Monday, March 9, 2020

Rhythm Fest 2020

In February a very rare event named Rhythm Fest was taking place in Zoetermeer at NVGM. It was as the name suggests a rhythm gaming event that featured many rhythm games and tournaments. Until recently I was struggling with my health. By an accident the cause why I was feeling so bad was found and treatment was started. Since then I started feeling better and that is why I really looked forward to this event which would be the first event during which I wouldn't be affected by my condition that much. I couldn't miss it! I was looking forward to finally get out of the country and have fun somewhere playing games, meeting new people, and talking to my friends.

My original plan was to fly to Eindhoven and from there go to Nootdorp where I'd be staying. I had to switch airports though so the plane took me to Amsterdam. In Eindhoven, there is Gamestate that has Dance Dance Revolution A. I wanted to play some DDR there but that will have to wait for next time. In Amsterdam there is also a Gamestate with DDR A so I decided to go there. A dear friend of mine joined me even though he didn't feel that great and I'm thankful that he came to join me. We could briefly talk and I hope he had some fun in the arcades while I was stomping on arrows.

Gamestate Amsterdam

Gamestate is mainly ticket machine arcades but they also have a dance machine at various locations. It's really great that there is more locations with dance machines and that the community can grow. Not sure about if there are any new DDR players but for the Pump community it was very helpful. We arrived to Bijlmer ArenA and went to grab something to eat. We stopped by Burger King and tried to eat our meals outside. It was so windy that it made even our fries fly!

After that we headed to Gamestate where I charged my card with a lot of euros (it's 2 EUR per 2 songs) and went to find the DDR A machine. I saw some players stepping on arrows during tutorial and wondered if they'd even get to play some songs. They did. I watched them finish and then they let me play. I hoped I wouldn't fail any song.

I saw the machine in local mode so I didn't need my eamusement pass which also meant I wouldn't be able to play the songs I wanted. My first song was Polovtsian Dances And Chorus which is an easy 11, coming from game I enjoyed, and a song that has a steady rhythm which I could try to sync to. I have to say that my first attempt at syncing with the machine was a failure. I stared at an AA with a disbelief. I tried another song and stared at another three digit greats.

Then I picked Mermaid Girl. I seriously struggle with timing on that song in IIDX but thanks to trying hard to AAA it I can sync to it quite well. I got the worst AAA you could get and I finally understood that I'm too early. I miss my slow/fast and dark mode settings. After that I played all kinds of songs and for someone who was rather dehydrated I did quite a good job at some songs. The machine was great. The cab looks nice, the pads were VERY sensitive and in overall I had a great time playing DDR.

After some time we had to leave so I could check in to my airbnb. We took the train to Den Haag. I then went to Laan van NOI and took the metro to Nootdorp (it wasn't necessary but oh well, we didn't take the best route to Den Haag either and at least we could talk more). When I got off the metro it was a raging storm outside. I had to walk 2km in that and I have to say that I was totally soaked when I arrived to the airbnb.

The place I was staying at was quite big and very clean. I got an allergic reaction when I entered though and I wasn't sure why that happened. Later I found out why it happened, there was a cat!

I asked the host about some grocery stores and directions and he told me how to get there and also told me to wait till the rain stops. I didn't expect the rain to stop but it actually did after few hours. I tried to find the store but failed. I still managed to grab something to eat and then wondered if I'd fall asleep.

I still had few hours of time before my body would want to sleep so I continued reading Assassin's Creed novel (I don't recommend it). Then I tried falling asleep. I fell asleep at like 4 am and I got up at 9am so I could grab something to eat before we would leave for NVGM with Thumbsy and Noodle. I took a walk around the area and took some pictures, the omnipresent wind was starting to irritate me but then it was time to leave.

Rhythm Fest

At Rhythm Fest I wanted to try out new games, talk to some players and participate in events that were held during the event. I signed up for ITG Doubles, Pump it Up Heavy, Jubeat, Sound Voltex, Beatmania IIDX and Pop'n Music.

Jubeat Festo

I didn't play a single credit of Jubeat before entering the event which was a mistake and I have to say I failed very badly. I showed that I excelled at Good attack and most probably ended up last. I was pretty depressed after that but thanks to Penda who told me I was early I managed to sync after the event and actually enjoyed playing Jubeat. One of the biggest mistakes was not bringing headphones with me because the first time I heard the songs I played was when watching the stream after I arrived home. Here is a video of me trying to play a song I never played before and I didn't hear anything from the machine.

Beatmania IIDX
When I arrived to Rhythm Fest the first game I played was Beatmania IIDX Sirius. I totally failed with all Goods, but then we played Sayonara Heaven with Nebbii, who even asked me if I don't want to play the six instead of the 8. I cleared that one though after listening to Nebbii's hits and realizing it's like half a second off. Then it was time for me to say Beatmania IIDX Rootage hello, so I went upstairs and immediately fell in love with that cab. I logged in and wondered how much messing up with the settings would await me. I set something up during the two songs I played and it seemed fine. So I decided to give some dan courses as try. I tried THE SAFARI and utterly failed. I got to a point where I needed to just survive one measure in order to finish the course but I didn't get past the measure and sadly died. Someone next to me was like 'oh, yeah, that's Safari'. When he saw the course result screen he was like 'oh, you played 7th dan? That was a very good attempt!'. That felt great.

I had to try out doubles on the machine too. I decided to play a dan course right away which was a mistake since I didn't set my settings for doubles. I certainly made the course way more difficult than it already was. I was also pretty rusty but surprisingly I somehow made it through. Someone should have given me a prize for clearing the course with the lowest percentage ever.

The tournament took place right before and during dinner time. I was very exhausted and hungry when I played my first round. The song picked was Playing with Fire. Supposedly an 9. I don't usually have problems with 9s but I got a C. In the following round we were supposed to play Xlø. When I saw the clear rate I knew that I'd most probably just fail the song. And that's exactly what happened, I even just hit the white key to get rid of the result screen (good thing that I have all the stats showed up during play). I thought I was eliminated from the event and went to eat dinner where I briefly talked with the organizer of the event and also had the opportunity to see others who were helping run the event. A IIDX player came to me then to tell me that it's my time to play my round and that is how I discovered that it was a double elimination event. I was up against Jacky whom I saw play some BEMANI games before and assessed his skill as 'good'. He's a 6th dan in IIDX. It was him who played first, the song picked was Yum Yum Jelly. He got a nice A or at least it seemed good to me. After my two Cs that I got I didn't believe I could do any better. When I was nearing the end of the song I heard someone say, it's gonna be close. I didn't know Jacky's EX score but mine was showing something around 1100 which was high for me. I tried to concentrate as much as I could and hit the last note with Just Great. Then I looked at the result screen and saw Jacky's -1. I won somehow!

My join was short lived because my next opponent was Penda who'd just beat me no matter the song or difficulty. We played dAuntl3ss and I got a nice B. Considering it was a ten that I played for the first time it wasn't bad. Penda just single-handedly AAed it.

The event was really fun. I got to see Penda, T_Bone, Nebbii play and that was great. Meeting T_Bone after a decade was also something I didn't expect and it was a really nice surprise. It also showed the difference between old school players and the new players. IIDX event was a success for me even though I didn't win anything and started pretty badly.

In The Groove

Since I'm in a pretty bad shape playing anything but doubles was pretty much impossible for me. I didn't do well in ITG but I enjoyed the songs I played. The first song I played was with Nebbii who casually chose a 15 on reverse to warm up. I played for a while before the song started to get streamy and then later went to play on a different cab. I was looking for some easy songs but it seemed I could choose between difficulties 10 to 20. I picked some Stamina 10 and hoped it would somehow warm me up and prepare me for Pump it Up Heavy that was starting earlier than ITG event. I somehow made it through the song without dying and played few more songs while figuring out what my settings could possibly be. 630, 30% mini, cell seemed readable.

I tried playing some doubles on yet another machine, but it was powdered and I almost fell off the platform. I came back to the machine I played on but the pads were also super sensitive and I wasn't sure if playing the event on a dedicab would be a good idea. I still could play on a SD cab though. I picked that cab to play my tournament songs on and luckily that also meant my failures weren't seen on the stream. For doubles I expected to clear an 11 but somehow I failed a 10 without even noticing it. That made me feel very bad and I just didn't want to play any more dance games. I played my four songs and enjoyed the charts which weren't bad and were quite fun to play. Nonetheless, I have to say that I'm lacking in the ITG department quite a lot. There are new kinds of charts and my legs don't know what to do with them. At the Eurocup two years ago I had to brute force the songs sometimes jumping on one leg. This amused the players watching me and it also showed me that a lot has changed the decade I was on hiatus.

Pump it Up

PIU machines were running StepF2 and featured even XX songs. I also picked the worst looking cab to play on and it actually felt great playing on it. At least for me. It was as sensitive and the panels were more recessed which I prefer than having a really flat platform. The PIU players were good and I knew that my performance would be bad but I didn't expect that it would be that bad. The songs I got to play were two 17s, both of which weren't particularly difficult but my stamina was nowhere to be found when I needed it. I enjoyed both charts and songs but got eliminated immediately.

The players that I got the opportunity to see play were really good and I wished I could be my old self that could play 24s all day.

Pop'n Music
Pop'n Music is the only game I didn't really bother playing much before Rhythm Fest nor during it. I knew though I'd have to set my settings before the event starts because I'm a strange person and play with beat-pop and sudden. So I played one credit on non-Animelo cab and found out the blue buttons were sticky and that made me fail the songs I played. My timing was terribly off and I had no idea which speed would be good for me. When the event started I found out the song level starts at 30 so I knew I'd have some time to adjust on the easier difficulties. Penda seeing me play told me I'd probably make it to the semi-finals and he was right. I made it there and even got to the finals where I got terribly crushed by Nebbii. The song picks were good for both semis and finals. I got to replay Zirkfield which was one of the songs I played on my first play. I won the match even though I failed the song again. Got a better grade and score though.

We played the finals in Taisen mode which was a nice experience. We played Diavolo, カラルの月 and StrayedCatz. I got Bs on all songs while Nebbii AAed Diavolo and Aed Kareru no Tsuki. The final song is one of the 44s I actually managed to clear but Nebbii had already like 50k head start. If he'd just mash some buttons he'd win. While thinking that and setting my speed to something else than 1200 BPM that it showed me I noticed Nebbii staring at the settings screen with OK on it. My thought about him mindlessly hitting buttons could possibly come true. Nebbii accidentally confirmed the settings from the previous song and unfortunately he actually tried to play the song normally. That resulted in a very rare result screen where Nebbii wasn't the winner.

For me Nebbii was the winner already, so he didn't need to replay the song but he decided to played it. To make things interesting instead of playing the 44 he played the 49. I knew it was very unlikely he'd get less than 40k in order for me to be the winner but I didn't expect him to A the song so easily^_~. He got 85419 on the 49, a score I could dream even on the 44.

We got our prizes then and even got a photo of the three of us and our host.

Sound Voltex
SDVX is the event I was looking forward the most and it ended up to be the worst one. Since day 1 it was very difficult to even get a game of SDVX and then I spectacularly failed a 14 on my first stage. That was very depressing. I had no idea why and how. I knew it was because of wrong settings but I couldn't figure out what was right. After several failed 1st and 2nd stages in a similar fashion I set my speed to 630 (TOO SLOW actually) and -6 offset. With these settings I managed not to fail any of my 3 stages and cleared even a 17.

After that I though everything is fine and I'd be able to play and see some normal scores for me. Something went wrong though (probably the fact that I used my hands all day in a way they aren't used to) and I didn't have the strength to even grab the knob and turn it in any direction. I was in a terrible pain and the songs we played were quite laser heavy. Since there were two cabs (thanks Dexx and Viddy) we could be matched. I got matched with a nice player but one who was just somehow breaking into 14s. Even though I won against him my scores were atrocious and I walked away in shame. I wanted to participate in the heavy SDVX division at first but after my hands getting cramped on song number 1 I just decided to give up and play something else that doesn't require using knobs.

Nostalgia is a game I wanted to try one day and I had no idea I'd get the chance to. After logging in I was shown where to find what and a tutorial. I was a bit perplex from the options but then I got to play a song and I had quite mixed feelings about it. I was able to hit the notes somehow and always clear a song. I just played songs up to difficulty 10 but I didn't really see any difference between the difficulty levels. I was just too confused about the whole game play. It was nothing like Keyboardmania where one played the melody and had to hit the correct notes on a real two octave keyboard. I left the cab thinking I'd never return to it again but in the end I gave it another chance. I opened options once again and this time set different perspective (overhead), speed to 3x, and moved the piano bar as low as I could. After that I finally started to feel like I was in control of the game. I was hitting the correct notes at correct time and I finally felt some kind of feedback when I missed. Thanks to this I also started to listen to the music more and realized that the songs are also keysounded and that what I hear is actually what I was supposed to hear. That honestly felt great and I enjoyed playing the game for an hour or so.

I was surprised when some people came to me to tell me that I'm good at the game. I felt like a total noob (my scores weren't good at all) but then they remarked that I can play different rhythms in each hand and I can also hit singleton notes with single fingers unlike many other players I observed just mashing the keys somehow (I though that was very inefficient way to play, and I also played Keyboardmania just before playing Nostalgia)

Even though I prefer Chunithm I have to admit that Nostalgia is not a bad game.

Groove Coaster
If you follow me on Twitter you probably noticed that I play Groove Coaster for PC. I like the game on PC but I never played the arcade version because I was too afraid to try. I walked around GC cabs many times but never gathered the courage to play. This time I finally had to try. I bought a Nesica card and went to try my first song. I played イニシャルイニシャルエコーエゴー on HARD because I felt confident enough to pass an 8 on HARD on something I never laid hands before. It was a success. I missed a note in the -| looking part and got an A. I tried Love for You next and Aed it as well. I was still struggling with the boosters so I didn't get no miss on it...

I didn't concentrate on hitting the booster buttons at the right time because my hands were figuring out what I was supposed to do with them. When I tried to see if I can get a Great when I want to, to my surprise I got Great! When I felt off I also got a Cool or Good and I knew exactly what the judgment would be unlike on the PC version where I have the impression that I'd need a different offset for each song. I found out that the scores I got were actually comparable to the ones I got on PC and I also realized that not playing the AC version originally taught me some bad habits. I had to quickly reevaluate how I'd play some patterns. On the other hand critical hits weren't such a nightmare for me anymore and playing even harder songs in AC was not as bad as I imagined it to be. It actually felt easier to spam hits on AC than my keyboard. Flying dual slides where a problem on AC version too.

After finding out how enjoyable it is to play the AC version I spent a lot of time playing the game. I played some multiplayer with Aiko which was a nice experience too. Seeing Yume and his avatar fighting who'd be in the lead was kinda fun. You could see that my Yume was falling behind when I was encountering too many critical hits but otherwise she was in the lead.


The washing machine game! After waiting in a line for ages I got to play the game and I got hooked very fast. The game can be picked up very easily (similarly like Groove Coaster) and is actually lots of fun. It seemed that the ideal level as a starting difficulty was ADV 7. I don't really have much to say except that the game was very fun. I burned my fingers when sliding on the screen so I can imagine gloves are a good thing. The buttons were often covered in sweat which is also something I wasn't fond of.

I'd want to write more but I think I already wrote way too much text and will stop here. The event was well organized, we were well informed and I can imagine that it took a lot of effort and hell a lot of work to organize the event. I am very glad I participated and I'd love to attend another event like this. Thanks to all people involved in organizing and NVGM for hosting and their support. Thanks!

Gamestate Den Haag

On Monday after I managed to get up I wanted to get something to eat in Den Haag and go play some Pump if my legs would cooperate. I was exhausted from the whole event and I wasn't sure if playing more dance games would be even possible. I asked Thumbsy if he knows some good places to eat around GS and I was recommended Full Moon. Since I went there several times already I found the place without a problem. I had no idea where Gamestate is though, but then I somehow remembered that it could be seen from McDonalds which I could find on my own. I went to McDonalds and from there I saw Gamestate right in front of me. I just had to cross a construction area. After hopping from panel to panel so I would end up in mud I got inside Gamestate. I charged my card with 20 EURs and wondered if I'd meet any PIU players there.

I found the machine upstairs. Some players were playing on it but they weren't logged in so probably not regulars. After waving my card in front of the card scanner for a while it finally loaded my profile and I could play some songs. I was a bit confused about the XX menu since Prime introduced a two level menu and XX went back to one level. I had no idea where to find what song so I just picked some songs that seemed passable for me. During my first song I realized how HUGE the screen is. All I practically saw was the screen which was quite a strange feeling. I'm used to seeing quite a lot of space around a screen and stare at rather small notes but this was HUGE. This also messed my reading ability so I had to set the scrolling speed to something lower. 573 seemed fine.

My performance wasn't great but considering that I didn't expect to be able to walk that day it was probably good for my condition. I couldn't clear a 17 even though I was close. Still there were many songs I never heard of and I enjoyed playing them. Later on I managed to play some of my favorite songs or charts and I even got to play Canon D D23 which I play at each of my sessions on a well maintained machine. I totally failed it this time and I felt ashamed once again. There are songs and charts I want to play like LIADZ Full Song D21 and I can't enjoy them as I used to. It motivated me to get in better shape though and I hope it will last. Because I can't go to another event feeling so embarrassed again.

I met Offline, Frank69 and few other players while there which was nice too. Looking forward to playing more Pump again soon.


After work Heat was supposed to join me at Full Moon but since he took longer to arrive than expected we met at Gamestate. I got a katsu ramen and green tea with lemon at full moon, both being delicious, and then I headed to GS. There I went upstairs and joined a player's session already. I couldn't card in thus. He picked some 13 that I somehow got SSS on. Most probably just because I played without HJ, it didn't dawn on me that I should set that. Then we played a 14 and a 15. The player was a bit surprised I could play those. Then it was Offline's time to play and they played Dignity. At least I wasn't the only person picking weird songs^_^. It was nice to see Dignity being played after so long time the song wasn't available in Pump.

Heat came then and we left GS to walk around the area. We were trying to figure out what we could possibly do. In the end we went to a cinema to watch Gentlemen. In order to get to see the movie I had to climb TOO MANY stairs. I thought I'd die of pain, so many stairs after days of playing dance games and powerstancing was a nightmare. I managed to get upstairs though with the help of the rail and then waited for the movie to start. Oh, the movie was really good. Well shoot, well written and funny. I was very glad I got to see it because I hardly go to cinema.

After the movie was over I returned to my airbnb to pack all my stuff and whatnot. I fell asleep at dawn but somehow managed to get up to catch my 9am flight.

At the airport my deckboxes were taken out of my bag and I was asked what's inside. This is nothing new, when traveling with Magic cards this is what happens. But this time my boxes got a swab and I had a hard time trying to hide a smile. Also the body scanner that I'm not a fan of found something strange in my leg. I got quite an aggressive pat down (on my rather aching leg) but the TSA agent didn't find anything on my leg, so he shrugged and let me go.

Our flight was delayed by 30 minutes but the captain told us we'd most probably arrive on time. We even arrived earlier than that so there wasn't even time for sandwiches to be served. It was a bumpy ride and passengers were glad we landed safely in Prague.

I was very hungry and even had troubles to get to the closest shopping mall. I ate the most caloric meal I could find and then headed home. I was totally exhausted and I had one day to recover before going back to work. I spent a great time in the Netherlands and hopefully I'll get there soon.

Thanks for reading
S'Tsung (stsungjp @ Twitter)