At long last, I now have an excuse to write about one of my absolute favourite games: the wonderful and ridiculous Dance Dance Revolution. Two days ago, the game turned 20 - marking two decades since its original release in Japan on the 26th September 1998. It's almost as old as me. Almost.
For those who (somehow) missed it, DDR is a rhythm game that requires players to step in time to arrow instructions on the screen. It originated as an arcade cabinet game, and much of the hardcore competitive scene is still centred on this aspect. But there were also a lot of home releases for consoles such as the PlayStation, Dreamcast, GameCube and the Wii. And when I say a lot, I mean A LOT.
Despite its impractical nature, DDR still had a significant cultural impact - it formed a key part of arcade culture in the late 90s and early 00s, and has even been referenced in films such as Scott Pilgrim vs The World. To me, at least, it felt like practically everyone had a soft dance mat at home when I was growing up. I still own at least four games and two pads for the Wii - sue me.
Konami clearly doesn't want the occasion to go unmarked, and has gradually been releasing new content to celebrate DDR's big 2-0. In an update on the 26th, DDR cabinets around the world were given a new mode called "DDR Selection," which allows players to dance to their favourite songs with retro UI overlays. It's a true throwback, and gives players an idea of what DDR would have looked like in the early days. There's also a brand new song called "Show Me Your Moves". I'm going to be honest, the name just reminds me of that Rick and Morty episode with the giant head.
From the new DDR update: UIs from the old mixes and really cool intros before gameplay. Show Me Your Moves is a new song to the game introduced in this update too! pic.twitter.com/5NwSO9rJ58— Mark Grady (@MarkGrady_) September 26, 2018
And the party isn't stopping here. According to the special DDR 20th Anniversary website, Konami will release more content in the coming days, but we don't know exactly what this is yet. How very mysterious.
Fans, meanwhile, have also been getting into the celebratory spirit. Some Japanese players, for instance, have been holding special 20th anniversary DDR tournaments. I'm not going to lie, 90 per cent of the reason for me including this is because the graphic design work is simply stunning.
On social media, many fans have been sharing memories of their DDR experiences and what the game means to them. One tweeted a photo which is widely considered to be the earliest shot of a DDR game. Apparently it was taken during a Japanese test event in 1998 - little did they know exactly what they'd unleashed.
With everyone talking about DDRs 20h Anniversary it felt wrong for me not to share my memories along with everyone else. Ever since my first experience with a DDR Extreme machine my life was never the same after putting my first token in.#DDR20?? #DDR20th @konami @DDR_573 pic.twitter.com/vz5xTicnau— Dean Federico (@TehParalyzer) September 26, 2018
Speaking of throwbacks, I've always loved browsing the old DDR videos from the 00s. Check out this impressive synchronised freestyle routine to Dynamite Rave. I guess this is what the kids did before Fortnite dances.
If it's been a while since you've enjoyed the delights of a DDR game, you can find DDR cabinets in the UK using this site, while the r/DanceDanceRevolution subreddit has some great tips on which dance mats to buy - whether you're a pro or a beginner.
Personally, I decided to celebrate last week by publicly humiliating Eurogamer's social media manager Paul at DDR during the EGX community party. How have you been celebrating DDR's 20th birthday?