Folks like me who play DDR for fitness may eventually run into a plateau of sorts. Your body is now so used to the game that many of the standard/difficult songs and maybe even some of the heavy/expert songs just don’t get you panting like they used to, yet when you try to attack the really hard, hyper songs, you end up with blisters, shin splints and frustration. And maybe it’s my age, but those Max and Paranoia songs on the harder levels just don’t float my boat. They make me feel like my parents: “You call that music? That’s NOISE!”
Solution? Get yourself a second pad, and learn to play doubles. It may feel almost like learning the game all over again, and you may even have to go back to Beginner or Light until you get the hang of it. But once I got it, I loved it. Traveling back and forth across two pads feels almost like actual dancing, and the lateral motion raises the heartbeat and burns more calories without added speed or impact. I can play several doubles songs with a 5 or 6 difficulty, and burn as many calories as I burn on a 7-or 8-footer in singles.
Of course doubles doesn’t come without its drawbacks. You’ll need a second pad that closely matches your first one, and you need a way to keep them together. I have several Xbox pads from the original DDR Ultramix bundles, and for my PS2, rather than cough up another $300 for a second Cobalt Flux metal pad, I bought two RedOctane thin mats which are very good quality and sometimes crop up online for around $20. My workout room has a ceramic tile floor, so the mats stay in place pretty well with just a little adjustment between songs (which I do with a sort of “wall squat” motion). Some players tape or staple pads together on a flat backing such as a piece of plywood or cardboard; I may try that someday if I’m really bored, which doesn’t often happen before the kids leave for college.
Another drawback of sorts is that most of the DDR games’ workout modes are singles only. So if you want to play doubles on any of the Ultramixes or PS2 DDRs up through SuperNOVA 2, you have to play in game mode and risk failure, or switch to training mode. Happily, doubles was added to workout mode in last year’s DDR X, so you can design and play courses even if you need to take an occasional water break. A fun DDR knockoff for PS2, In The Groove, also offers doubles in workout mode (I’ll review that soon – another overlooked game worth digging out of the bargain bin). You can also try doubles on Endless Mode in all the PS2 games except DDRMAX; I like to put it on Light for an hour or so of steady-state cardio.
Now for you Wii owners, you’re probably wondering “ok, which menu has the Doubles on it?” You can stop looking, because it isn’t there. Konami broke down and added a training mode to Hottest Party 2, but doubles players are still left in the lurch. No word yet on whether 2009’s edition of DDR (called simply Dance Dance Revolution) will bring doubles to the Wii, but it’s pretty much a given that the PS2 version will have doubles, which is why I’m looking forward to that one the most.