highs Off U (Scorccio XY Mix) 4 Reeel 1 5 7 2 5 8 Holic TaQ 4 6 8 4 6 8 Hysteria Naoki 190 4 6 8 3 5 7 i feel... Akira Yamaoka 3 6 9 2 5 9 I'm in the Mood for Dancing Sharon 3 5 8 3 4 7 INSERTiON Naoki underground 4 6 9 4 6 8 It's Raining Men (Almighty Mix) Geri Halliwell 2 5 7 2 5 7 Justify My Love Tess 2 5 9 3 4 7 Kakumei dj Taka with Naoki 4 6 9 3 5 9 La Senorita Captain T 4 6 7 4 6 9 Let the Beat Hit Em! Stone Bros. 3 5 6 3 5 6 (Classic R&B Style) Let's Groove Tips&Tricks vs Wisdome 2 5 6 3 4 7 Little Boy (Boy on Boy Mix) Captain Jack 3 6 8 3 6 9 Living in America John Desire 3 5 7 3 6 8 Long Train Runnin' Bus Stop 2 5 7 3 5 7 Look at Us (Daddy DJ Remix) Sarina Paris 2 6 7 2 5 7 Look to the Sky System S.F. feat. Anna 3 5 7 2 5 7 Love Again Tonight (For Melissa Mix) Naoki feat. Paula Terry 4 6 7 4 6 7 Lovin' You (Rob Searle Club Mix) Vinyl Baby 2 6 8 3 5 8 Luv To Me (AMD Mix) DJ Kazu feat. Tiger Yamato 4 7 8 5 6 8 Matsuri Japan RevenG 4 5 9 4 6 8 Max 300 (Omega) 6 8 10 6 8 10 Maximum Overdrive (KC Club Mix) 2 Unlimited 2 4 8 1 5 8 MaxX Unlimited Z 6 8 10 6 8 10 Midnite Blaze U1 Jewel Style 4 5 8 4 5 8 Miracle St. Jannaro 2 5 7 2 5 8 More Than I Needed to Know Scooth 3 5 7 2 5 7 My Summer Love Mitsu-O! with Geila 3 6 9 3 5 9 My Sweet Darlin' Wildside 3 4 8 4 5 8 Nori Nori Nori Judy Crystal 3 5 7 3 5 8 Nothing Gonna Stop (Dance Mania Mix) Micky 2 5 7 2 6 7 On the Jazz Jonny Dynamite! 2 5 7 3 5 7 Ordinary World Aurora feat. Naimee Coleman1 4 7 4 5 7 Orion .78 (AMeuro Mix) RevenG 3 5 9 3 5 7 Orion .78 (civilization mix) 2MB 6 8 9 6 8 9 PARANOiA 180 6 7 8 7 8 9 PARANOiA KCET (Clean Mix) 2MB 5 7 9 5 7 9 PARANOiA Evolution 200 6 7 8 5 7 9 PARANOiA Max (Dirty Mix) 190 6 8 8 7 8 9 PARANOiA Rebirth 190' 6 7 9 6 8 9 rain of sorrow NM feat. Ebony Fay 2 5 9 2 5 8 Sana Morette Ne Ente Togo Project feat. Sana 2 5 8 2 5 8 Secret Rendezvous Divas 2 5 7 2 5 7 Sexy Planet Crystal Aliens 5 6 7 4 5 7 Share My Love Julie Frost 3 5 7 3 4 5 Silent Hill Thomas Howard 2 6 7 4 5 7 So Deep (Perfect Sphere Remix) Silvertear 3 5 9 2 6 9 So Fabulous So Fierce (Freak Out) Thunderpuss feat. 3 5 7 3 6 8 Jocelyn Enriquez Sobakasu (Freckles) Tiggy 3 5 7 4 5 8 Somewhere Over the Rainbow Cosmic Gate 3 5 7 3 5 7 Spin the Disc good-cool 2 5 8 2 5 8 Stay Tess 2 5 9 2 5 9 Still in My Heart Naoki 4 6 7 4 5 7 Super Star DJ Rich feat. Tail Bros. 5 6 8 4 6 8 Sweet Sweet (heart) Magic jun 3 6 9 3 6 9 The Centre of the Heart Roxette 2 5 7 2 5 7 (Stonebridge Clubmix) The Reflex Duran Duran 2 5 8 2 5 7 The Whistle Song DJ Alligator Project 3 4 7 3 4 7 (Blow My Whistle Bitch) There You'll Be DJ Speedo feat. Angelica 3 6 8 2 6 8 Trance de Janeiro Bellini 2 4 8 2 6 9 (Samba de Janeiro 2002 Epic Vocal Remix) Trip Machine (luv mix) 2MB 6 7 8 7 8 9 Trip Machine Climax De-Sire 5 7 9 5 7 9 true ~radio edit~ Kosaka Riyu 2 5 7 3 5 7 true ~trance sunrise mix~ Kosaka Riyu 3 5 8 3 6 8 Tsugaru RevenG vs De-Sire 3 6 9 4 7 9 Twilight Zone (R-C Extended Club Mix) 2 Unlimited 3 5 9 3 5 8 Waka Laka Jenny Rom vs Zippers 3 6 8 3 5 8 Wild Rush Factor-X 4 5 6 4 6 8 Witch Doctor (Giant Toons Version) Cartoons 3 4 8 2 6 8 www.blonde girl (Momo Mix) Jenny Rom 1 4 7 2 4 7 Yozora No Muko Eurobeat Lovers 2 5 8 2 4 9 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- APPENDIX B: ONI COURSES Key to Format: Oni Course Name x. Song Name (Difficulty), Single feet/Double feet L=Light, S=Standard, H=Heavy, C=Challenge Kidou/Onimichi (Demon Road): Kidou 2/Onimichi 2 (Demon Road 2): 1. Drop Out (H), 9/9 1. Drop Out (C), 9/9 2. D2R (H), 7/7 2. Sexy Planet (C), 7/7 3. Waka Laka (H) 8/8 3. BREAK DOWN! (H), 9/9 4. PARANOiA 180 (H), 8/9 4. Tsugaru (C), 9/8 5. Trance De Janeiro (H), 8/9 5. Burning Heat! (H), 9/9 6. PARANOiA KCET (H), 9/9 6. Kakumei (H), 9/9 (Reverse/Dark!) 7. Stay (H), 9/9 8. Healing Vision (Angelic Mix) (H), 9/9 9. Tsugaru (H), 9/9 10. MaxX Unlimited (H), 10/10 Midnight Blue: Love RevenG: 1. AM-3P (C), 7/7 1. Matsuri Japan (C), 7/7 2. Ecstasy (C), 8/8 2. Afronova (C), 8/8 3. Sexy Planet (C), 7/7 3. Tsugaru (C), 9/8 4. Secret Rendezvous (H), 7/7 4. Orion .78 AM (H), 9/7 5. INSERTiON (H), 9/8 5. exotic ethnic (H), 9/9 BeForU: Happy Hardcore: 1. true (Trance Sunrise Mix) (S), 5/6 1. www.blonde girl (H), 7/7 2. Dive (S), 5/5 2. Still in my Heart (C), 8/8 3. Firefly (S), 5/5 3. Dynamite Rave (C), 7/8 4. ever snow (H), 8/8 4. Waka Laka (H), 8/8 5. BREAK DOWN! (H), 9/9 5. Sweet Sweet (heart) Magic (H), 9/9 6. Candy (heart) (H), 7/7 Naoki feat. Paula Terry: Tempo Changer: 1. Still in my Heart (C), 8/8 1. era (H), 8/8 2. Can't Stop Fallin' in Love (S), 5/4 2. INSERTiON (H), 9/8 3. Broken My Heart (S), 5/6 3. Somewhere Over the Rainbow (H), 7/7 4. Love Again Tonight (H), 7/7 4. Let's Groove (H), 6/7 5. Destiny (H), 7/8 5. More than I Needed to Know (H), 7/7 Soul 6: Cool 7: 1. Share My Love (S), 5/4 1. Justify My Love (S), 5/4 2. Do It Right (S), 5/5 2. Look to the Sky (S), 5/5 3. Secret Rendezvous (S), 5/5 3. Groove 2001 (S), 6/6 4. Let's Groove (H), 6/7 4. Holic (H), 8/8 5. Hysteria (C), 7/7 5. On The Jazz (H), 7/7 6. Groove (H), 8/8 6. rain of sorrow (H), 9/8 7. Drifting Away (H), 8/8 Pop 8: Fine Choice: 1. More Than I Needed to Know (S), 5/5 1. Nori Nori Nori (S), 5/5 2. Silent Hill (C), 7/7 2. My Summer Love (C), 7/7 3. Candy (star) (S), 5/6 3. Matsuri Japan (C), 7/7 4. Baby Love Me (S), 5/5 4. Witch Doctor (S), 4/6 5. Higher (C), 7/7 5. The Whistle Song (H), 7/7 6. Sobakasu Freckles (H), 7/8 7. Do You Remember Me (H), 8/9 8. My Sweet Darlin' (H), 8/8 From Solo: From IIDX: 1. Let the Beat Hit 'Em (H), 6/6 1. Absolute (S), 5/5 2. Superstar (C), 7/7 2. Holic (H), 8/8 3. Wild Rush (C), 7/1 3. Abyss (H), 7/7 4. Hysteria (C), 7/7 4. DXY! (H), 8/8 5. Can't Stop Fallin' in Love (H), 8/8 5. Burning Heat! (H), 9/9 Naoki Platinum: Naoki Standard: 1. Brilliant 2U (C), 7/7 1. Brilliant 2U (S), 5/5 2. Dynamite Rave (C), 7/8 2. Dynamite Rave (S), 7/6 3. Celebrate Nite (C), 8/8 3. Celebrate Nite (S), 6/6 4. B4U (C), 7/7 4. B4U (S), 5/6 5. Burnin' The Floor (C), 7/7 5. Burnin' The Floor (H), 7/8 6. D2R (H), 7/7 6. D2R (H), 7/7 Nearly 130: Paranoia Brothers: 1. Long Train Runnin' (S), 5/5 1. PARANOiA (H), 8/9 2. So Fabulous, So Fierce (S), 5/6 2. PARANOiA Max (H), 8/9 3. Look at Us (S), 6/5 3. PARANOiA KCET (H), 9/9 4. Higher (C), 7/7 4. PARANOiA Evolution (H), 8/9 5. A Minute (S), 4/5 5. PARANOiA Rebirth (H), 9/9