New Konami dance arcade game “ShuffleDancerz” (formerly STEPSTAR) – Location Test Report

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On July 7, Konami surprised the world with an unannounced location test of a new arcade dance game, “STEPSTAR” (details here). After a few weeks, it’s back, with a new name – “ShuffleDancerz”

Mostly unchanged from the previous location test, the game is somewhat like an easier version of DanceEvolution, much more geared toward a casual crowd and not hardcore BEMANI fans.

Gameplay:

In ShuffleDancerz, the are 4 types of “notes” or step markers. Step, Long (keep holding the note), Jump, and Crouch/Squat/Down (lower your center of gravity). The gameplay works similar to most music games in which there are notes falling onscreen towards a judgement line. When the notes overlap the line, you step! Simple, right? But wait, there are also some slide notes. All of these together can be a little bit difficult to pull off perfectly, especially with the game’s input.

It’s currently using a set of IR sensors (a la DJ MAX TECHNIKA) around the main stage’s floor panel to determine your foot placement on both an X-and-Y coordinate system. Unfortunately this means that playing with loose shoes or sandals is nearly impossible, and you need to be careful about where you step. Timing is a bit difficult due to this.

When playing with 2 players, 1P stands in front, and reacts to orange notes, while 2P is behind them, with blue notes. While very fun, it seems like the hardware can’t reliably support the input, but this should be fixed. Nearby, a monitor played a really cool promotional video for the game, and showed two professionals enjoying 2-person play. There are various notes that must be hit simultaneously, and the step choreography seems pretty fun.

Videos & Recording:

Similar to maimai and the unreleased Otoiroha, the game gives you an option to record your gameplay, and  apply various artistic filters to it. There’s also an option to cover the upper half of the video frame (useful for hiding your face), and you have the option to upload it to YouTube later, via the game’s website and a 4-digit PIN you set per upload (after gameplay). Only 5 songs are uploadable as of the latest test. The game has two modes – Basic and Full. In Basic mode, you can play two songs, and record 30-second clips of the gameplay, to upload. In Full mode, you can record the entire length of ONE song.

After entering your PIN, and logging in with your Google/YouTube account, you’re given the option to set the video to Public, Unlisted, or Private. You can also set the video’s title and description here, although it’s pre-filled by default. The uploads are small, and doesn’t take much time at all, but the video quality is pretty good, and audio is excellent.

 

Song List:

LADY / ちゃんみな (4/6)
MEGA SHAKE IT !
 / キュウソネコカミ (3/9)
Revolution / BRADIO (4/7)*
SKY’s the limit / ぼくのりりっくのぼうよみ (3/6)
Summer Venus / KEYTALK (2/6)
Without You / 夜の本気ダンス (2/5)
女々しくて / ゴールデンボンバー (1/4)*
ハッピーシンセサイザ / EasyPop (5/6)*
オンリーワンダー / フレデリック (6/8)*
君と野獣 / バンドハラスメント (3/5) *
サイレントマジョリティー / 欅坂46 (1/4)
制服のマネキン / 乃木坂46 (1/4)

*YouTube uploading OK

Cabinet Details:

  • Slim and flat, very similar to Pump It Up CX cabinets, but completely vertical.
  • Recording Camera (Kinect?) and additional sensors(?) above and below the large screen (40″?) (the sensors seem to be used for the [Squat] notes.
  • Similar Up/Down/Left/Right/Start button layout to DDR (white cabinet)
  • Two eAMUSEMENT Pass readers on each side, and two 10-key numpads.
  • Space between cabinet and dance floor for luggage, etc.
  • Dance floor is slightly recessed to accommodate the IR sensors and LEDs around the edge, size is a little bit larger than one DDR pad.

Game Details:

  • Theme: Dark and cool. Similar to the promotional posters, techno/EDM-like. Lots of “cool” visual flair.
  • Announcer: Female, present in menus, but not during gameplay. There ARE some sound effects during gameplay, when you hit a note.
  • Difficulty: 1-9, no names. The easier charts are colored Light Blue, and harder ones are yellow.
  • Options: Speed Modifiers are present and range from 0.5x to 9.5x, in (.5) increments. The default is 1.0x. You choose this before starting the song, but can also adjust it during the song by pressing Up or Down on the Directional Buttons.
  • Gameplay Screen: Similar to Chunithm and SDVX, notes fall from the back and center of the screen toward the judgement line at the bottom/front. Most songs featured their official music videos in the background, although they were very darkly-filtered.
  • Notes: Color-coded by player, and L/R icons to indicate recommended feet. Of course, you can use either foot you want.
  • PERFECT / GREAT / GOOD / BAD judgement (timing is pretty loose, but not Pump loose. It’s a good mix of strict and casual)
  • Grading: 1-5 stars (☆☆☆☆☆ = 950,000+ Score, MAX 1m)

Location Test Details:

  • Location: ROUND 1 – Yokohama Station West Exit Shop
  • 200yen / 1 play (400yen 2 players), PASELI OK
  • Photos: NOT ALLOWED.

Impressions and Summary:

While it’s music-based, it’s not a “hardcore BEMANI” title. In fact, the BEMANI logo isn’t on any fliers, and apparently not on the cabinet itself either. The game’s excellent English catch copy is:

Dance to the music with cool steps! The stage reads your steps, the sensors catch your groove. Dance smoothly, and make your original video! 

The game is definitely geared to a more casual crowd (like, groups of students) with its simplistic gameplay, colorful camera effects, and smartphone-friendly vertical YouTube uploads. The location testing in Osaka and Yokohama placed the cabinet in a very visible location where many young people pass by and gather every day. The game is more about having fun and enjoying some freestyle moves (or anything, really), then uploading and sharing it with your friends. We’re hoping it does well. I, for one, would definitely play it again, especially with two players.

Check out some more videos on YouTube using the #SFDZ hashtags, and our picks here: