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Dance Dance “Immolation” Sets Dancers on Fire

Posted under News by Meredith Sweet on Friday, June 26th, 2009 -

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Some would say that Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution game, part of the Bemani (A portmanteau of “beat” and “mania,” in case you didn’t know) series of games, is indeed revolutionary. It spawned a whole cadre of “music and rhythm” games, encouraging folks to test their speed, stamina, and coordination (whether hand-eye or foot-eye), along with a number of spinoffs, bootleg versions, and home-brew games for personal computers.

Dance Dance Immolation, on the other hand, takes “home-brew” to a whole new level. The modified game, put together by fire arts group Interpretive Arson, rewards good performances by shooting flames up in the air. Miss a step and the flames shoot in your face.

No, I’m not kidding.

Dance Dance Immolation is a modified version of the arcade game Dance Dance Revolution, right down to the metal pads and rails that make up the dancing “stage.” Come game time, DDI’s splash screen and selection options are different from DDR, and the announcer is (occasionally) missing, but your favorite DDR songs are most likely there, from Petshop Boys’ “Go West” to Me & My’s “So Many Men.” Players watch the arrows on a projection screen much further away than your standard arcade cabinet would be from the stage, but considering there are two rigs of propane-fueled flamethrowers set up in front of your face, the distance is probably a good thing. Player One is also about six feet from Player Two, which means there’s no danger of you accidentally thwacking your dancing partner with your groovin’ moves.

I had the pleasure of playing DDI at The Crucible’s Fire Arts Festival in 2006 (That’s me getting suited up in the picture below), and I wish I could play again at this year’s festival, in Oakland, CA, where both Interpretive Arson and DDI are a staple. (ETA: Unfortunately, DDI is on its way across the ocean to Denmark for Smukfest, so Interpretive Arson will be featuring “2πr” in its place, another fire arts installation, though less connected to gaming.)

The Crucible, an industrial arts school in Oakland, calls itself a “non-profit collaboration of arts, industry, and community,” and their annual Fire Arts Festival is their largest fundraising event of the year, which “celebrates creativity through fire and light with a spectacular open-air exhibition of interactive fire art, performance and the largest collection of outdoor fire sculpture on the West Coast.” (Yes, bigger than Burning Man.)

To that end, there are numerous artistic groups like Interpretive Arson, but it’s specifically IA’s mission statement to “find interpretive ways to bring you and fire together.” In a good way, of course. And what better way to do that than by setting yourself on fire through dance?

Get ready to play Dance Dance Immolation

Playing DDI is very similar to playing the arcade version of DDR, but it’s certainly not the same. For one, you’re wearing a giant silver suit, called a proximity suit, or prox suit for short. That’s what prevents the you in the suit from catching on fire even when flames shoot directly into your face. You’re able to breathe despite all the smoke thanks to a superior-grade oxygen tank hooked up through the prox suit. Should you try DDI, you’ll probably feel a bit like an astronaut caught in the exhaust of a rocket.

While a lot of your favorite DDR songs are included, you can tell the IA team has modified the playlist a little bit (I’m always surprised when I don’t see more fire-related favorites, but then again, the playlist can change every day, never mind from one year to the next). It’s probably best if you have a handful of songs you’re willing to play so that if even one of them is on the list, you can select it right away (assuming your dancing partner isn’t a little trigger happy and chooses for you). Plus, even if you’re one of those “I can play everything on Heavy or Challenge mode!” kind of people, you might want to downgrade the difficulty level just a bit for the sake of DDI. See, playing in a heavy prox suit with an oxygen tube strapped to your back isn’t quite the same as playing in an air-conditioned arcade wearing your favorite jeans and t-shirt.

You can also choose from the standard options featured in the later DDR Games (I believe DDR Extreme is the arcade inspiration for DDI) if you really want to show off…or if you really want to get set on fire a lot. Keep in mind that the game is still controlled by an IA crewmember sitting in front of a laptop, so if you do too well, he or she might just set you on fire for the hell of it.

Whether you’re the sort that plays to get a AA or the sort that plays just to have fun (which I did, considering I was wearing four-inch heels and an uncomfortably hot turtleneck), play Dance Dance Immolation and you will sweat. DDI takes the concept of “Diet Diet Revolution” (or Workout Mode, if you’re new-school) and sets it on fire.

Gives whole new meaning to that song “Burnin’ Up The Floor,” doesn’t it?

Tickets to the 2009 Crucible’s Fire Arts Festival in Oakland, CA are available for sale from The Crucible website, or you can volunteer and get in free.

(Source: Interpretive Arson, The Crucible’s Fire Arts Festival)

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