Friday, May 7, 2010

Dance Dance Revolution: A Personal Retrospective

My first encounter with DDR came in 1998 when I was still managing the local video arcade in my hometown of Charleston, WV. That year, I went to my first ever anime convention in Charlotte, NC. That convention was one of the happiest times of my life for many different reasons such as anime, good friends, and girls (being a card carrying nerd and yet still able to successfully mack on decent looking chicks was a HUGE ego boost.) While at this convention, I happened upon a PSX version of Dance Dance Revolution 2nd mix (I think) being showcased in the dealer's room. I got on it and played one song that afternoon because there was a rather long line, but whenever I passed by that booth, it was a foregone conclusion that I would be playing.

After talking with the dealer that brought it, I learned that it was an Arcade game originally. That begun a 2 year quest of nagging my District Manager weekly to get one for my store. For 2 years, they told us no because our store did not make enough money to warrant the expense (and yet, they wouldn't want to give us a revenue generating machine.) I bought the OG US Playstation version which was ass because of 1) song selection was crap 2) US stores were not selling dance mats regularly and 3) should by some act of God you found one, it was usually a huge pile of shit. So after I left the store, about a year later that store got a DDR 3rdMix Korean Version. At the time I think this was the only DDR machine in the state, but others came soon after.

So now we are up to 2001 and the DDR 3rdMix Korean was a regular fix at my arcade. I became a fixture with all the other hardcore DDR players and played it almost daily for about 3 months before The Foot Incident happened....

I had lost my other job, car, Drivers license and almost freedom over some stupid bullshit, so DDR was very helpful in getting me through that rough patch of my life. I had gotten another job at the local Chuck E. Cheese (so much for getting out of the rough patch huh.) The arcade was on the way to work so I would stop in, play a few games, then off to work. Well one day while trying to complete Paranoia on medium, I landed wrong on my left foot and I thought I just twisted it so I sat it out for about 10 minutes before walking the 2 miles to work like I had done everyday prior. As the night went on, my foot started to hurt more and more and more. I started to think that maybe I had broken it.

My manager had noticed my pain later that night and thought that I may had hurt my foot at work. He took me to Doctor's Care where they gave me the news; Broken in 2 places. I got placed in an air boot for 8 weeks. Now, I realize that It was unfair of me to lie to get workman's comp from my job to pay for my bills, but at that time I was a different person and honestly, I did not give a fuck. So during that time I stayed home and played Devil May Cry and FFX. But what I wanted to do was play DDR.

When the cast came off and I was able to, I jumped back into life and DDR with a vengeance. During this period I had moved out of my parent's house and in with my grandmother (more drama than I care to get into). The arcade also upgraded their machine to DDRMax 2 (aka DDR 7thMix aka BEST DDR EVER.) I started playing again slowly, but eventually, I moved back up to where I was prior to the Incident. One afternoon, I was playing and the guy I was playing with thought that we should move up to a song on heavy difficulty. I fugured what the hell, I'll just pick one of my favorite songs they can't be to hard. Wrong answer. I was able to complete SuperStar on heavy and I can say I felt like king of the damn world. This was also around the time I started to play in more tournaments for the game as well.

I started to play heavier and heavier songs all the way through, but at this point I also started to gain a side benefit. I was playing one day and an old friend spotted me. She told me that she could not remember me looking this skinny. I had never thought abvout it until I went home that night and weighed myself and the difference between what was on my ID card and my actual weight was 55 lbs. I had danced off a whole TV set. That must have been what Oprah felt like cause I felt pretty good.

Another benefit to playing DDR was I felt WAY more confident talking to members of the opposite sex. To be fair, the machine was at the entrance to the mall in a video arcade and you always had to be on the lookout for jailbait. But still my game went from damn near extinct to somewhat useable. This was also the time period where I started dating the woman who would eventually become my wife so that is another great memory I can attribute to DDR. She would come to the mall sometimes and watch me play. I started fronting with spins and jumps to try and impress her. I even got her into playing it with me and Ari liked it so much she was even sad when news broke that Captain Jack did (R.I.P.)

I also kept up with the home releases during this time. I bought Konamix for the Playstation and DDRMax and DDRMax2 for my PS2. I even had my PS2 modded so I could play the Japanese release of DDRExtreme. This was around the time that the US versions really started to suck because they started to take songs out so they could add more crap that the peons could understand. I don't want any Black Eyed Peas (who I actually like) or Jennifer Lopez (which I can't stand) infesting my DDR. They can go to straight to Hell with that noise.

My Favorite Dance Dance Revolution songs are

Paranoia: Rebirth
Dream a Dream
Put your Faith in Me
Blow my Whistle
.... and Others I can't remember

My Favorite Mixes/Games are

DDR Max2
DDR 5thMix
Dance Dance Revolution Konamix (US Playstaion release/mashup of 4th and 5th mix. Still Awesome)
DDR Extreme

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