What Is Beatmania IIDX
This entry was derived from the Wikipedia entry on beatmania IIDX, which may or may not be more up to date than this one.
beatmania IIDX (alternately beatmaniaIIDX or just IIDX, pronounced "two dee-ecks") is a series of rhythm video games introduced by Konami in 1999. It is the direct sequel to the beatmania game series, and part of the Bemani line of music games.
beatmania IIDX controls consist of seven (instrument) keys (four white, three black) along with one turntable on each player's side. The turntable for the left player's side, 1Player, is on the left of the keys, while the one on the right player's side, 2Player, is on the right.
Under the 16:9 wide display are the start button, the effector button, and effector sliders. After beatmaniaIIDX 9th style, there is also a cardreader, in order to use the magnetic card of e-AMUSEMENT. In 9th style, the effector no longer operates, but it has been revived in 10th style with modified slide switch function. Different versions of the game are traditionally referred to as 'styles', with higher numbers being the most recent machines. The series currently reaches from the first style produced all the way to 10th style. According to GOLI, 10th style was the last IIDX series with an "n-th style". beatmania IIDX 11: IIDX RED became the first IIDX series with a theme and title, followed by beatmania IIDX 12: HAPPY SKY, and so forth. Each series produced has a different mix of songs from older styles and new songs, and has a different graphical 'theme'.
The main differences in hardware between the IIDX series and the original beatmania series are the presence of two extra keys, the wide screen and the more powerful speakers. This hardware difference was never actually intended to become the standard beatmania IIDX cabinet. Originally, Konami had planned to develop and release two different versions of arcade cabinets, a version similar to that of its predecessor beatmania and its ill-fated successor beatmania III, and a 'deluxe' cabinet with a 'DX' suffix on the end of the name. Konami scrapped the standard cabinet mid-development, but the 'DX' suffix stuck and has remained throughout the series.
Konami has also released home versions of the game, for the PlayStation 2 console. Eleven versions are available in Japan, while one is available in the US. The game is stored in a DVD media, and can be bought with a controller that matches the arcade version very closely. The controller's key insert is detachable, so the player may attach it as preferred on the left or the right side of the turntable. The home versions do not exactly match the arcade versions, but are very similar. To date, home versions of 3rd Style through IIDX13 DistorteD have been released in Japan; the US release is titled simply "Beatmania" and does not correspond to an arcade version at all.
The gameplay is still the same as in beatmania, with the addition of two extra keys: there are 8 columns on the screen, corresponding to each of the keys and the turntable. While playing, small horizontal bars fall straight through each of these columns, and the player must press the right key (or play the scratch) when the bar touches the bottom of the column, no sooner and no later. The correct timings for the notes follow the beat of the music, so the player has to have a very keen sense of rhythm.
Every time a key is pressed or the scratch is played, an instrument is played to complement the song. So, in order to hear the song correctly, the player must get the bars on the right timing. Additionally, the game shows a rating (flashing Great, Great, Good, Bad or Poor) for each falling bar that's played by the user.
The objective of the game is twofold: pass songs and get a good grade. Passing a song enables you to continue playing up to a three song limit, plus possible extra stages. Grade measures your performance and is used for ranking among players. The beatmania games are very peculiar in that passing a song and getting a good score on it are almost totally unrelated; one can theoretically pass a song with an F and fail with a AAA, although this is rare in practice.
During gameplay, the player gets performance feedback from two sources. One is a life bar (often referred to as the "groove gauge") at the bottom of the screen. The other is rating text in front of the falling notes. The life bar is increased moderately by flashing Greats and Greats, slightly by Goods, depleted somewhat by Bads and heavily by Poors; the emphasis is clearly on missing as few notes as possible. To pass a song, the life bar has to be at 80% or above at the end of a song. Consequently, the only thing that matters as far as passing a song is concerned is getting the ending right, and as such a lot of songs have a sudden jump in difficulty at the end to cause the player to lose that crucial top 20% of life and fail.
The difficulty of songs is measured in 'stars', however the system has not remained concrete. The newest styles often contain songs harder than the star system can accurately represent, and as such is constantly revised which each new style. Originally, the difficulty ratings ranged from one to seven "stars". In IIDX 5th style, a "flashing seven" difficulty debuted, although they would not actually flash until 6th style. IIDX 9th style introduced new difficulties by Level, in which "flashing 7's" are replaced with Level 7+. In 10th style, the maximum difficulty was raised from Level 7+ to Level 8. IIDX RED (beatmania IIDX 11: IIDX RED, the first IIDX series with an individual theme title) debuted Level 8+. As of beatmania IIDX 12: HAPPY SKY, the difficulty system was completely overhauled, and all songs are now rated on a scale of Level 1 to Level 12, Level 1 being the easiest, Level 12 being the most difficult.
Many players consider a pass to be rather arbitrarily determined, and so the usual focus is on getting as high a grade as possible. Grades (a feature that came about as of 6th style) are determined by the player's "EX Score", which is the number of Flashing Greats (also known as Just Great) times two plus the number of Greats. 8/9ths of the maximum or above yields a AAA, 7/9ths or above is a AA, and so on down to a minimum of F. Getting the maximum possible EX Score on a song(ie all Flashing Greats) is generally considered an unrealistic goal, if not impossible. Despite this, some very good players have been known to achieve this feat, albeit on some of the easier songs in the game.
beatmania IIDX has long been a 'cult' game because of the sheer learning curve of the game for new players, unlike other Bemani games like Dance Dance Revolution. The machine is often found in Japanese arcades, but they are rare in American arcades with absolutely none at all in the United Kingdom.
- This mode was added in 9th style (5th style for home version). In the arcade, Beginner limits the list of songs available to only 1-3 star songs, thus severely limiting the number of songs available in a game. In the home versions, Beginner gives an alternate note chart for nearly all songs, rated from 1-3. These alternative note charts are not available in the arcade.
- As of IIDX 11: RED, Beginner Mode's charts are all 1-Star and are impossible to fail out of.
- LIGHT7 / NORMAL
- This mode is a degree of difficulty lower than 7KEYS. On LIGHT7, the game will not end if you fail the first stage. Before 8th style, it was possible to attain the extra stage by playing in this mode. You may play the 7KEYS difficulty for a song by holding down the VEFX button when selecting the song.
- In IIDX 12: HAPPY SKY, this difficulty was renamed "Normal".
- 7KEYS / HYPER
- This is the standard play mode. When a fixed condition is satisfied on the last song, you can get an extra stage.
- In IIDX 12: HAPPY SKY, this difficulty was renamed "Hyper"
- Most players will agree this is the hardest mode by far. The key configuration and 'charts' are similar to that of 7KEYS, but are often harder and not as straight forward. Even if you can complete a song on 7KEYS, you may not even be able to get too far on ANOTHER. To play a song on ANOTHER, you must select 7KEYS from the menu and then select the song while holding down the VEFX button. Songs in ANOTHER difficulty were not given separate difficulty ratings in IIDX 1-11, which was often misleading as the difficulty meter showed the same rating as the 7KEYS variation. As of IIDX 12: HAPPY SKY, songs in ANOTHER difficulty were given a separate rating. Not every song has an ANOTHER version. Some tracks have an Another that sounds different from the original song.
- Replaced in 3rd Style by LIGHT7, this was intended as a beginner-friendly mode that used only the four white keys. Available only on 1st, Substream, and 2nd style.
- Available for home versions as a specific mode, this plays exactly as 7KEYS, except for the idea that the last two keys farthest from the turntable are not used. This is probably a compatibility issue with original beatmania controllers, so that owners of the original could still somewhat play beatmania IIDX, only having the 5-key controller at hand. In arcade versions of IIDX, 5KEYS has been available from the start as a special gameplay option, most likely as an attempt to help players of the original series make the transition. Starting with 7th style AC (and 10th style CS), 5KEYS can be used with notecharts other than the ordinary 7KEYS mode.
- This mode is one in which you can play a course of songs in a row without stopping. You start with the gauge at its maximum; if it drops to 0, the game is over. The gauge is the same as that used in Hard mode in normal play, but drops at a much slower rate.
- CLASS / DAN / Step Rank Recognition
- This is basically the same as EXPERT, but as for options, you can only select HI-SPEED, and each course has four songs. The combination of songs differs for every difficulty, which is the difference between this and EXPERT.
- Practice mode. You can play to the end of a song and won't fail, but you get one song less than if you were to play LIGHT7 or 7KEYS. (Usually, you'd get 3 songs if you played LIGHT7 or 7KEYS; you only get 2 with FREE.)
Furthermore, when DOUBLE is selected in the options selection screen before the game starts, "7" changes to "14", and you use both sides to play.
- In Autoscratch, the turntable is played automatically, not requiring player input. In home versions, scores are not recorded with this modifier activated, since it affects the EX Score requirements for each grade.
- Hi-Speed increases the scroll rate of the note chart. It is important to point out that the actual notes do not have to be pressed any more quickly; the scroll speed is simply increased and the notes become further apart. Most beatmania IIDX players use High Speed to make the notes easier to read. Most versions of beatmania IIDX have more than one High Speed setting, differentiated by numbers (a higher number means a faster speed.) The High Speed modifier is traditionally abbreviated HS with the number immediately following. For example, High Speed 2 is abbreviated HS2. In styles from IIDX 13 - DistorteD AC and IIDX 11 - IIDX RED CS onward, the player is able to change High Speeds during actual gameplay. Starting on IIDX HAPPY SKY and 10th Style CS Hi-Speed options moved to .5 intervals ranging from no speed to Hi-Speed 4 or 5.
- On Easy, the gauge does not decrease as quickly and rises faster than usual.
- On Hard, the gauge functions differently. It begins at 100%, and the song will immediately end if it reaches 0% (but on the other hand, you will pass if you simply reach the end of the song without failing partway). The gauge decreases very fast in this mode, as much as 10% for every missed note. Bads and extraneous hits cost 6%, as much as a missed note without Hard. However, the gauge rises by 0.16% for each Great or better, and stays unchanged for Goods. Ironically, the Hard modifier is known to make certain songs with difficult ending sections easier to clear. The Hard gauge was slightly altered in beatmania USA, 10th Style, and HAPPY SKY, to make the penalties less harsh when the gauge is below 30%.
- On Random, the song's notechart is temporarily altered. All the notes for each key are assigned to another key, picked at random. It should be noted that this is done on a per-key and not a per-note basis, so for instance an alternating sequence of two keys would still be on two keys (but probably not the same two keys as before). Random can make songs with many scale-type maneuvers easier. Note that only the keys are randomised; scratches are not affected.
- Random+, introduced in IIDX 11 - IIDX RED AC (8th CS), is like Random, except that the scratch column is included in the randomisation process, so the scratches usually end up assigned to a key, and a key gets assigned to the scratch. This modifier usually completely changes the character of the note chart, so scores obtained using this modifier are not recorded.
- S-Random, introduced in IIDX 12 - HAPPY SKY AC, is like Random, except that this is done on a per-note basis. S-Random has been available on CS versions since 10th CS (Where it had to be unlocked, on RED and later it's selectable by default), but scores were considered invalid and were not recorded until IIDX 12 HAPPY SKY CS.
- Samurai S-Random, introduced in IIDX 12 - HAPPY SKY AC (IIDX 10th CS), is similar to S-Random in that notes are changed on a per-note basis, however "jackhammer" patterns (repeated presses on the same key) will not occur. The option is available to those players who have cleared 10th Dan on IIDX 12 HAPPY SKY, and unlocked in IIDX 10th CS by highlighting any song in the NEW MUSIC folder starting with the letter "S" then pressing select, any new song starting with the letter "R" then pressing select, then highlighting any new song starting with the letter "A" then pressing select, and finally highlighting any new song starting with the letter "N" then pressing select. The "new song" requirement is not present in versions following 10th CS. The song select sound clip and another sound clip from 1st Samurai should play signifying the option has been unlocked. The S-Random option will now be Samurai S-Random. Since Happy Sky CS does not have any songs that start with "N", songs with artist names starting with these letters must be used. This must be repeated after every time the game is shut down. As with the other special randoms, Samurai S-Random changes the character of the chart, so scores and clears obtained using it are not recorded.
- Mirror flips the note layout so, for example, all notes that would normally correspond to the extreme left-hand key now correspond to the extreme right-hand key, and so forth.
- Mirror+, introduced in 9th style CS, is like Mirror, except the scratch column is included. Like Random+, scores obtained using this modifier are not recorded.
- On Sudden, notes only become visible when they enter the lower portion of the screen. The visible portion is approximately a third of the screen. It can be enabled at the same time as Hidden, causing the notes to briefly blink in the middle of their respective lanes.
- Sudden+, introduced in IIDX 12 - HAPPY SKY AC, is like Sudden, except configurable by the user. The user may hold down the Start button during play and spin the turntable to change the portion of the play field that is covered from the top down. From IIDX 13 - DistorteD AC and IIDX 11 - IIDX RED CS onward, the player may show and hide the portion of the screen covered by the Sudden+ modifier at any time during gameplay by tapping the start button twice.
- On Hidden, notes are only visible in the upper portion of the screen (again, approximately a third of the screen). It can be enabled at the same time as Sudden, causing the notes to briefly blink in the middle of their respective lanes.
- Hidden+, introduced in IIDX 12 - HAPPY SKY AC, is like Hidden, except user configurable. The user may hold down the Start button during play and spin the turntable to change the portion of the play field that is covered from the bottom up. From IIDX 13 - DistorteD AC and IIDX 11 - IIDX RED CS onward, the player may show and hide the portion of the screen covered by the Hidden+ modifier at any time during gameplay by tapping the start button twice.
- HIDSUD+, introudced in IIDX 12 - HAPPY SKY AC, is like Sudden & Hidden, except user configurable. The user may hold down the Start button during play and spin the turntable to change the portion of the play field that is covered from both the top down and bottom up. From IIDX 13 - DistorteD AC and IIDX 11 - IIDX RED CS onward, the player may show and hide the portion of the screen covered by the HIDSUD+ modifier at any time during gameplay by tapping the start button twice.
- 2P FLIP, introduced in IIDX 13 - DistorteD AC, swaps the notecharts for each player's side of the screen. DP FLIP is the same as 2P FLIP, except it is activated during doubles mode. This modifier is also available in CS versions since IIDX RED, although scores obtained with the modifier are saved only in HAPPY SKY CS.
- In 7th AC (9th CS), 5KEYS became a selectable modifier in the main game, rather than a separate game mode. In this mode, the two rightmost keys are not used by the player and any notes that would correspond to those keys do not need to be played. In IIDX 15 - DJ TROOPERS (IIDX 13 - DistorteD CS), the 5KEYS modifier uses keys 3-7 instead of 1-5 when playing on the Player 2 side.
- Introduced as a secret modifier in IIDX 14 GOLD, REGUL-SPEED negates the effect of tempo changes by setting the scroll speed to a constant 150 BPM. The player can then select an appropriate Hi-Speed mod accordingly. To enable this option, open the options menu by holding Start and press the keys "2-3-5-7-4-6". This constant scroll-speed setting is analogous to Stepmania's C-Mod, and standard gameplay settings in Guitar Freaks/Drum Mania as well as Guitar Hero. Scores obtained using this modifier are not recorded.