Stepmania
Written by Angelo M. D'Argenio   
Sunday, 21 October 2007

Ah Dance Dance Revolution.  The Anti-Videogame.  A game with no violence, no objectionable content, no fantasy themes, heck no story!  In fact, it’s a game that actually helps you get in shape and lose weight!  It exists counter to everything we think a real videogame is, and succeeds in being one of the best games out there by doing so.

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For those of you who didn’t immediately hop on the flashy lights panel stomping rave machine bandwagon, DDR is really simple.  A song plays, and as it does you have to step on one of four arrows beneath your feet to the beat.  As the difficulty increases the songs get faster and the steps become more technical.  Miss too many and you are out.  Simple right? 

Well, as many of you know it wasn’t simple enough, and the game started evolving.  There are “hold” steps where you have to keep your foot on an arrow for a period of time, bombs, which are arrows you can’t step on during a beat, and a whole slew of game options including random arrow distributions, wonky graphical effects to mess you up, and increasing or decreasing arrow speed and spacing.  Then of course imitators came by in the groove was made, along with pump it up, and several others, introducing corner arrows, a middle arrow, and even hand movements for some.  Soon the games were so complicated and so diverse, there seemed to be infinite options if you wanted to play a game that made you move your feet to the beat, but with all these advancements, there was still one problem with every single one of these games, they didn’t include your favorite song.

This is where Stepmania enters the mix.  The great programmers of this DDR emulator figured out that storing step lists wasn’t very hard at all.  They also found out that if your computer could play MP3’s that all DDR music can simply be recorded and played back the same way.  A couple tweaks here or there and Stepmania was made.

Stepmania is really simple; it is a game that lets you play DDR (and any other foot based dance game) on your computer.  That’s it.  Now this might not seem like a big deal to a lot of you guys, but bear with me.  Stepmania is another:”folders are your friends” sort of emulator, where it uses the inherit folder structure of your OS to help the game run.  What does this mean?  Well for a song to show up on your dance list just create a folder with the name of the song, and put in an MP3.  Done!!  Of course you are probably going to want a step list for that, so you can either download that too, or use Stepmania’s step maker mode to make your own custom dance steps.  Then, if you really want to go overboard, add band-art for the selection screen, a movie to play while you play the song, characters, different difficulty levels, so on so forth.  The songs will show up, organized exactly how you want them in the folders you want them, so even if you have over six thousand songs (which many people who own Stepmania actually do) you can locate the song you want easily.

Stepmania really has something for everyone.  For the casual players, people will just love to hear their favorite songs on the dance floor.  A fan of Mindless Self Indulgence?  Dance to em!  Like System of a Down?  Dance to that!  What about the badger badger badger song?  Done!  Heck even things like boss fight music from other games are stepped out on Stepmania, and most are available for Download so you never really have to lift a creative finger!  The most expanded version of Stepmania I have ever seen had over 12,000 songs including every song ever released on any beat game and then some, and most were fully decked out with movies and art to go with it.

For the competitive crowd, Stepmania includes songs that should have never been made due to the fear of god smiting us in rage.  What I mean by that is if you thought that a 10 out of 10 for difficulty on DDR was hard, Stepmania features songs that go up to 15 or 20.  Remixes of the original fan favorites Paranoia and Max 300 have been done and redone creating things like Paranoia Max Ultimate XXX.450 DX Redone or something like that, where your feet never stop moving and your heart nearly bursts out of your chest.  Stepmania also has every option ever included to increase or decrease difficulty on a song and then some.  It also features some custom two player modes both cooperative and versus, as well as double modes for people who want to use both pads, and even songs that require you to use both your feet and hands.

The thing that really makes Stepmania shine is the sheer ability to customize.  Truthfully that’s really the whole point.  Stepmania was built to be specifically the only dance game you ever needed.  It’s simple to program and simple to play, and the only thing that really makes this even the slightest bit difficult is the fact that dance pads that work on a USB computer interface are somewhat hard to find. 

This is actually the thing I would advise you to be on guard about if you are thinking about downloading Stepmania.  The program is free but pads to play it aren’t and if you don’t have one you will be stuck dancing with your fingers on a keyboard the whole time.  The biggest problem, many pads/controller to USB converters simply don’t work even though they are advertised to.  The problem is Stepmania requires your computer to register two opposite inputs at the same time, like left and right and up and down.  This is because certain steps include “jumps” that have you press those corresponding arrows.  Of course most computer controllers and keyboards don’t take this into account so be absolutely certain when buying a pad that it is Stepmania compatible.

Other than that, if you are a fan of dance games there is literally no reason not to download Stepmania.  Its simple, it’s effective, it can even be ported onto an Xbox hard drive if you really want to have it on a console.  It is quite simply, the last dance game you will ever have to buy… err… download.

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Related: N/A
Developer: Stepmania.com
Website for Game: http://www.stepmania.com/
Publisher:N/A
O/S: Windows/MAC/Linux
Cost of Full Game: N/A
Where to get:
Download here!
Year of Release: 2007

Requirements:
N/A
Tested on:
Intel Core2Duo 1,86 GHz, 2 GB RAM, Windows Vista

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