Step 1: Familiarize Yourself With the Equipment
A Dance Dance Revolution arcade machine
Money or tokens (most arcades will charge around $0.75-1.00 for one player to play three songs)
Water to avoid dehydration if attempting prolonged play
*Note: This instruction will focus on an arcade setting, but to play at home would require a television, a game console, as well as a DDR game and control pad that are formatted for the console.
DDR involves many quick movements and jumps that may be characterized as high intensity aerobic exercises. If a player begins to feel lightheaded at any time during play, they should immediately stop and rest. Players may also be prone to slipping or falling during play and should take care to avoid these outcomes. Shoes with good grip are recommended.
Step 2: Get Started Using the Machine
The arcade game consists of many parts that are used to interact with the game. These parts are all labeled and described within the pictures above. The first picture describes the arcade set up as a whole, and the next two pictures that follow are closer shots of the control pad and the console buttons. Overall the parts that a player should become familiar with are:
Control Pad (Up, Down, Left, and Right arrows)
Console Buttons (Left directional, Right directional, and Menu selection)
Handle Bar (if provided at arcade)
Start a game on the arcade machine
1. Enter the appropriate amount of tokens or money required by the arcade to start a game.
2. Press the menu selection button to open the Style Selection screen.
3. Choose between three modes of play:
Single Mode: One player plays songs on one control pad.
Versus Mode: Two players play songs each on their own control pad.
Double Mode: One player plays songs by crossing between two adjacent control pads.
*Note: Double mode is not meant to be used by beginners and can be slightly more dangerous because of the increased movement required. Also, if a second player would like to join they may enter their tokens or money and press the menu selection button on their side at any time up to this point.
Step 3: Select a Song for the First Stage
A. Use the left and right console selection buttons to shuffle available songs through the cursor on the center of the list.
B. Push the left console selection button to move the song above onto the cursor. Push the left console selection button to move the song below onto the cursor.
C. Step twice quickly on the up arrow to move the difficulty level up one in position. For example, in the picture below this would change the level from "Difficult" to "Basic." Step twice quickly on the down arrow to move in the opposite direction.
D. Choose to play a song by either pushing the menu selection button when it is on the cursor, or by waiting for time to run out. The timer is not located in the picture below, but is usually located in the top right corner of the screen. Players are given around 80 seconds to choose a song.
*Note: Paying for one game for a player is equivalent to paying for three songs or three "stages." Each player will be scored after each stage, and will receive a final score after the last stage.
Choose a song based on your current skill level and preferences
A. Choose a song that is an appropriate level for your familiarity with the game.
"Beginner" setting is for players that are new to DDR.
"Basic" setting is for players who are somewhat familiar and skilled with DDR.
"Difficult" setting is for players who are rather familiar and skilled with DDR.
"Expert" setting is for players who are extremely familiar and skilled with DDR.
"Challenge" setting is available for only certain songs and provides an extra challenge for players who have mastered the expert setting of the song.
B. Choose a song that is an appropriate speed for your familiarity with the game.
Compare both the speed gauge (located next to the current stage) and the gauge of the number of steps (located next to the difficulty levels) to your level of familiarity with the game. On songs that have very high arrow speeds or that have very large numbers of steps, it may be necessary to switch to an easier level of difficulty.
C. Choose a song that has desired characteristics.
"Air" refers to the amount of jumping necessary for the song
"Voltage" refers generally to the speed of the song
"Stream" refers to the amount of streams, or sets of steps that are right after one another, in the song.
"Chaos" refers to the amount of steps that do not match well with the beat of the song.
"Freeze" refers to the amount of steps that must be held longer than ordinary steps (this will be explained further in the next step).
Step 4: Play the First Stage
Gain points by timing steps with the music
The basic goal of the game is to gain points by pressing the arrow buttons on the control pad at the same time that the scrolling arrows line up with the arrow shadows at the top of the screen.
A. View the first picture above to see an example of how to gain points off of basic steps. Step on the arrows of the control pad at the same time as their corresponding scrolling arrows reach the arrow shadows.
B. Jump and land on two buttons (as in the second picture) when two arrows reach the arrow shadows at the same time.
C. Step and leave your foot on the button (as in the third picture) when "freeze" arrows with green trails following them reach the arrow shadows. Leave your foot on the button until after the end of the trail has reached the arrow shadows.
D. View the fourth picture to see an example of how the screen may look during the middle of a song, as well as an explanation for how to identify off-beat arrows. Almost all arrows will occur at a point that goes along with the music, so listen to the song and step with the rhythm.
E. Match the arrows perfectly to gain the most points per round. Gain enough points to keep the bar at the top of the screen from becoming empty, otherwise the song will end and the stage will be "failed" gaining no points.
Step 5: Practice to Improve Your Skills
The picture above depicts the results screen that immediately follows the completion of a song. Aim for high letter grades on songs by gaining high scores and landing as many steps as possible. Available letter scores are as follows: AAA, AA, A, B, C, D, and finally E. It is not possible to receive a AA or AAA score without landing the maximum possible combo (see the star in the picture above for more information.
Aim for step ratings that are worth more points. The step ratings are described below.
"Perfect" The step lined up with the arrow shadow as well as possible.
"Great" The step lined up with the arrow shadow pretty well.
"Good" The step lined up with the arrow shadow fairly well.
"Boo" The step barely lined up with the arrow shadow at all.
"Miss" The step was not lined up with the arrow shadow at all.
"OK" A freeze arrow was held completely (otherwise it counts as a "Miss").
Raise the difficulty setting after a song has been mastered
To truly improve at the game, raise the difficulty setting once you are very confidant that you can easily perform the song at a current level. A good rule of thumb is that you should move up the difficulty if you can routinely receive an A or an AA letter score on a particular song, or if you can often land the maximum combo at the current level.
A common struggle that most beginners go through is that they feel constrained to return the the central square. This forces many players to actually move more than necessary and pick up a sort of jump-and-skip rhythm than can make them miss the actual buttons. Leaving your foot on a button after stepping on it to line up with an arrow shadow has no negative consequences to your score. In fact it is more effective (and common among more experienced players) to not return to the central square after the beginning of a song. This tip is perfectly illustrated in the video below. The second dancer is playing the song on a higher level, but still gaining many more points than the first dancer who is constrained to the central square. This will also give you a good idea of how well the music will line up with the steps.
You are now much more prepared than most newcomers to play Dance Dance Revolution. You now know the ins and outs of the game, as well as the techniques necessary to move past a novice level. While it will still take a lot of practice to become great at Dance Dance Revolution, you will certainly look more knowledgeable than anyone else who has not played before. So go out, dance, and have a great time!