Want Dance Dance Revolution On Your Computer? Try StepMania

Danny Stieben 31-10-2013

Forget karaoke or game titles like “Just Dance” — the best way to make fun of yourself and exercise has always been playing “Dance Dance Revolution.” If you’re one of the people who absolutely loved it, then it might be a bummer that it’s difficult to get an authentic setup going in your own home. However, it may be a lot easier than you think with the help of StepMania, especially if you already have a dance pad.


About StepMania

StepMania is an open source rhythm game similar to Dance Dance Revolution, where you try to match one of four different steps on beat with a song. Because of its open source nature, it’s available on all platforms. The best part about the game is not just the mechanics or the design, but rather the amount of supported inputs. With StepMania, you can use a keyboard, joystick, and rhythm game input devices including dance pads (and maybe toy guitars) with a PC-compatible connector like USB.

Installation and Songs

StepMania is easily downloadable from their website for Windows and Mac OS X users, Ubuntu users can install it from the PlayDeb repository, and all other Linux users will need to compile the game. Once downloaded, you’ll also want to download some songs from their website so that you have them to play with.

Adding just the song (in .ogg format, for which you may be interested in an OGG converter OggConvert: Easily Convert Proprietary Formats Like MP3 Into Free Formats Like OGG [Linux] Sadly enough, the famous MP3 format for music is a proprietary product, and all devices which can play them have (or at least should have) a license to legally play them. In order to make... Read More ) isn’t good enough, because the game doesn’t automatically generate steps but instead reads them from another file. This is also necessary because the game has multiple difficulty levels with varying amounts of steps, respectively.

All songs which you can download should be in a .smzip format, which is essentially a StepMania zip folder which contains the song, the StepMania data file, and various images that will be displayed when browsing for songs to attempt.

The best place to look for songs to play is at the StepMania collection. The collection is great because each song also offers a stripped down online demo for the song so you can see approximately what to expect with the song. Songs can be installed by following these instructions.



When you start a song, you have a few modes to choose from. These include normal, “rave” which is two-player mode, “extended” where it plays multiple songs in series before finally giving you a break, a mysterious “oni” mode that is meant to test your skills, and an endless mode for never-ending fun. Once you’ve chosen one, you can select which song you’d like to use, where hovering over each song will play a sample snippet.


The game offers plenty of settings for you to mess with so that it can tailor to your exact needs. Besides supporting many different input devices, you can customize literally everything you could possibly want. This is especially useful for you to configure which keys or buttons need to be mapped as each serious player will have his or her own preferences. Just to give you an idea, the preferences categories alone include: calibrate audio sync, select game, config key/joy mappings, test input, input options, reload songs/courses, arcade options, appearance options, theme options, graphics/sound options, profiles, network options, UI options, and advanced options. Essentially, if there’s a setting that you’re looking for that the game doesn’t have, then I’d be very surprised.


StepMania is absolutely fun if you put enough practice into the game so that you’re good at it. The best thing is that, not only is it easy to get and use, but it’s meant for casual players as well as very serious ones. There are leaderboards for high scores where players can try to be the best in their country or even the world. I had a friend a few years back who was in the top 10 in the country, and it was easy to tell that it took a lot of time for him to get that good. All I could say after watching him was, “Oh, that poor keyboard.”

Anyways, if you have enough songs loaded into StepMania, it could become the party game among your friends. If not, there’s three other open source music games 4 Completely Free Cross-Platform Music Games So Guitar Hero is dead, or so say publishers Activision. Rockband is the last remaining "band sim" for your console, and after bitterly disappointing sales of Rockband 3 it probably won't last long either. There's... Read More you may be interested in!


For other great games, check out our Best Linux Games page!

Do you enjoy StepMania or Dance Dance Revolution? How easy has it been for you to connect niche input devices for specific games, such as a dance pad for StepMania? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. Joel L
    October 31, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    Oh wow. I spent hours playing this game back in college, lots and lots of fun. Highly recommended for fans of the time-sync genre!