FAQ: Beginners Tips/Improvement Methods
by Eckostyle, 29 April 04
In this FAQ, I'll be mainly toughing on two aspects newbies should get to know: staying on beat, and finding your footing.
Getting On Beat/Basic Steps
In DDR, it is rather common to have arrows that "sync" mainly with the main beat of the song, and not the other sounds of the song you hear (which is commonly practiced in most songs played on Expert/SSR/Maniac/Heavy mode). As a newbie, you'll be dealing mostly with out basic arrows, commonly referred to as 1/4ths, meaning they are on 1/4th of the beat. The best thing to keep thinking in your head is that with a steady stream of these, the beat of the arrows will not change, so don't think you have to step quicker or slower than you previously stepped, it repeats(Boom Boom Dollar on Light/Basic is an example of this). If you keep saying "1, 2, 3, 4" in you head, it helps a lot. I used to do it myself when I was learning how to play. Be sure to play by listening to the music.
As the name implies, 1/8th arrows are on 1/8th of the beat, and they are twice as fast as 1/4ths. These are some arrows that take some time getting used to. It can be hard to shift your "beat" to these arrows; suddenly stepping faster than you were initially. While a good way to get used to them is to do the counting tip I mentioned earlier, but say it like this. 1, 2, 1-2-3. That's 1/4th, 1/4th, and three 1/8ths. The hard part of most 1/8th's is shifting your body weight around the pad to hit constant patterns of them (you'll see a lot of this in the song I Believe In Miracles). It is easy to get confused and lose the beat while handling chains of them, so heavy attention is required to do most 1/8th chains(once you improve, you'll see a lot of this in Holic Heavy, and the utterly confusing End Of The Century heavy). Again, be sure to play by listening.
1/16th arrows, as its name implies, are arrows that are 1/16th of the beat, hence, they are very fast. You won't see much 1/16th arrows until you start doing songs on Heavy mode, but it's good to know about them, because doing then can be hellish. While there are chains of 1/16th arrows, there are also gallops which use 1/16th's. Now, if you're like me, doing these can be a problem, and can prevent you from many of FC's (full combos). Staying on beat can be hard for these, also keeping your feet stepping with them. I've been told that the best way to take chains of 1/16th's is to concentrate hard on the first three arrows, and in your mind, repeat the beat as you hit the arrows. Stepping too fast is common with this, so getting in beat is crucial. Again, be sure to play by listening.
With 1/8th and 1/16th arrows, it will take precision to hit these once you're starting out. It's a bad idea to fall dependent, but if you are playing on any mix higher than 5th Mix, using the 1.5x mod is a helpful, but again, don't fall dependent on it. It speeds up the arrows a bit, giving them more space between them, thus, making them easier to read. Most people that can't hit them are thinking too hard, thinking the arrows are faster than they look. 1.5x is a heavily overused mod though (I've been to places that shun the use of it), so like I said, don't fall dependent. Just use it as an occasional tool. Turn it on, get the beat, and turn it off. Again, be sure to play by listening.
This is the second biggest problems most beginners (even some pros) have. While looking at others play the game, seeing them step perfectly with the arrow combinations, you might think it's easy for a first timer. Wrong. Just like getting on beat, this is one part of DDR you must get down. Don't worry, you wont be doing this your entire DDR playtime, because after much practice, you'll find yourself hitting all the arrows without even thinking about it.
First, the best songs to learn footing with are mainly ones under 100 BPM (except Bag, which is a wee bit too slow). In addition, some more upbeat songs like B4U can prepare you for the bulk of DDR songs that share the same/similar BPM count. You should try to avoid faster songs like Paranoia, Exotic Ethnic, and End of the Century. Getting used to these songs can take a bit more time. You have to crawl before you can walk, so take it slow and easy. We all had to do that, and look where it got us.
The best way to understand your footing is to NOT concentrate on the arrows on the top of the screen, but concentrate on where the approaching arrow is pointing. If you are concentrating on the top arrows, you'll be prone to messing up, because you have a split second to step, you won't be concentrating on the approaching steps, and you'll just end up confusing yourself. Paying attention to what's coming instead of what's there is vital. Many beginners make this mistake. On the machine, it says to step once the arrows hit the top, but don't take that literally. Sure, hit them when they get to the top, but don't concentrate solely on the top. Believe me, it helps.
Another thing to know is not to try to progress quicker than you already are. Master something before you move onto your next objective, or problems may arise. That can really mess you up, and will require "backtracking", whereas you must stop and go back a few steps. Take everything one at a time, and you'll be good. You can so something else unless you do what's before it. This is the best way to go.
And remember, practice, practice, practice!!!