Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar; you’re in the midst of an intense song when the game starts telling you that you’re missing steps. You’re hitting the motions correctly and you’ve completely mastered the game in the Arcade so you know it’s not you. That’s when you look down and see that your mat has shifted beneath you, throwing your entire game out of whack. You take the time to smooth out the mat and orient it so that it’s even with your television, but it’s too late, the song’s already over and announcer has taken the opportunity to tell the entire world how big of a loser you are. People have gone to great lengths to remedy this situation, even going so far as to nail their dance mats to pieces of wood to stabilize the base. I’m all into home improvement and working with my hands, but I’m not exactly amped about nailing my old dancepad to a piece of wood. I mean seriously, there has to be a better solution than this.
And there is.
My girlfriend told me that her old roommate used to have two Red Octane Ignition
dance pads and that she never ran into any problems when using them. I decided to test the myth by getting one for review and after just a few minutes with the pad, I could see where she was coming from. The Red Octane Dance Pad
is not just the best dance pad available in its class, it’s also one of the best dance pads ever made. It is able to do what so many competitors are unable to do, provide gamers with an affordable solution that performs well and stands up to the normal wear and tear of casual use. Sure the $110 price tag might look pricey now, but if you’re a DDR fan, it’s well worth every penny.
When you open up the box you’ll get the vinyl pad and what appears to be a gigantic jigsaw puzzle. Using a simple number system, you piece the puzzles together to form a solid surface that rests beneath the dance mat. Unzip the mat, place the puzzle inside of it, zip it up and you’re ready for action. Before I tried out the game I couldn’t resist stepping on the pad to see how it compared to my old Konami pad. From the beginning I could feel the quality underneath my feet; the solid base recreates the feel of the arcade game and the feel of the pad against my feet was smooth and rich. To take things a step further, the actual arrows that you can step on are elevated and have a more solid feel to them. When your feet make contact with them you’ll actually feel a satisfying amount of resistance, indicating that you scored a clean hit. As a latent bonus, the pad also provides excellent arch support so that your feet don’t hurt after extended amounts of play. Wisely, the contacts reside on the surface of the mat as opposed to the little puzzle pieces. This allows people who like the soft pad feel to remove the padding and play without all of the hard resistance.Of course this was all before I actually got into the game, the real test would be when I let my girlfriend take the pad out for a few rounds. After playing through the first song she informed me that she felt a significant improvement in the performance and feel of the pad. The solid base gave her more stability while the raised arrows ensured that she would make clean contact each and every time. I decided to try out the pad for myself and I could instantly feel the improvement. I’m not exactly adept at DDR so I tend to drag my feet across the mat instead of making clean and precise steps. This is one of the primary factors that causes the mat to crumple up beneath me, forcing the contacts to overlap and causing the pad to go haywire. I’ve reviewed four DDR games before DDR Extreme
and this is happened to me with every single pad I’ve had. But this all changed with the Red Octane pad, I never ran into any problems and the mat remained stationary throughout the duration of my playing time. In fact, the pad actually made me a much better player because the raised steps helped guide me through the experience.
And if you’re like me you’ll see instant results. Before this pad arrived, I had trouble keeping up with my girlfriend, but afterwards I was able to gain some decent scores on the standard setting which was a huge improvement. Also, the pad is a bit larger than most of the competing products. This is a huge blessing if you have huge feet like me. With the other pads, my feet kept inadvertently hitting the arrows when I was trying to stand in the middle of the pad. It got to the point where I actually had to stand off to the side of the pad when selecting a song because the mat would go haywire. I never ran into this problem with the RO Pad because there was enough space for me to stand on without inadvertently hitting the contacts.
Previously the DDR games have been relegated to the PS2 and PSOne, but Konami has started to cater to the Xbox crowd in recent years. To accommodate this addition, the Red Octane pad is multi-platform and works with the PS2 and
the Xbox. This is an excellent design decision that’s practical and provides you more bang for your buck. You won’t have to deal with multiple cords either; the device features one long cord that splits off into two connectors, one for the PS2 and one for the Xbox. As another nice addition, the pad retains the two slots found on the Xbox controller. This allows you to retain the memory card and headset functionality without having to plug in a second controller.
I received my review unit directly from Red Octane, but you can purchase the pad at most GameStop stores around the nation. The local one here in Rancho Cucamonga stocks them while the one over in Montclair has a fairly large supply of them as well. I also remember seeing them over at the GameStop over in San Francisco at the Serra Monte mall. With that said, the pad is pretty much available all over the country so you won’t have any difficulties finding it at retail outlets. If you live out in the boonies, like in Ashland, Ore. you can still order the pad online if you choose but I have a feeling that the mall over in Medford stocks them as well.
After you see the price tag you’ll probably start questioning whether or not it’s really worth the price. The same notion popped up into my head until this situation played itself out in my head; every time I take my girlfriend to the Arcade she spends 75 cents to play three songs (50 cents if I’m lucky) and she generally plays about three or four rounds. Let’s say we go to the Arcade three times a week, that’s about $36 a month on average. After three months of wasting quarters I would have enough money to purchase another dance pad. Sure you’re paying more for the Red Octane pad than you would for the competitor’s pads, but this is a situation where you really get what you pay for. If you ask us it’s a true no-brainer; buying the Red Octane Pad is like getting the luxury of a Rolls Royce for the price of a Honda Civic. It’s a true steal and a must-have for any true DDR fan.