Sound Voltex: Vivid Wave

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DJ Button Game

Version Release Date: February 28, 2019

Sound Voltex or SDVX is one of the largest arcade rhythm games as of late. With 6 buttons and 2 knobs to control the sound of the music, this game offers a fun and unique experience that entertains first-timers and challenges rhythm game veterans. The machines are found in almost every Round1 in the US.

Overall Difficulty: Medium

Timing windows for this game are relatively large and forgiving for "critical" judgements (+-33.3ms). However, the sheer amount of notes and complex patterns in high level gameplay balance this out. The game is great for players new to button-based rhythm games or rhythm games in general. SDVX also happens to be one of the more visually polished rhythm games with very flashy gameplay that attracts spectators.

sdvx cabinet

Dance Dance Revolution A20+

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4-panel Dance Game

Version Release Date: July 1, 2020

Dance Dance Revolution or DDR for short is a game featuring 4 pads in an up-down-left-right configuration. It's one of the easiest rhythm games to find in America, both Round1 and Dave & Buster's carry the latest version connected to official servers. Lots of small arcades will also have a DDR machine though these will likely be older versions, good for nostalgia.

Overall Difficulty: Hard

Dance Dance Revolution or DDR for short is the game that took both Japan and America by storm in the late 90s and early 2000s. Over its 22 and counting years of being an arcade staple, the game has grown significantly more difficult. Perfect note judgements are divided between two categories, Perfect (+-33.3ms) and Marvelous (+-16.67ms), with the latter rewarding an additional 10 points. This allows for a high skill ceiling, even the highest skill players seldom hit every note with a Marvelous judgement.

ddr cabinet

Pump It Up XX

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5-panel Dance Game

Version Release Date: January, 2020

Pump it Up or PIU is a dance game with 5 buttons, one at the center and one in each of the diagonal corners. It has become the long standing rival of DDR. While both games can support two players at once, PIU is more infamous for its "Doubles" mode. In doubles, one player takes over the whole machine, controlling all 10 panels at once. PIU can be found in most Round1 and Dave & Buster's as well as some smaller arcades, almost all of which are connected to official servers.

Overall Difficulty: Hard

This game's timing windows are perhaps the largest of any arcade rhythm game, with a perfect judgement being given at +-79.1ms. Yet it makes up for it with sheer note density and surprisingly complex note patterns at the highest levels. PIU is less a game about rhythmic accuracy and more about pure physical ability. The most difficult charts in the game only have a small handful of people in the world who can pass them.

piu cabinet

DanceRush Stardom

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Freestyle Dance Game

Version Release Date: March 3, 2018

DanceRush is perhaps one of the most unique rhythm games. Rather than featuring panels, the game uses a pad with infrared sensors to locate the aproximate location of each foot. This leads to gameplay that feels more akin to actual dancing than a rhythm game. Machines are not very common in America, and the game has only been out for 2 years leading to Round1 being one of the only locations that carries it.

Overall Difficulty: Easy*

While the actual scoring and charting of this game are rather easy, that's not what earns DanceRush its reputation. DanceRush's unique infrared system allows for players to freestyle while playing with ease. In fact, most competitions feature a panel a judges that rate the competitor's performance on top of the game's scoring.

dancerush cabinet

Beatmania IIDX 28: Bistrover

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DJ Button Game

Version Release Date: October 28, 2020

While DDR is known as the grandfather of dancing games, Beatmania is the grandfather of button games. Beatmania was released on the last day of 1997 and featured 5 buttons and a DJ scratch disk. The game was extremely popular and was shortly succeeded by its, "child" Beatmania II deluxe or IIDX in 1999. This game now had 7 buttons instead of the previous 5 along with the DJ scratch disk. IIDX is found in almost if not all US Round1 Locations.

Overall Difficulty: Hard

IIDX is not for the feint of heart. It features stringent timing windows at +-16.67 for a "Perfect Great" and heavily punishes your score for receiving anything else. Charts in the game feature such complex and strange patterns that many permanently use the "Random" mod, changing which notes in the chart are assigned to a specific button. While not for beginners, the community often jokes that IIDX, "is the game all rhythm gamers eventually turn to."

iidx cabinet

Wacca Lily

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Circular Touchscreen Game

Version Release Date: September 17, 2020

Wacca is the newest rhythm game on this list, with its first release in July of 2019. The game has a circular screen with a cone of touch sensitive panels protruding from it. Due to its extremely new release not even all Round1 Locations, the Mecca of rhythm games in America, have it, though many will soon if not already.

Overall Difficulty: Medium

Be advised, if you plan to play this game regularly, buy a cheap pair of cotton gloves. Wacca not only has the regular tap and hold types of notes but also swipes left, right, towards, and away from the player. Even at moderate difficulties these can eviscerate your fingers. While the sheer quantity of notes in Wacca charts are less than other games, they require much more effort due to the circular nature of the controller.

wacca cabinet

Project Diva Arcade: Future Tone

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Vocaloid Rhythm Game

Version Release Date: November 21, 2013

Project Diva features the popular vocaloid Hatsune Miku and her ensemble of friends. Songs in this game are exclusively vocaloid based, allowing for many Project Diva exclusives, despite the drawback of no songs of other genres.

Overall Difficulty: Easy

Project Diva uses 4 buttons with the PlayStation X,O,Triangle, and Square symbols and a touch slider for left and right motions. What's unique is that Project Diva doesn't feature an approach system similar to most games. While many games have notes approaching the player or a judgement line, Project Diva trails notes across the screen in a semi-random pattern similar to osu. This makes the game much more about comprehending what buttons you are supposed to press than following the rhythm or completing a pattern of notes. Due to this, all but the highest difficulties often spam one button to a rhythm, making the game extremely casual friendly.

PD cabinet

Groove Coaster 4 MAX

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Joystick Button Game

Version Release Date: March 29, 2018

Groove Coaster is a former mobile rhythm game that received an arcade version in November 2013. It features two joysticks with buttons on top and a vertical screen orientation. The game is also one of the only if not the only rhythm game to feature invisible bonus notes. Ad-lib notes are invisible, but can be obtained with ease by tapping to the rhythm when no other notes are present. Fortunately, they are not necessary to pass, and do not break combo if you happen to miss one.

Overall Difficulty: Easy

While this is said in a good way, Groove Coaster is probably the easiest game on this list. The game only features two buttons though they technically double up on one input. That being said, it is far and away the best game to play with your non-rhythm friends. Controls are simple to understand and are explained on the loading screen for each song. It most definitely can get difficult, with the expert difficulties requiring a unique coordination to hit all the notes.

gc cabinet