What does a Dance Dance Revolution player (or Pump It Up-er, if you’re a hipster) do when they’re sick of the cheap, fragile, plastic “dance mats” that slide all over the place? You know the kind – they ship with the game, there’s twenty differently skinned copies of the exact same product on eBay and Amazon, and they’re all… trash. Functional trash. They’re bad for your feet if you’re someone who plays on the harder difficulties, and they’ll wear out swiftly without proper treatment.
Enter our lovely third-party manufacturer, a company also tired of the cheap mats – tired enough that they provide a better option: DancePadMania.com.
DancePadMania sells a model of pad similar to the more common variety, though we’ve not gotten to try those out. Instead, we shot for the gold, and secured two of the crown jewel of their stock – the (admittedly generically named) Deluxe Pads. What makes these babies different?
At first glance, it appears that the deluxe models are just thicker (or curvier, if you’re politically correct). There’s a clear distinction in that they are more of a platform than their slimmer counterpart, with a zipper around the edge. This is because each pad ships with several large foam “puzzle pieces” which can be assembled inside the opened pad. This yields a few benefits.
1. Comfort. Instead of smacking your feet down into the floor with minimal cushioning, the foam inserts provide for much softer stepping, which matters exponentially more with harder step maps.
2. Durability. The sensors, which you definitely don’t want to break, are also pressed down against the foam, instead of into, again, minimal separation between themselves and the floor. Theoretically, this increases the pad’s lifespan.
3. Stability. These pads are significantly ore resistant to sliding. This is partially due to the superior friction of the deluxe’s underside, but also partially due to the physics of the heightened/heavier pad. I found, roughly, an 80% decrease in sliding when I compared the Dance Pad Mania deluxe units with the traditional stock pads that I’ve used for a decade.
Now, these are USB pads we are talking about – they’re simply not designed for use with, say, a Nintendo unit, and not necessarily optimized for Playstations or Xboxes. These are primarily designed for PC/Mac machines, for play with Stepmania and whatever other DDR emulator you can find. However, the recent PC release of indie rhythm game Crypt of the Necrodancer is easily playable with the pads as well, which opens up some interesting possibilities for the future – perhaps more music-based games designed for use with such peripherals?
At a sharp $80, you’re buying into quite the investment with the deluxe Dance Pad Mania unit – but given its benefits over the pads that you typically receive from third-party vendors, DDR and PIU gamers alike will find these units worth every penny.
Thanks to DancePadMania.com for providing us with promotional deluxe pads! These units in no way affected the integrity of the above review.