How Friday Night Funkin’ Provides the Freshest New Take on Dance Dance Revolution

Proving once again that a nostalgic premise, love for the fans, and an original thematic upgrade is a recipe for indie game success

A love letter to the rhythm games and flash games of the 90s. Source, https://ninja-muffin24.itch.io/funkin

The Dynamite Rave of ‘98

Back in 1998 when Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) was first released, games that required physical exertion with full-body controls were in their infancy. Games like Ring Fit Adventure and Wii Fit have popularity due in part to DDR’s influence on the gaming market.

The communal nature of “Dance Dance Revolution” was seen in arcades around the world in the 90s. Source, Vice Video https://bit.ly/3q4Ik6O

Open-Source Future of DDR

But that was not enough for many DDR enthusiasts. With the desire to dance to any song in their music library, and master even more difficult song packs, gamers gravitated to Stepmania, an open-source DDR app released in 2001 for PC that lets players build their own DDR games.

Songs in Stepmania were managed in a separate folder on the PC, with associated step maps of varying difficulties. Source, https://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Song-on-Stepmania

Friday Night Funkin’

Friday Night Funkin is a rhythm game that was originally created for the “Ludum Dare” bi-annual game jam. A game jam is a competition where game makers compete to create a game in a limited timeframe with additional thematic limitations put in place. For Ludum Dare 47, the theme was “Stuck in a Loop”. Rhythm and music games fit into this theme quite easily, with song looping being very common. The connection between the game in question and the theme is quite evident!

Friday Night Funkin’ takes influence from DDR, Paparappa the Rapper, and flash games of the 90s. Source, https://ldjam.com/events/ludum-dare/47/friday-night-funkin
Example of how Friday Night Funkin’ takes open-mic battles and turns them into DDR inspired gameplay. Source, https://fridaynightfunkin.fandom.com/wiki

The Driving Force of Nostalgia

The site Newgrounds, a staple for millennials back in the 90s to play Adobe Flash games, is seeing a resurgence by hosting and supporting the game. The game is written in HaxeFlixel, a 2D game engine that has roots in Flash games. There are clear influences from Newgrounds as well — one of the enemy characters in the game is Pico, one of Newgrounds’ mascots created by the site’s progenitor, Tom Fulp.

Pico featured as an opponent in a level of Friday Night Funkin’.

The Mod Community Descends

While the game can be completed in a couple of short hours, the mod community around Friday Night Funkin’ has grown and begun adding their own content patches to keep the gameplay coming. It was a smart move to make the game open-source. Game developers and gamers are in a symbiotic relationship, and games that accept and encourage this to grow at a much faster rate. With a growing player base, the hype around Friday Night Funkin’ is bound to grow with time.

Conclusion

Unique indie game remakes have become popular over the last few years, and they seem here to stay. Thankfully for millennial and Gen X gamers, this means a resurgence of games we grew up playing!

Freelance game designer / developer. Full stack developer. Board game geek and cat tamer.

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