Greetings! First, a little background on me and who I am: I’ve been with the dance game scene for a long time. I was one of the first people to start playing in South Florida when it was first received in Grand Prix Race-O-Rama in September of 2000 before it was purchased and rebranded as Boomers! of Dania Beach. So I have had time to thoroughly play almost all of the music and rhythm games that have tried to make a name for themselves over the years. Fifteen years later, the two that are still prominent are Dance Dance Revolution by Konami and Pump It Up by Andamiro.

I have noticed a resurgence of PIU machines lately. I started making the switch myself from 4 panel dance games to 5 panel dance games back in 2007 when I realized machine owners/operators were clueless about how to repair DDR machines and why they should do so. For some reason, the PIU owner/operators seem to understand it needs regular maintenance So, I decided to help those intimidated by 5 panels to give it a go by writing this article. First…

THINK OF IT AS A NEW GAME

Yes I know. It’s still a dance game with very similar concepts as DDR, but you can’t treat it like that for a few reasons. For starters, the panels are in the opposite locations where they would be in DDR in addition to them being larger. Since the panels are in different areas in PIU, your brain will try to treat it like it’s still DDR in which case you’ll fail to learn. You can’t expect to learn toplay a game if you approach it assuming you know a lot about it. Especially when…PIU_Song

THERE MIGHT NOT BE ANY FRONT PANEL BUTTONS

Most of the older PIU machines lack buttons on the front panel to scroll through and select your songs. You should use the blue arrows to scroll left and right and the red arrows on top to go back. The center panel is your confirmation button. Speed modifications are administered a variety of ways. Since the more recent versions of PIU, you can access the modifications menu by pressing left and right four times. As for the song selection, you’ll have to keep in mind that…PIU_Pad

THE RATING SYSTEM IS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT

Up until the reboot of the series named Dance Dance Revolution (older versions are typically referred to as mixes such as DDR 1st Mix), songs were rated on how difficult it was to read the arrows scrolling up using the default settings (no speed mods, arrow color changes, etc). Konami introduced speed modifiers starting with DDR 6th Mix (also known as DDRMAX). At this time, they attempted to change the rating system by introducing a Groove Radar which did away with the whole number rating system (1 for easiest and 9 for most difficult). However, this was met with resistance from fans and veterans of the game. So, Konami went back to the number rating system in DDR 7th Mix (DDRMAX2) while keeping the Groove Radar. Andamiro took a different approach. They rated their songs with a numering system that is based on how hard the songs actually are; a novel concept. With each version of PIU, the previous version’s hardest song would remain the same rating with a new song or two (or five) one to four levels harder than that. This continued up until about PIU Zero where some songs dropped or raised in thier reported difficulty rating. This still continues as Andamiro reexamines all of the songs’ reported difficulty. While on the subject of songs…

THERE ARE NO COLORS TO DIFFERENTIATE TIMING

Konami programmed DDR so that arrows that fall on differnt beats have slightly different color changes to indicate this. Andamiro feels you don’t need those and never did this in PIU. The only colors are the colors of the arrows as they are on the pad. So you have to rely on your fantastic reading skills to figure out what the timing is between steps. If you don’t have those skills yet, now is a good time to build them! But, while you’re doing that, you should also be aware that…PIU_Screen

SONGS PAST LEVEL 8 CAN BE BRUTAL

As in DDR, songs level 8 and higher can be somewhat difficult. Andamiro decided that their songs past level 7 should start to prepare you for songs in levels 14 and higher. I strongly suggest you learn step patterns and crossovers very well in levels 7 and lower before jumping to 8 and beyond because they are unforgiving. If DDR makes you work, PIU will make you put in overtime. Yeah. This isn’t your mother’s dancing game.

In closing, I’d like to say that, while learning PIU can be a challenge, it’s so much more rewarding once you hit certain milestones. I would also argue that you burn more calories playing PIU because of how you have to turn your body while playing. Sure, you can double step if you want to, but that won’t help you when you have to hit two and three arrows in the middle of a run. How do you do that? Simple, use one foot to hit two panels at once. If the Koreans can do it with no problem, so can you!

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