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I've been playing Dance Dance Revolution for a very long time... started back in 1999 when visiting NYC for some rounds of KOF and other fighters. It took hold on me.

So after competing in tournaments, organizing events, and playing at least 2 hours a week, EVERY week, here I am. Nearly 30 and still hunting down arcades across the mid-atlantic region for a good machine.

So this blog will be about In The Groove R21. This revision of the game allows for custom songs/steps and is really what's keeping me playing this game.

-rob (dj_xero)
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So my first post was a just a quick shout-out to my favorite step-files of the week. (I'll have more of those later this week... with links to the files this time) I have to admit, I was very close to making this a "serious" blog about gaming and shit that I'm interested in. Sucks to that, I'm interested in ITG, PIU and all things rhythm-game-related.

Let me start with explaining the history of step-patterns, particularly in the 4-arrow world. When Dance Dance Revolution made itself known back in 98 and 99, Expert mode (or Maniac mode) was non-existent and even had to be unlocked in later versions. (3rd mix). Because of the low level of the game, steps had to be accessible to most players. This meant that the steps generally had no rhyme-or-reason to them, they were just there. But Maniac mode brought us a few things we need to remember. (Know your god-damned roots)

Jacks - The process of stomping one arrow repeatedly. (ex. Paranoia 180) This pattern really worked some muscles most DDR weren't used to using, and becomes a hurdle a player must pass.

Butterfly Spin - Named after the wonderful and nauseating Smile.dk song "Butterfly", this song had the d-r-u-l pattern that players generally would spin to.

Cross-overs - This is what I'm really writing about. This is what you saw in charts like boom-boom-dollar, and nearly every other DDR chart... L-D-R-D-L-D-R-D and variations on that theme.

The idea is this: If the player is alternating feet with every step, then forcing them into left or right directions (rather than straight ahead) would make the chart more interesting. This became even more used into later versions Extreme: Exotic Ethnic went insane with them, and players just either had to get used to it, or learned to "double-step". Double-stepping is the technique of using the same foot to hit multiple arrows in sequence. Similar to a jack in using the same foot, but for multiple arrows.

Okay, so these are our roots. Stepmania, In The Groove and all the wonderful R21 charts out there have taken this idea into extremes with there use in 16th note and 24th note streams. ITG has even gotten more players back into spins with its use of hold (or freeze) arrows.

So Extreme was released about 8 years ago now? Most of my generation has gotten older and stopped playing these types of games. There is a new, younger generation that have taken the torch with custom R21 charts in ITG.

So now we have something else going on, a new generation of players who have not played most of the DDR charts, making their own insanely difficult charts to their own favorite songs. This is excellent news to me who got bored of DDR and Pump It Up. But there is a popular theme to new step-charts:

No Cross-overs. Period.

Increased difficulty, speed, and quality of machines have forced players to push themselves for perfection. If you're going to make a chart with over 1000 steps in it, why kill yourself cross-over and around so much? Why not just face forward through most of the song and nail every arrow that comes your way? Certainly this is still not easier, 1000 steps in a 3 to 4 minute song is still very difficult.

So that's it really... I'm still making my own charts with a great variety of steps patterns: cross-overs and 540's. There are many step-artists on R21Freak.com who love them to a fault (I'm calling out Nemo right here).

But we need to get back to our roots and twist our bodies a little bit more. :p

Every week I pack up my bag and hit an arcade for a few hours of ITG... so that hour long drive better be worth it!

Sight-reading new files while at the arcade can be fun, but also a great waste of money. Not just because the file can be awful, but you could fail out your round due to technical errors/timing in the file... they just suck.

So here are some awesome files I've been playing this week at home and in the 'cade.

Nick Boys (ex9)
Tomosuke + Des Row

Every once-in-a-while someone out there makes a 9 footer that everyone has to play. This is a lower tempo (by ITG standards) around 110bpm, so the 32nd notes feel fantastic. There are some super fun cross-overs during the verse sections, and some great tricky tempo stops/stutters to the music in the opening. 5-star-file.

Heust Mein Tag (ex11)

Leave it to Mandodo to make some super-fun steps. Though he has put out some more difficult files, they never go into the sideways cross-over territory. This is an excellent example of Mandodo at the top of his game. The song is super catchy too, which doesn't hurt.

GEE (ex11)
Girls Generation

Soooo.. this song has been doing its rounds through the step-chart scene, and apparently popular through youtube too. The steps for this are fscking insane, especially considering the tame song that they are complimenting. There are crazy ass 32nd bursts, strange hands sections, and look out during each bridge to the chorus, those jump/holds are quite tricky to read the first time through. What puts this one in my list is the catchy tune (full version at that), catchy tune, and it was fun to play with a group at the arcade.

So that all of them, hopefully I'll be back around to post some other fun stuff every week. I'll probably get my weekly 10 minute mixes up in here for good measure.

-rob (I'm not a gamer, I just play one game obsessively)