Though its popularity has waned in recent years, Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution franchise has seen numerous entries on literally every platform on the market. It also seemingly single handedly saved arcades from total annilhilation: or at least it staved off their downfall for a few more years. For myself, DDR was a way of life in high school. A group of my friends and I would play every day (no exaggeration there, we’d literally play every day), oftentimes directly after a swim practice or other school event. We even had a small rivalry going with another group of DDR-players at the arcades and in school! While I deemed myself good at the game, I was never anywhere near a competitive level, with even my friends topping me at every corner. Regardless, Dance Dance Revolution made up a large part of my gaming years. I’ve been thinking about the game recently, after picking up a random game in the series, and that got me thinking about my all-time favorite songs from the series. Now, I’ve written a lot of articles on this blog about top tens and whatnot, but nothing has been as challenging to narrow down to just ten than this list! It was tough, but I managed to whittle down all the songs I’ve danced to to just ten, and here they are, my top ten favorite DDR songs!
**Click the links to listen to each song. It adds a lot to the experience!**
10. Healing Vision ~Angelic mix~ (DDR Max)
The constant pulsing in the background like a heartbeat, the eerie melody, and some intense steps, the remix to “Healing Vision” was one of the earliest 8+ foot song (if I remember correctly) that I not only enjoyed, but actually could complete on Heavy! DDR has a tradition of remixing tunes, and usually my group of friends always disagreed on which version was the best. With “Healing Vision” we all agreed “~Angelic mix~” was far superior to the original, more mellow song. Also, this song is one of the oldest songs on this list! Way to go 2MB for making a timeless tune!
9. Drop the Bomb ~System S.F. Mix~ (DDR Max)
A double dose of the PS2 game that launched it all for is, “Drop the Bomb ~System S.F. Mix~ was the very last song you’d unlock from the game. It also happened to be one of my friends favorites, and perhaps because of that, or because it took so much effort to unlock, or because we ended up hearing it so damn much the more we played, the song has stuck with me through the years. “Drop the Bomb” is one of the early DDR songs that is somewhat synonymous with the series itself. I didn’t think it got worthwhile until this edit came out, which featured a more intense step pattern and better dance music in general.
8. Twilight Zone ~R-C Extended Club MIX~ (DDR Max 2)
I first heard of Dance Dance Revolution when I went to a party after the swimming season at a teammates place. He had DDR Max 2, a big screen TV, and two pads hooked up before I even got there. Once I started playing, I really only stopped to eat food and wipe the sweat from my face. One of the songs that stands out there is “Twilight Zone ~R-C Extended Club MIX~. A relatively easy song to AA/AAA, it was the familiar beat combined with the steps that I, as a beginner, could just barely get but wanted even more to master. “Twilight Zone” hasn’t really lived on much for me, but it will always be hand-in-hand with DDR since it was the game that essentially got me hooked!
7. Kind Lady (DDR Max)
If any of my old DDR friends happen to be reading this (thanks, guys!) they’ll be wondering how this song isn’t in the number one spot. It was a well known fact amongst the group that Jason liked “Kind Lady”, so much so that I’d always play it. As a matter of fact, it actually took on a life of its own among the group: it would almost always be our “warm-up song” we’d play first before playing harder songs. “Kind Lady” is in no way a hard song, but the catchy beat along with the steps that weren’t chaotic or hard to perform did offer enough movement to really get your feeling the beat. A remix came later in DDR Max 2, but it would never compare to the awesomeness that is the original “Kind Lady”!
6. Tsugaru (DDR Max 2)
This is when this lot got way harder to create. I had to choose between “Tsugaru” and the equally excellent, Asian-influenced “Matsuri Japan”. Obviously I went with the gallop frenzy, eighth-note loving “Tsugaru” over the more intense “Matsuri.” The shamisen, the instrument creating those sweet sounding twangs rings heavily in the song, and you’ll feel the rhythm as you hop around the dance pad to the beat. “Tsugaru” was also an influential song for my DDR improvement, because it showed me how to do those skips/gallops easily, since they went along with the beat. And that ending just gives you chills when your out there performing. Oh, the memories!
5. Secret Rendez-vous (DDR Max)
There are hundreds of DDR songs to choose from, and while I undoubtedly believe no one’s list will match mine, I’m more than positive no one else will include this one as a potential top ten song. Something about “Secret Rendez-vous” has just stuck with me: when it comes up on my iPod randomly, I usually listen and feel nostalgic, whereas other DDR songs get passed over. The first song I played that was in a super-slow tempo, it featured fun steps, catchy music, and one of the more awkward moments when dancing to it with someone else. And it was all better because of it!
4. Jet World (DDR Extreme)
“Jet World” ushered in a new time for my DDR playing: when DDR Extreme released on the PS2 in 2004 it was a huge letdown compared to the truly excellent arcade version of the same name. The added “support” of the PS2’s EyeToy camera was a joke, and the song selection featured more licensed tracks than I’d like (a trend which sadly continued for all subsequent DDR games). Fortunately there were still gems hidden in the rubbish, and one of those was “Jet World.” A simple step pattern but constant barrage of notes made “Jet World” one of the more intense songs while remaining relatively simple at the same time. As with other songs here, the beat and tune itself make the song way more memorable!
3. Sakura (DDR Extreme Arcade)
“Sakura” was perhaps the easiest 10-footer I’ve played. That didn’t stop the song from being one of the series’ finest songs, almost perfectly combining intensity, chaos, freezes, complete stops in music, and one hell of an ending! Though the song was included in the PS2 port, it was only in the arcade I remember playing “Sakura”. The DDR Extreme arcade cabinet wasn’t officially released in the United States, so any arcades with the machine had it imported or upgraded with a kit. Being so, many words and song titles were written in Japanese, which was the case with “Sakura”, which used the Kanji (which you can see on the cheek of the girl in the background). As far as DDR music goes, “Sakura” remains one of the coolest sounding songs out there, and one you could jam to without even playing the game.
2. The Legend of Max (DDR Extreme)
If you aren’t familiar with the PS2 DDR games, there is always a song from the “Max” line of tunes as one of the “Boss” songs for the game (i.e. the most challenging song present in that particular version of the game). DDR Max had “Max 300”, a tough 10-footer which required a lot endurance; DDR Max 2 had “Maxx Unlimited”, which was arguably an easier song but more intense; and then DDR Extreme had “The Legend of Max.” Almost taking a bow to itself, “The Legend of Max” was superior to the other two, even going so far as to incorporate the beats from both songs as part of its own. “The Legend of Max” was the song I remember working on the most to overcome, but I never could complete it on Heavy. It represents the entire series for me: great music, a huge challenge, and a lot of determination to win. Also, the song itself is pretty slick.
1. Kakumei (DDR Max 2)
When I think of DDR, I think of “Kakumei.” It’s a classic in every respect: great step patterns, memorable song, challenging enough to keep you trying over and over, but not so hard you fall down crying after you fail. I think for me personally “Kakumei” was a song I saw as a challenge, practiced and got better, and finally overcame the challenge. For my DDR group it became a walk in the park after we’d been playing for some time, with some of us even completing the extra Challenge step pattern. But for me, it was the pinnacle of what made DDR awesome!
Like I said, this wasn’t an easy list to make. I went through EVERY song in each of the Dance Dance Revolution games I had played and pulled out the ones that I liked the most. This lead to a list over 40 songs long. After some cuts, I was down to 19. Let’s give those nine songs an honorable mention shoutout:
Xepher (DDR Supernova)
Matsuri Japan (DDR Max)
La Senorita Virtual (DDR Konamix)
Colors ~for Extreme~ (DDR Ultramix)
Breakdown (DDR Max 2)
Will I? (DDR Max 2)
Cartoon Heroes (Speedy Mix) (DDR Extreme 2)
Captain Jack (Grandale Remix) (DDR Extreme 2)
Candy (DDR Max)
Even going through those songs just now I’m not sure I made the right choices on my actual top ten! And there are dozens of other songs I’d call my favorites, the ones I would just have to play if I popped the games back in again. By doing all the research for this article I found out that I almost have a complete collection of North American DDR games! I’m not afraid to admit I played the game: it was a huge part of my gaming background, and one that I’m not going to forget!