Marco's Blog

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Trying out StepMania

2007-04-10 2 min read Software marco

I remember the first time I saw a bunch of kids hanging around a Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) arcade game. It was at the Metreon in San Francisco, and I was just waiting for the movie to start.

There I am, watching twelve-year-olds jumping like maniacs, realizing that was a variation of dance that combined arcade game qualities with physical exercise. It sounded like a dream combination: you appeal to the kids’ competitive nature to make them work out more. And the whole jumping and twisting looked cool, not at all like the stupid exercises to the tune of video games. I remember the dorky treadmill that had a runner in front of you – my, this was to that what Dragon’s Lair was to Pong!

Now, a while ago I discovered stepmania, a game that for all intents and purposes is a remake of DDR under the GPL. It runs on a bunch of different platforms, so I tried downloading and running the Linux version – what do you know, it worked just fine, and it allowed me to play the dorky themes from the download page.

Fast forward a month, and I see a dance pad at the local Best Buy. It’s the redoctane ignition 3.0, with multiple interfaces. I check the stepmania home page, and sure enough, it’s supported. For $59.99, it looks doable. I go back, buy myself one, and attach it to the computer via USB. And you know what, it works!

Not that I had a lot of time to test: I had to go to the gym in the morning, and this was just a diversion on my way to spinning. But maybe I will be able to test tonight?

The pad, by the way, feels really good. It’s sturdy, padded, and the controls are above a foam matting that protects your feet. Particularly important, because I strained my ankle on Saturday during a particularly stupid move.