What is a gimmick?
About two years ago, I started hearing people throw this word around. “It’s a gimmicky chart” – “The gimmick makes it difficult” – and so on. So, what exactly makes a chart gimmicky anyway? What is a gimmick in Dance Dance Revolution and In the Groove? Here is a list of as many gimmicks I could think up – as well as explanations:
- Speed Change
This would arguably be the first gimmick ever seen in four panel dance games. The first song to use a speed change was (correct me if I am wrong) Little Bitch which starts a little slower on the first two notes and increases speed (slightly) afterward. A more obvious version of the speed change gimmick was seen in Saints Go Marching on 4th Mix Plus. It slows down mid song to 110 BPM and slowly climbs back up to 170 BPM. I can guarantee the first players who saw that BPM change didn’t know how to read it – and probably broke combo, got misses, etc.
More common examples of the speed change is the half BPM speed change – like what is seen in Era. Usually it will stay there for a few seconds and then pick up “normal speed” again. More difficult examples would be The Legend of Max and Bloodrush.
- Speed Change (Fake Out)
An example of a speed change fake-out is when you don’t need to change your scroll modifier to play the chart. There is only one part that speeds up – or slows down – and its usually on a freeze where it accelerates to double speed or more and goes back to “regular speed” before the arrows pick up again. Usually this fake out is either at the beginning or end of the song though.
- Stop/Hanging Stop
If you are not sure of what a stop is, if you have ever played a song, and the arrows stopped moving for a second, that is a stop. One of the first examples witnessed that involved a series of stops is the song So Fabulous, So Fierce – featured on 7th Mix (DDR Max 2). The hanging stop is seen in the song Healing Vision Angelic Mix, where the stop occurs mid chart, and forces you to “hang on for the next beat”. New players often mess up the hanging stop.
A stutter is a series of layered stops which are spaced out evenly. At the same time, the BPM change increases when the first stutter stop passes, making the chart looking like it is “stuttering along”. Another version of this is when the BPM doesn’t change, but the arrows change their spacing… for instance, 16th notes (the yellow/green ones) are replaced with 32nd notes (brown ones).
- Low/ High BPM
Songs stayed between 120-200 BPM until 4th mix plus, where the boundaries of what was considered “low” and “high” BPM became stretched. Since speed modifiers did not exist yet, all charts were played on x1 speed. New low speeds of <100 BPM were first seen as well as 260 BPM (Drop Out). Now steady BPM has been put over 400 and under 60 – but these changes can be dealt with due to the ability to change speed modifiers.
The mines themselves are not a gimmick – rather the placement of mines can be seen as a gimick, forcing the player to step in the middle, turn, or hit a hand with precision in order to avoid hitting the mines. In some extreme cases, such as Vertex^2, the player must not get too much off beat or risk hitting the mines – this is becaues they are placed directly under arrows in a very fast sequence. Other mine gimmicks are ones seen in Lemmings on the Run, Go 60 Go, and Hardcore of the North, where the player must understand the alternating pattern of mines and arrows or risk getting a miss as well as hitting a mine.
Rolls, like mines, are not gimmicks in themselves, but how they are layered can create a gimmick. When rolls are layered together in close order, it can be confusing for a player to figure out how to keep all the rolls going.
Once again, hands in themselves are not gimmicks – how they are placed can create a gimmick. When hands are placed in a rapid sequence, the player is forced to hit the hands without using hands at all. The player must hit between two arrows (the bracket) to successfully hit the hand (whether its a three note hand or a four note hand [a quad]). Doing this correctly becomes important especially if mines are laced within the layered hands (or just after the hand). Several edit charts have been created where there are hand sequences that can not be hit with hands at all. A simple example of this is the chart for Welcome to Rainbow.
- Negative BPM
Negative BPM, in its simplest explanation, is a programming glitch that was first found in Stepmania that carried over into ITG. When a person is writing a chart, they can move the BPM into a negative number (like -120). By doing this, it causes the chart to jump to a position. There are several ways that this is used to create a gimmick: by layering mines that “turn into notes”, By layering notes that “turn into mines”, putting in what appears to be really hard steps and using negative BPM to “jump the sequence”, advancing it to a simpler pattern, and so on.
When negative BPM is used and it is placed to skip over arrows, those arrows are not counted to score (but do not affect your life). When you finish playing the song, your score will seem lower than what it should be – this is because you did not hit the arrows that were skipped over, so the machine grades you incompletely. The same grading effect happens if a song suddenly cuts off on R23 because it is too long – giving an incomplete score.