Pump It Up, commonly abbreviated as PIU or shortened to just Pump, is a music video game series developed by Nexcade and published by Andamiro, a Korean arcade game producer. The game is typically played on a dance pad with five arrow panels: up-left, up-right, bottom-left, bottom-right, and a center panel. Additional gameplay modes may utilize two five-panel pads side-by-side. These panels are pressed using the player's feet, in response to arrows that appear on the screen in front of the player. The arrows are synchronized to the general rhythm or beat of a chosen song, and success is dependent on the player's ability to time and position his or her steps accordingly.
The original version of the game was originally released in South Korea in August 1999. The game has also been released in other markets, such as North America and South America and in Europe. There are two current releases in the series. Pump It Up Fiesta 2 is the international version, and Pump It Up Infinity is an exclusive release to the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada. Pump it Up has tried to cater more to Freestyle players than "technical" players with more freestyle-friendly charts, as a result the game has more of a culture in the freestyle and breakdancing disciplines. However, the game still caters well to technical players with a vast array of high difficulty songs and stepcharts.
The core gameplay involves the player moving his or her feet to a set pattern, stepping in time to the general rhythm or beat of a song. During normal gameplay, arrows scroll upwards from the bottom of the screen and pass over stationary arrows near the top (referred to as the "guide arrows" or "receptors"). When the scrolling arrows overlap the stationary ones, the player must step on the corresponding arrows on the dance platform. Players receive a judgment for each step based on the accuracy of the step. Judgments include, from best to worst, Superb, Perfect, Great, Good, Bad and Miss. The size of these judgments vary from version to version, and sometimes depend on the difficulty of the machine set by the machine operator. Longer arrows referred to as "holds" must be held down for their entire length (with them adding additional Perfects to the combo, and in addition - holds can be held on to before the hold passes through without penalty).
Successfully hitting the arrows in time with the music fills a life bar, while failure to do so drains it. If the bar is fully depleted during gameplay with Stage Break mode turned on, the player fails the song, usually resulting in a game over. If Stage Break is off, players only fail the song (and cause play to stop) by getting a combo of 51 consecutive misses. Otherwise, the player is taken to the Results Screen, which rates the player's performance with a letter grade and a numerical score, among other statistics. The player may then be given a chance to play again, depending on the settings of the particular machine. The amount of songs in a credit is 3 songs + bonus on all versions other than Extra Mix and NX2. Extra allows changing the game to 2+1 while NX2 is 2+1 by default on Arcade Station (3 songs in all other Stations). If the player gets an S or A ranking on all songs in a game, the player earns a "bonus stage".
Depending on the version of the game, dance steps are broken into varying levels of difficulty - as of the current version, these modes are known as Normal, Hard, and Crazy for single pads, and Freestyle and Nightmare for doubles. However, the all-new "Full Mode" changes that by breaking the levels into numbers that range from 1 to 27, which are also divided between Singles, Doubles and Single/Double/Triple Performance (mostly freestyle). Older versions contained modes such as Half Double, Division (which used two stepcharts that could be switched between using special arrows acting as a form of switch). Other modes on some versions include Battle modes, long versions and themed mixes, and mission modes containing different challenges with specific criteria. The steps for the various levels of difficulty available for a particular song are ranked using a scale, the format of which varies from version to version - usually using either numbers, symbols, or both. On some versions, songs with higher difficulties do not even have ratings, and are represented with a level of "??".
The steps for the various levels of difficulty available for a particular song are ranked using a scale, the format of which varies from version to version.
Before Exceed was released, the difficulty for all game modes ranged from 1 to 10, with the exception of "Vook", a song introduced on The Premiere 2, which was level 12 on Double mode. These difficulty ratings were only useful with respect to other songs in the same mode: a level 5 Crazy song will likely be easier than a Crazy song ranked 8, but is probably more difficult than a 7 on Hard. With Exceed's debut, all levels were reworked, in a unified range from 1 to 15 for Crazy mode and ranging as high as 20 for Nightmare mode.
The rating system was again slightly reworked for the upper level songs with Exceed 2's release, raising the range to 20 for Crazy and going even higher for Nightmare mode, with a high of 22. Exceed 2 also added the infamous "??" rating for the truly top-tier songs. With Zero's release, the difficulty was scaled from 1 to beyond 20, with the highest at 23. Some unrated songs were arguably more difficult than the level 23, including some of the "another step" songs, which were all given a level of "??". The release of New Xenesis saw a return to representing levels symbolically. It uses a star scale to measure the lower levels, which goes up to 8 in half increments (for a maximum level of 16). The higher levels are measure by a skull scale which goes up to 8 in whole increments. On NX2 and NX Absolute, this scale is modified with a line of circles that go up to 8 in whole increments. Higher difficulties replace these circles with stars and even higher difficulties replace the stars with skulls. This scale is also accompanied by a number. Starting with Fiesta, the Normal / Hard / Crazy / Freestyle / Nightmare modes are replaced by prefixing the difficulty level with either single or double.
The difficulty ratings are subjective by nature and are therefore not always deemed accurate.
The way the difficulty rating appears on screen also varies a bit, depending on the version's interface: on The Premiere, The PREX, The Premiere 2, Exceed, Exceed 2 and Zero, the difficulty is indicated by a natural number, like "3" or "8"; on all other versions, they are indicated by a line of circles, with as many circles as the level of the song.
Since the first release, all game modes accept modifiers which are enabled by using special codes. The effects vary from speeding arrows up, changing the design of the arrows all together, making them fade as they go up, or making them appear in random places instead of their pre-defined column (while still being on the same beat).
Most players, after a starting period, get used to applying the modifiers to make arrows faster, which makes them more spaced. This is a matter of personal preferences, but top tier players generally prefer to apply these modifiers to make the arrows scroll towards the top of the screen at a very fast pace. Some (not all) step codes for the specific version are contained on a sticker affixed to the machine.
Konami filed a lawsuit in Seoul, Korea against Andamiro in 2000, claiming that Pump it Up infringed upon their design right for Dance Dance Revolution. The court found in Konami's favor, but Andamiro appealed. At the same time, Andamiro sued Konami in the state of California, claiming that DDR violated their patent for Pump it Up. Both suits were ultimately settled out of court, and the details were never publicly released.
The songs used in Pump It Up consist primarily of Korean-based music. Premiere 3 and Exceed were the only versions to put a greater emphasis on international Pop music due to its branching into other markets such as North and Latin America. After Exceed, the focus shifted back to K-Pop as the players worldwide generally favored the game's original Korean music. Much of the music on Pump is contributed by an in-house (and mostly anonymous) collective known as BanYa. Two of the main members, Yahpp and Msgoon - recently became independent artists (and as of NX and Fiesta respectively, all of their songs are now branded using their aliases). Aside from the K-Pop licenses, most in-house songs on Pump it Up are of Korean influence. The diversity in genres is very great despite this, covering everything from general pop to heavy metal to Hip hop as well as an assortment of uncommon genres such as jazz, folk, and ska.
Some of BanYa's songs include covers of classical pieces such as Canon in D, mostly performed in a symphonic rock style.
In comparison to Konami's Bemani line-up and other arcade rhythm games, there has been negligible emphasis on electronic music in Pump, but the first instances of electronic music on Pump occurred on NX2, as five crossovers from the American-made spinoff appeared, who in contrast, has a greater emphasis on electronic music.
Several other gameplay modes have appeared throughout the series.
Battle Mode, appearing on "Pump it Up 2nd DF", player with higher score would win the battle. On Perfect Collection and The Premiere, a player could "attack" their opponent with modifiers by creating combos, with longer combos results in more damaging attacks. On Exceed 2 there are extra bonus arrows containing power ups activated by action steps that come up later which launches the attack. The battle could be decided in only 1 song in most cases. Stage Break does not affect this mode.
Division Mode, appearing on Premiere 2 and Rebirth, utilized special stepcharts with "switches" that could switch between a "Groove" style (for freestyling), and a "Wild" style for more advanced charts.
Half-Double, appearing on Premiere 2 and Rebirth and remaining until Premiere 3 and Prex 3, was a mode which only used the 6 panels in the middle (both centers plus the right arrow pair on the 1p side and the left arrow pair on the 2p side).
Zero included an Easy Mode, with a selection of easy songs and a modified interface.
Many PIU games include modes featuring Nonstop Remixes, longer club mixes of several songs, and sometimes even long versions of existing songs.
Mission Mode was introduced in Zero, and involves playing songs with specific conditions that must be met. On Zero, each mission is divided into three songs, or stages, and are ranked in difficulty by the number of stars shown. If a song is failed, the player is also given an option to continue the mission and attempt the stage again. The mode was expanded into the World Tour mode on NX, and the RPG-styled WorldMax on NX2.
Some versions include Another Step versions of songs, containing tougher alternate stepcharts than in the usual game modes - sometime containing charts that are experimental with unique (and often weird or extremely difficult) elements inside unlike any other stepcharts found in the game.
Training Mode was introduced in NX, and consists of special tutorials themed on various fundamentals of play. Lessons consist of 3 songs with special stepcharts emphasizing the theme of the lesson.
Brain Shower was introduced in NXA. It is a new type of game that combines traditional timing of steps and arrows with mental exercises including mathematics, observation, and memory.
The first game in the series was simply titled Pump it Up, followed by 2nd Dance Floor, 3rd: O.B.G (Oldies but Goodies), 3rd: SE (Season Evolution), The Collection, Perfect Collection, Extra, and Rebirth.
The first internationally released version was titled Pump it Up: The Premiere, an adaptation of the Perfect Collection version containing 6 covers of American songs. The next version was called The Prex (combining Premiere with the Korean Extra version), and The Premiere 2, based on Rebirth. Another Prex title was released, Prex 2, followed by Premiere 3 and Prex 3.
The International and Korean releases would be unified on the 9th version, Prex 3, which was released in Korea and in the rest of the world. The series began catering to both Korea and the rest of the world starting with Exceed.
A standard Pump it Uparcade machine consists of two parts, the cabinet and the dance platform. The cabinet has a wide bottom section, which houses large floor speakers and glowing neon lamps. Above this sits a narrower section that contains the monitor, and on top is a lighted marquee graphic, with two small speakers and flashing lights on it. The dance stage is a raised metal platform divided into two sides. Each side houses a set of five acrylic glass pads arranged like the pips on the 5 side of a die, separated by metal squares. Each pad sits atop pressure activated switches, and a software-controlled cold cathode lamp illuminating the translucent pad. A metal safety bar in the shape of an "R" is mounted to the dance stage behind each player. Some players make use of this safety bar to help maintain proper balance, do tricks during Freestyle routines, and to relieve weight from the legs so that arrows can be pressed with greater speed and accuracy. The community however, places more emphasis on no-bar play, as most major Pump it Up tournaments do not allow bar usage or have a separate division allowing it.
DX cabinets utilize a large Rear-projection television as their monitor (with the lights being on the sides of the screen's enclosure instead of along the top), and FX cabinets contain a Plasma display as the monitor, LED lights, and a pair of LED vertical VU meters on the sides. As of NX2, all Pump it Up machines now include USB ports on the side of the cabinet which allow the saving of statistics and unlocks to a proprietary USB drive. All FX cabinets contain them (as NX was slated to have USB functionality, which was later shifted to NX2), and the upgrade kit for NX2 includes the external USB ports so that they can be soldered to the machine if it doesn't already have them.
Andamiro eventually released home versions of Pump it Up for PCs, coming with a CD containing the game and a special dance mat, with arrows of the same size as the arcade's pads. On Korean versions, the mat is connected through the PS/2 port, and comes with an adapter to share it with the keyboard. On international versions, the mat uses a USB plug. Exceed and Zero were also released for the PlayStation Portable.
On November 11, 2004, Andamiro released the Korean version of Pump It Up: Exceed on the PlayStation 2, which includes most of the songs from the arcade Exceed version. An American version of the game was released on August 31, 2005 for the Xbox and PlayStation 2 under the title Pump It Up Exceed SE This version includes most of the songs from the Korean PS2 version, six US licensed songs as well as revivals and removals from Exceed 2. Exceed SE also uses the updated engine from Exceed 2