Pump it up!

In the late 1990’s a shift in video games occurred. In the 1980’s it was pretty much established that video games were to be played with a hand held controller. The shift occurred as video game technology changed. Games home games went to 3D, and were still primarily being played with a controller, but the coin operated games started needing a gimmick to be worth spending lots of money in an arcade. (Afterall, why would anyone pay good money to play a game in the arcade instead of waiting a few months to buy the home version, which they can play for free?)

So, what kinds of gimmicks started to be prominent?
Well, the first type were the gun games. These actually were not new, as gun games had been made since the 1970’s. But as graphical technology increased, the 3D realism of the gun games made them popular.

And then Japanese arcades became noisier...

Next, there were the music games. Here, the player had to have rhythm to perform a set of actions based on music. There were dancing games, band games, DJ games, and all sorts of games requiring manipulation of a musical instrument-like controller. Here, we will be mainly concerned with the dancing games.
Dancing games?
Konami hit it big with Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) in 1998. In this game, the player must step on the correct spot on a floorpad at the right time, matching the rhythm of the music. The songs in the game weren’t new songs; most were once popular in the 1970’s and 1980’s. This game spawned many many sequels, with new songs and higher difficulty with each release.
Wait, isn’t KONAMI Japanese? What does this have to do with Korea?
Fair question. With the success of DDR, Korean video game companies wanted to create a version for the Korean market. DDR was definitely first, but it used mostly English language pop music, which seemed appropriate for most markets. It also did pretty well in Korea, but Korean game companies wanted to seize the opportunity to make a version of DDR with K-pop. Given that DDR itself was made in Japan, there was probably no chance that Konami would bother to make a K-pop version of DDR. So the Korean companies (Nexcade and Andamiro to be specific) took matters into their own hands and created a Korean version themselves, and “Pump it Up!” was born.

And Korean ones became even noisier

...and then Korean arcades became even noisier!

Well, yes, and no. The concept is exactly the same. Players have to step on the correct spot on the floor pad in rhythm, to the music. But, there are some who believe that “Pump it Up!” is actually better than DDR, thus an improvement. There are several differences.
What are those?

Well, for one, DDR has only 4 spots to touch (Up, Down, Left, and Right, arranged in a + shape). Pump has 5 spots (Front left, Front right, center, Back left, Back right, arranged in an x shape). Simply having more places to touch made the game different.

Next, Pump’s music was all fairly recent, and performed by the original artist. Heck, I even learned about some artists that I wouldn’t have otherwise heard of because of Pump. DDR had familiar songs, but they were almost always performed by cover bands.

Finally, Pump was released for home play a lot earlier than DDR was, and could be played on any PC. DDR was finally released, but ony for the Sony Playstation. In some markets (more than just Korea), Pump actually outshone DDR and was the more popular game. Konami later released different versions of DDR with original music, and with Korean music, but the Korean market was already flooded with Pump.

Today, these games aren’t as popular as they used to be, but in any Korean arcade you can find the latest version of “Pump it Up!”. DDR is nowhere to be found.

Here’s a video of some insane Pump players.


16 Responses to “Pump it up!”

  1. wow……… i haven’t seen people play on pump for years.

  2. In the last years and right now, Pump it Up and DDR are so famous here in Italy especially between people who love breakdance! I’ve heard about a new Pump it Up called Pump it Up FIESTA which is having success.
    It’s strange to see how fashion comes and goes.

    There’s a Mexican flag at the end of the video! Gisela will be happy 😉

  3. man, i remember when the Pump It Up at D&B had a crowd around it and there was a line of people waiting to play! and you would actually start recognizing the regulars and the ones who were good at it…. wow…

    my friend made me play because she wanted someone to play with while she was trying to improve so she could keep up with her now-husband. haha, she wasn’t too happy when i started beating her instead.

  4. A few years ago, I heard about the pump it up was popular in Mexico. So they imported those items which were used from Korea.
    I remember when I played this game in my friend’s apartment, a resident who lived downstairs came up and complained. Because we made some pounding noise. 🙂

  5. Moon Hye Ji Says:

    Wow~ “pump” exist every game station.
    I enjoy it, whenver I am stressed about work, food..
    The thing I am surprised at is updated daliy.
    So, it has many lastest K-pop!

  6. I’ll be honest, a video game that was never my thing, but it Pump it up, or dance to the table much less, I’ve never been coordinating follow my two left feet for that, but I defend myself well on the Xbox, on the other , the video game industry is getting bigger in spite of the instability of the global economy they are getting new games and consoles every year

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