Originally Posted by DIML
I would really like to pick up a DDR arcade machine for my husband. I'm hoping someone can help guide me a bit...
1. How can I get one for a reasonable price? I'm in Vancouver, BC. And more importantly, what is reasonable?
2. What is the maintenance on a machine? Do I need to know how to take it apart and clean it?
3. How do I get different "mixes"? Can I load multiple mixes onto the machine?
Having previously worked at an arcade where I maintained a lot of the DDR/Bemani games, I can definitely try to answer your questions.
1) Don't overlook places like eBay. Arcades continue to close as consumers move away from them and arcades are looking for places to offload this stuff quickly and easily. However, you mentioned that you are in Vancouver, so that might limit your options as many arcades often want the buyer to haul the machines away themselves and few are willing to ship them due to the high cost (and your case, import fees if purchasing from the US). There can also be a big difference in price depending on the cabinet you purchase. DDR X introduced a new style cabinet that had an HD monitor and newer pads, so this one will cost quite a bit more than old style cabinet (DDR Supernova 2 was the last mix that was exclusively on the old-style cabinets). IF you could find an old-style cabinet with one of the newer mixes in it; that would definitely be the way to go. I have seen some used old-style cabinets go for $1500-3000 for some of the desperate arcades. If you are looking for a new style cabinet, it could very well cost you $7000-10,000 USD before it reached your doorstep if importing.
2) How much maintenance you will need to do will largely depend on the condition of the machine when you get it. But for the most part, your main cleaning of the unit should probably occur when you get it. Assuming that the machine is already in pieces (dance pads, marquee, and main console are the usual splits), your primary focus is going to be the pads as poor maintenance can (and likely will) affect gameplay. But not to worry, once you open up one of the steps and see what's inside, you'll realize there's really not much to them. Literally, you should be looking at a pair of thin lights and then sensors that line each side of the step. There are 4 sensors per step and they should all be in working order for the best gameplay experience; however, if one fails, it's not as though the step will fail to function or anything like that (it WILL become less responsive on the side where the sensor failed though). You can purchase sensors/parts from places like Coin-op Express (http://www.coinopexpress.com
) or Channelbeat (http://www.channelbeat.com
). Both places could also probably set you up with a machine, but I don't know if they would be "reasonable" pricing based on your requirements. But other than the pads, unless you have burnt out lights or something like that, there's very little maintenance otherwise. Just keep the pads in good working condition (maybe vacuum them out every couple of months) and you'll be fine.
3) This one can be a bit tricky. DDR is not nearly as big as it used to be, so finding legitimate, non-bootleg mixes is difficult. Many of the places that exported new mixes from Japan were blacklisted from Konami a long time ago, so you may be stuck with the bootleg stuff. One of the big problems is that even if you manage to find a relatively current upgrade kit (say from a Yahoo Japan auction), you need to have a special security dongle to make it work on the hardware. It's not the game's security dongle (black) that is hard to track down, but the one for the computer (white) that runs the game. My advice would be to purchase a machine that is relatively current as that will have a TON of songs on it just in case you aren't able to upgrade it somewhere down the line. Either that or if you are buying an upgrade kit, make sure the entire computer PCB is included to make sure it will work. But to answer your other question, no, you can only load one mix on a machine at a time. Frankly, that's not a huge deal though because a lot of songs from previous mixes carry into new mixes.
I know that a lot of that might've been confusing, so if you have any other questions or need clarification, just ask.