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DDR Product Reviews

For the older reviews, just scroll down.
Written November, 2002
By Gabriel Ramuglia a.k.a. the FunkyWizard

Products Reviewed are from BuyNShop.com

BNS Ultra-DX DDR 1" thick foam pad

Cost: $46
Value = 9/10
Functionality = 9/10
Reliability = 8/10

Comes with PSX Pad and PC adapter cable

BNS Ultra-NX DDR pad with raised arrows

Cost: $24
Value = 9/10
Functionality = 7/10
Reliability = 7/10

Comes with PSX Pad and PC adapter cable

I got two buynshop.com pads in just in time for the last deathnet (deathnet is a computer and console gaming lan party held about every month at the university of alaska fairbanks). The ultra dx was totally the shit, the only thing better is the arcade. There is absolutly no comparison between the buynshop ultra dx and your standard "slip and slide" pads. It almost never moved, even for 7 foot songs (it moved just a wee bit for 8 and 9 foot songs, but not enough to throw you off when playing). Basically, the pad was rock solid on carpet. It was nice and cushy with the 1 inch of foam. The pads are not 100% as accurate as the arcade, but are much better than your average home pad. The cusion helps the pad more often recognize correctly that you've stepped on an arrow, but again, it still wasn't as sensitive as the arcade. I think it really means something though that you can compare this pad to the arcade. If I were instead to compare it to every other pad I've ever tried, this one would be hands down no contest the "rape the competition in the ass" champion. It was at least 3 times as good as my heavily modded cheap pad. That was when i duct taped an official konami dance pad to a cubicle wall divider and put little pieces of duct tape on each arrow (crinkled up) so you could feel where you were. This setup was the shit, but the new pad i got is 3 times better. Also, my modded out setup only lasted a couple months before the cubicle wall broke anyway.

We also got one of their cheaper pads, the ULTRA NX, which has the raised arrows but not as much cushioning, and although it was better than the slip and slide pads I am used to using, it was slightly disappointing. The raised arrows helped you know where you are, but like other pads, it wasn't 100% stable. This one slid around a little bit, but usually preferred to crinkle rather than slide. It is a good pad for anything up to 7 feet. For 8 and 9 feet, the pad just isn't good enough, but if you are a ddr newb, this pad will work great. I think there are some problems with the shipping methods of the less expensive pads, because it was folded a whole lot to fit into the little box it came in, and i couldn't really get the pad to flatten out when I took it out of the box, so the corners curled up a bit. Also, all that folding must not have been good for the circuitry, because about halfway through the first day, you kind of had to cajole the pad into recognizing start and circle buttons. After a while, the buttons settled back into working correctly, which was a relief. Since then, I have had no additional problems, but the edges of the pad still curl upwards. I've actually had other pads have button problems before as well, so this may simply be an inherent flaw in soft pads. For this reason, I would recommend the DX pad, since it came in a much larger box that only required minimal folding of the pad. Overal, the NX was still a good deal, but for my money, I would go with the DX.

Anyway, here's my breakdown of the pad situation:

If you want the cheapest pad you can get, expect to do some serious modding, involving lots of duct tape and plywood and some other shit to help you know where your feet are on the pads. Also expect that any pad you get is going to break really fast.

If you want something better but just can't see yourself buying an expensive thick pad, the ones with the raised arrows and slightly more cushioning are a nice in between solution. For this though, you should make sure the place you buy it from will accept returns for at least two weeks. Any pad you get that will last two weeks will probably last a lot longer, and based on my past experience, there is a good chance your pad will be defective on arrival (this is true of any pad actually). For this kind of "in the middle" pad, you can probably go with the cheapest one available, provided the seller warrenties their product. Also these kind of pads are typically older versions of the nicer pads, so they may be on clearance.

Your next step up is those brand new "over 1 inch thick dense foam insert" pads you have all been hearing about. The one from buynshop.com is totally awesome and well worth the price. I almost want to buy another one, but then I would have like 4 ddr pads, so I'm going to hold off on that. As far as I know, the brand new "2.0" version of the redoctane pad *should* be comparable to the bns Ultra DX extreme, but they cost a lot more (about $100 instead of $50 last time I checked), so I would definitly recommend the BNS pad. The older redoctance "1.0" pads with the foam or whatever doesn't look as good. If you can find them really cheap, they might make a good alternative if you simply don't have enough money for the better pads, but I would still look at what BNS is selling before you commit to one of those.

So anyway, to sup up, the new BNS ultra dx extreme never slipped (over the course of B4U extended on maniac, it moved all of about 4 inches, and it did so gradually, hence I say it doesn't "slip", which would imply more sudden movement), although I fell off it a couple times (since im a dumbass). The pad is about 80% the way to a true arcade feel, and for $45, 80% the way to a multithousand dollar arace game is pretty damn good. The raised arrows help out a ton, so you never have to look down at the pad to know where you are, and not enough good things can be said about the foam insert. I had high expectations for this new pad, but I still came away with the pad exceeding those expectations.

A good discussion of these pads has been going on at the akddr.com forums, where several people have bought and discussed these same pads. The general consensus here is that they are really great, but not perfect. For details, I suggest you read This thread.

Now, for the older reviews you have all read before:

Written December, 2001
By Gabriel Ramuglia a.k.a. the FunkyWizard

Products Reviewed are from BuyNShop.com

BNS Ultra-X DDR Combo Dance Pad

Cost: $29
Value = 9/10
Functionality = 7/10
Reliability = 7/10

Comes with PSX Pad and PC adapter cable

PSX-Change 2 Mod CD

Cost $20
Worth: Every penny

Lets you play imported and copied playstation 1 games.

The Pad I have reviewed here is from BuyNshop.com and it comes with a PSX to Parallel Port adapter. The pad is advertised as

BNS Ultra-X DDR Pads is an all New & Re-Design dance pad build for the Advanced DDR Gamers. New features are Ultra Non Slip Bottom Cushioning,Sensitivity Wiring& more.
The pad does have a non slip coushining on the bottom. I would say this product is definitly a little better than other 3rd party pads I've seen before, and isn't very expensive. Like all soft pads, however, this one slides around a bit and is not well suited to the faster paced trick and maniac level songs. The non slip backing helps quite well on the slower songs, but has an interesting side effect. Instead of the bottom slipping out from under you, the top slides a bit. It's almost like two sheets of paper stapled together at the edges with the bottom end glued to the ground. The bottom mostly stays put, but the top still causes some problems. This really cant be helped with soft pads, but I'm working on modding mine out to hold it in place better. A fairly good way to do it is to duct tape it to a board or something. I've had good results with that. As far as soft pads go, this pad is slightly above average as far as pad slippage goes. As an option, you can buy an anti-slip top cover for your pad that also lets you play in your shoes. It costs $10, but if you are serious about ddr, I would recommend getting it.

As for the pads lighting up, this is mostly helpful just to let you know the pad is working. It doesn't really look cool like in the arcade, but its nice to know when you've actually hit a pad. This is especially useful when using the parallel port adapter, since its hard to tell when you've set up the drivers correctly on your computer.

The parellel port adapter lets you use your ddr pad on a pc version of ddr (downloadable from this site). It requires direct pad pro drivers (soon to be downloadable from this site). Direct Pad Pro only works under windows 98 or Me however, and as such I have not had much luck getting the pad to work under windows 2000. I have found some other pad drivers such as NT-Pad, but haven't been able to get them working properly. The pad without the parellel port adapter is $27 instead of $29

In terms of reliability, the pad after about 2 months still seems to have the buttons push just as well as my Konami pad did when I first got it. This is actually better than my Konami Pad held up, which is now very picky about how you step on it. There is a slight problem with the underside of the pad now, which got ripped while I was moving it. I would therefore tell you to be careful when transporting or storing the pad. However, despite not doing anything to try to repair the rip (which is only about 2 inches long), it hasn't gotten any worse in the last month or so. Overall, I would not say this pad is spectacularly reliable, but it's still pretty good.

My Final recommendation on this product is that it is definitly worth what it costs. If it cost a lot more, it proabably would not be worth getting. I had no problems with BuyNShop.com, who sent the product through US Mail. This took a little longer, but it also allowed me to get the product in my P.O. box, which could not be done with FedEx or UPS. Also, shipping via any other method to Alaska would have cost at least as much as the pad itself. Therefore, I would say shipping from BuyNShop was definitly above average. BuyNShop.com also seems to be substantially cheaper than many other companies online that I have seen selling DDR pads and games. They have cheaper pads without the anti-slip for just $14, for instance.

PSX-Change 2 Mod CD

UPDATE: The PSX-Change 2 Mod cd cannot play "mod block" protected games, such as ddr 4th mix import legal and ddr 5th mix import legal. Play of these discs requires a "hacked" version of the game disc, which either requires acquisition of a hacked disc, or you can sometimes hack the disc yourself (if you own the origional playstation disc and have a cd burner). No modded playstation can currently play mod blocked discs without first removing the protections from the disc itself. I did not know this when making my initial review, sorry for the mixup.

The PSX-Change 2 mod cd is designed to let you play imported games on your playstation. It works with psx or ps-one. It does not work with ps2. It has a feature to make it work with modchip protected anticopy games, as well as hardware to make the playstation think the lid is closed at all times. Basically you install the lid hardware, pop in the disc, wait for it to load, insert copied or imported disc, and press start. The game then loads, and you no longer have to deal with installing mod chips or screens telling you to insert a legitimate psx game. Not much more to say about this product excep that it works perfectly for me to play import ddr on my new psone. At $20, it is well worth the investment. It doesn't void your warrenty like a mod chip does, and does not require any soldering skills. Furthermore, it costs a great deal less than the $40 it costs to have microplay install a mod chip in your playstation. Lastly, you can use this in more than one playstation, albiet with a little bit of hassle, since you have to reinstall the lid hardware. In all, a great buy from BuyNShop.com

If you have any more questions about these products please email me, and I'll do my best to help. Thanks!

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250k from Dec29, 2001 Dec29, 2002