Friday, December 09, 2011

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Review: Step It Up Jewish DDR Dance Game

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths


Dance Dance Revolution started as an arcade game where a song place and dance steps are shown on the screen.  You play by matching the right foot movement, up – down – left – right, or a jump move left-right or up-down. 

It later became available as an Xbox and PC game.  For the Xbox and PC you need not only the game but the pressure pads to record the dance step.

The problem with Dance Dance Revolution and their PC or Xbox versions is the selection of music.  Naturally it’s modern popular dance music that’s part of the draw, and modern popular dance music is mostly inappropriate for religious society.

Some years ago I became interested in the game and found Stepmania, a free DDR game for the PC, which includes a feature to add your own music.  But this is a dance game, so adding your own music means then adding your own step pattern for the music – and I’m neither a musician nor a dancer.  So while I built one easy song at one difficulty level and bought a set of dance pads, that was pretty much the end of my Jewish step-dance game experiment.

This past week one of my daughters had her bat mitzvah.  As a recommended activity my wife thought setting up the step dance game would be great.  But creating that one song I’d done in the past had taken days of effort.

Fortunately my wife saw an online ad for a Judaica store in New York having a special on Step It Up – Jewish Step Dance game.

Step It Up is a full features DDR (dance dance revolution type) step dance game with a library of 30 Jewish songs, all modern religious Jewish pop music including hit songs from Lipa and Eli Gerstner, and another library of 30 instrumental-only clean dance music such as The Chicken Dance and April Showers.  Each song has 5 different levels of dance steps, from beginner to super-expert.  Further, every song includes background images, and all images are appropriate for a Jewish religious audience.

The game has the same feature set as all the DDR step dance games and operates identically.  It includes helpful instructions and a variety of options for more advanced play such as a battle mode where you can send dance steps at your opponent.

ddr_stepWe used it at my daughter’s bat mitzvah as an activity.  It was incredibly well received and active from the beginning to the end of the event.  The girls loved it!

Positives – Full featured DDR dance step game with a good selection of Jewish religious pop-dance music as well as neutral dance music.

Negatives – Slightly pricey at $49.99, though it’s understandable with a limited market.  Also, the “automatic dance pad configuration” did not work for me.  The software  has to be “taught” which is the left pad, which is the right pad (if you’re doing 2 player), and which button is up – down – left – right.  Manual configuration is not difficult and was identical to the other DDR game I’d used, so it was easy to configure manually but does require a bit of geek ability (as Reb Gutman would say).  One thing that confuses people in doing this is the game does not use the mouse, it uses either the pads or keyboard arrow keys to move around, once you know that the rest is easy.

The manufacturer sells the game alone, together with dance pads or with extra-durable dance pads.  I was surprised that my “basic” dance pads survived the bat mitzvah, so I would recommend starting with basic pads.

The company was very customer-service responsive for me, answering some pre-purchase questions very quickly and making it available to me by download instead of by CD (since I’m in Israel and didn’t want to wait 2 weeks).

If you’ve got kids, particularly girls, I strongly recommend this game.  It’s fun and good exercise for all ages (though you have to be about 8 years old to be sufficiently coordinated to succeed – this doesn’t stop younger ages from enjoying it though).  And don’t worry if you can’t dance, it’s still loads of fun.

The manufacturer's online web shop is here.

Note I paid full retail price and was not solicited for a recommendation.

1 comment:

  1. it's bad enough that the religious jewish world uses too much synthesized sound which is bad for the soul. music generated from machines? what is possibly good about that? think about it? what is music really for?

    now they have 'house beat' music for frum kids? give me a break. the music is not appropriate. it has the same nightclub rhythm feel and the same cheezy synthesized sound. who cares if a religious guy is singing in yiddish? the "music" is still lousy.

    when will the jewish religious world begin to see more clearly and use 1. real musicians playing 2. real music (without machines) and 3. stop using modern pop-music rhythms and beats which actually are not uplifting for the soul at all.


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