Naoki Maeda was the longtime prime original musical architect for Dance Dance Revolution. On occasion, however, one of Bemani’s other in-house musicians, Yuichi Asami, would contribute reinterpretations of some of Naoki’s tracks. This is one of the highlights.

DDRMAX2: Dance Dance Revolution (US)*
2MB
“PARANOiA KCET ~clean mix~”

“PARANOiA” is a whole lineage of songs, stretching all the way back to the very first DDR arcade release. and is in essence the most prominent song series of the Dance Dance Revolution canon. Which...yeah, let’s be real, it’s weird to think of a rhythm game as containing a canon. But that right there was one of DDR’s quirks, a big factor in its persona and appeal that went beyond its gameplay merits.

The PARANOiAs, in particular, being among the hardest and fastest songs in the games in which they appeared, represent challenge, and Naoki (often taking the songs’ tempos as his pseudonyms) made doubly sure that they sounded the part. With grunts mixed in with the drums, distorted vocal samples, air raid sirens, and harsh synths galore, these tracks are downright confrontational. To take on one of these beasts on the highest difficulty is to throw down the gauntlet, a proclamation to the game that you mean business.

Judged purely on their merits as songs, however, many of them tend to fall slightly to significantly short. Sometimes it’s from sounding too similar to the original yet also being lesser, thus making them redundant. Other times were due to the priority shifting more towards acting host to extraordinarily hard charts and getting there at the expense of musical quality in the process.

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That said, some versions do stand above the rest of the pack as game-free listens. The original “PARANOiA” is pretty decent. The jungle/drum ‘n bass freakout of “PARANOiA EVOLUTION” is also a particular highlight. My pick for best version, however, is Yuichi Asami’s first crack (as 2MB) at the tune.

“PARANOiA KCET ~clean mix~” may be the platonic ideal of a remix. It’s a significant departure from the original, given the total rearrangement of the elements of the original and the addition of several brand new tricks—a strong hardcore-laced beat, a persistent acid-washed 303 bassline, the droning synth during each “chorus”—yet despite the differences, it still undeniably possesses the essence of PARANOiA.

That all added up to it becoming one of my favorite discoveries from my first serious Dance Dance Revolution game, the American release of DDRMAX2. It is still, to this day, one of the tunes I cherish most from the whole DDR enterprise.

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*Technically, it first came to the USA courtesy of the original DDR for the PlayStation 1, but MAX2 was my first exposure to it.

RedStripe Loved Trax—originally from days of Tumblr past—is a series about the music Justin adores, with special emphasis on songs from (or introduced by) video games and anime.