Dance Dance Revolution hit American arcades in 1999 and became an instant obsession for tens of thousands of fans. The melding of music and physical arcade interactivity was an total draw for many who needed that level of activity from their video game times. Many games later on, like Rock Band and Guitar Hero (and DJ Hero?), tried to replicate that initial excitement with innovative IPs and a larger variety of content, but they were never able to replicate the difficulty of DDR.
Guitar Hero’s “Through The Fire And Flames” on Expert will live on in infamy as one of the most difficult sequences in a video game, though it doesn’t compare in the slightest to something like this…
Japanese rhythm games have only continued to grow in complexity, numbers, and difficulty in the years since the original DDR. And while concepts like DJ Hero served to try and invigorate new life into the franchises in the US, the goal was focused more on “fun” rather than creative gameplay or difficulty. It seems that in Japan, the focus is heavily on “how can we make this as crazy and hard as possible.”
Entire game centers in Japan are devoted to these rhythm and dance games, as opposed to many arcades in the US which feature a variety of game installations. Gaming culture in Japan is notably more intense and immersive than it is in the US, as well, so it’s no surprise that it would have dedicated sections for specific genres.
Games like DDR served as inspiration for artists like Porter Robinson, who spent hours and hours playing and listening, often serving as their first introduction to electronically produced music. With all of the innovative play styles and catchy music coming out exclusively for these new games, it would be awesome to see who they inspire next.