Most DDR songs are licensed from Toshiba EMI's Dancemania collections, imported from other Bemani titles or created for the game by Konami artists such as Naoki, the main music producer for the DDR game series. Lyrics to all DDR songs can be found at AKDDR.com.
Music in DDR may be fast or slow, or may even change tempo. It is a common mistake to assume that slower songs are always easier; often, the exact opposite is true, as reading fast-scrolling and thus widely spaced arrows is often easier than reading lots of dense, slow-scrolling arrows. Each song has multiple step patterns associated with it, rated in difficulty from 1 to 10 "feet". The 1-3 foot step patterns are recommended for beginners, and 4-8 are of intermediate difficulty. Nine foot songs, commonly referred to as 'catas' (short for 'Catastrophic', the label given to these steps on 3rd Mix) generally require high levels of mastery of one of more specific DDR skills (such as stamina, rhythm recognition or special techniques such as 'spins', 'crossovers' or 'gallops'), and being able to pass these songs is widely regarded as the mark of a proficient player. Last are the songs with 10 foot step patterns. There are very few of these, and the steps for all but one proceed at an incredible speed; runs containing 10 arrows per second are not uncommon. Extreme demands are placed on a player's physical endurance, as well as arrow reading and balancing capability; only a handful of players can pass these songs with ease. Most regular players of DDR play on Heavy mode, although beginners are advised to start with "Light" mode, which contains mostly songs rated from 1 to 3 feet. Some versions additionally have a "Beginner" mode where almost every song is rated 1 foot and has a dancer in the background demonstrating the moves. For a list of all DDR songs with difficulties, go to DDR Freak.
Increasing levels bring more and more arrows in more elaborate and difficult arrangements, "hold" or "freeze" arrows which require the foot to remain on the appropriate square, and syncopation. Sometimes the scrolling arrows "freeze" in time with a silent gap in the music. Players may also introduce variations, such as obscuring the arrows (forcing the player to dance by memory) or changing the scrolling speed.
Regular players of DDR drive the continuing markets
for game upgrades. There are many DDR versions; each new "mix" includes both familiar
music from past games and new songs (so-called "Konami originals").
There are also Disney-specific and "Euromix" versions. Reluctance
by Konami to release some versions in the USA has led to widespread gray-market
imports of mixes intended only for the domestic (Japanese) market, and
even bootleg copies. A Korean company, Andamiro, produces a competing
dance game series called Pump It Up which has 5 floor buttons instead
of 4, in the four corners and center of the dance pad.
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