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In The Groove (or ITG, as it's also known) is a video game unlike other video games.
Instead of a controller where you sit on your ass and mash buttons, in ITG you stand on a panel with four arrows and follow the arrow that show up on the screen, by stepping on the matching arrows. Mind-numbingly easy on the lower levels, but insanely hard in the later ones. Late-teens seem to catch on better than adults for some reason, and a very common sight in arcades is 30-somethings being put to shame by dextrous Seventeen-year-olds.
In case you haven't noticed, most of the lead is right from the Dance Dance Revolution page. This is because the two games are just that similar, with ITG essentially being an American-made DDR. However, this doesn't mean the series didn't innovate or have some neat features, like Mines (don't step on them!), charts containing sections that require hitting or holding more than 2 panels at once (intended for use with your hands), and Rolls (Freeze Arrows you have to keep hitting). The game also popularized the concept of "crazy-hard" songs to the 4-panel scene, with the normal difficulty scale ranging from 1-12 "block" (compared to DDR's 1-10 at the time), with an additional 13th level for the hardest of the hard. And just look at the cabinet!
There's a lot going on graphically as well. The arrows here are IN 3D and are coloured similarly to DDR's "solo" arrows (on beat arrows are red, off-beat are blue, 16ths are green\yellow, etc), but with more solid colour. The default "hallway" perspective makes the arrows come closer to you (IN 3D) as they approach the step zone, though this can be changed to the more conventional "overhead" perspective. If one chooses to turn some mods on (or is playing certain courses), the arrows will weave, spin, and bounce all over the place and yet still somehow be possible to read.
In The Groove was based on the open source rhythm game engine Step Mania, and this fact is utilized today for "hacking" of many of the machines, adding new songs or themes.
The game was developed by Roxor Games (and ITG2 was co-published with Andamiro), however due to a lawsuit Konami now owns the rights to the game. Most of the original team went on to form a new team to create a Spiritual Successor as a Pump It Up spinoff.
ITG displays examples of:
- Announcer Chatter: In comparison to DDR, averted. No announcer at all.
- Button Mashing: Rolls.
- Critical Annoyance: No sharks here, but the background behind the arrows flashes red when a player is failing, and then just goes dark after failure.
- Damn You, Muscle Memory!
- Dance Sensation: Quite a bit
- Difficulty Spike: A lot of people find Fly With Me's Expert chart more annoying than hard. Does a 9 footer really need all those jumps?
- Then there's Disconnected Disco. The Expert Double chart is just a contortionist's dream.
- Double Play: Has a separate set of high scores for every song and course, and a separate set of completion tracker. Not played as much as Single style. And just as stupid at times. With a few exceptions almost every official double chart in the series were written by M. Emirizan. The library of custom double stepcharts is very limited compared to custom singles.
- Easier Than Easy: Novice Mode, which provides similar assists to DDR's Beginner Mode (but with no 3D characters promoting improper foot placement, and forced consistent speed for all songs)
- Cute Kitten: Little Kitty Mine Mine~
- Exergaming: Plenty of opportunities to get a workout with these songs. Then, there was also a special version of ITG2 built mainly for fitness centers ... WITH MASS MULTIPLAYER ACTION!
- Fake Difficulty: Some fans felt this way about the introduction of "stretch jumps" in Double mode, where you would need to hit the same direction on both pads at once. The game was generally tasteful with hands and mines, but not all fan-made charts were.
- Fan Nickname: Just ITG.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: "High" on Expert Double has 420 steps.
- Guide Dang It: Averted, somehow. When obtuse and baroque hints to unlock songs and charts were released, the fanbase quickly figured them out.
- Have a Nice Death: LIFE DEPLETED. ROUND FAILED.
- Hundred-Percent Completion: Getting a score of 100% on a song by getting all Fantastics, which awards the highest grade of 4 stars. The game also tracks percent completion rate for each difficulty level on the player's USB drive, displayed at the end of a set of game.
- Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Novice, Easy, Medium, Hard, Expert
- I Know Mortal Kombat: Playing a keyboard chart on pad hardly constitutes "dancing", but rather "stomping like crazy and hoping you get a good score".
- In Name Only: Any "game" claiming to be ITG released after ITG2 is most likely a fan expansion.
- Interface Screw: Marathon mode, which is essentially like DDR's Nonstop modes, except that they use scripted distortions and other effects assembled from the game's normal modifiers to make it harder.
- Once people started figuring out how to jailbreak ITG machines, custom Marathon courses started going Serial Escalation(especially the Insomnia series.)
- The Jimmy Hart Version: Plenty based on DDR songs.
- The first game has "Disconnected" for "PARANOiA", "I Think I Like That Sound" for "Drop Out", "Hand of Time" for "Healing Vision", and "Pandemonium" for "Gamelan de Couple".
- The second has "Energizer" for "MAX 300", which even incorporates a JHV of the slow part of "neoMAX", a fan remix of "MAX 300". "Energizer" piles on the references to the MAX series especially thick. It's very likely named as it is due to "Energizer Max" batteries, it has a big jump followed by slow section in the middle (though it's longer and brighter than the Legend of Max X slowdown), and the first few steps of the Hard chart is a mirrored image of Legend of Max X's Medium chart.
- Not every Suspiciously Similar Song in ITG is taken from DDR though. The second game has "Determinator" for "You Are What You Is".
- Level Editor: This is Step Mania, some people have hacked ITG2 arcade machines and installed additional Step Mania songs into their arcade machine's hard drives. With ITG2 version r21 or later, Step Mania songs can be loaded from USB flash drives, provided the arcade owner has enabled custom songs support.
- There actually has one built-in. Except you're not supposed to be able to get at it. The home versions have an Edit Mode, and can also accept edit files from it alongside save data on USB drives.
- Loads and Loads of Loading / Porting Disaster: The PS2 port.
- Luck-Based Mission: In addition to "Random" (Step Mania "Shuffle", inherited from DDR), the "Blender" modifier (Step Mania "Super Shuffle", not in DDR).
- Actually, "Random" and "Blender" (and by extension "Shuffle" and "Super Shuffle") produce learnable results as they are the results of an algorithm that produces the same chart every time. Random picks one direction and assigns it to another (for example all lefts become rights and all ups become lefts), while Blender assigns each individual arrow to another direction.
- Lucky Charms Title: the song "!", pronounced "bang", same as the way programmers pronounce an exclamation point in certain contexts.
- Marathon Level: With patch r21 of ITG2 (only), long custom songs more than 2 minutes can be played using audio files with distorted headers. Patch r23 automatically cuts off songs at the 2:15 mark. OpenITG allows arcade owner to specify maximum custom song length.
- Nintendo Hard: The whole point of the series and is all about the expert difficulty charts included in almost every song, with a MINIMUM difficulty 9 blocks, a rating labelled as "Catastrophic" in the early DDR mixes. You will be performing passages containing continuous 16th note streams at significantly fast tempos using your feet, so speed mods are essentially mandatory by this point, and the "speed mod = cheating" debate back in the DDR Extreme days is now officially dead.
- Also, DDR games started ramping up their speed to similar levels a couple years after In The Groove came out. Unfortunately, this only applied to a select few songs, making it really hard to get up to that level in DDR without also playing ITG, which has many, many more "stepping stone" charts. Official ITG expert charts would be rated within the 13-18 range on the DDR X rating scale.
- The majority of custom song packs are available with only expert charts with difficulty STARTING at 9-block difficulty too.
- When these expert-only custom packs are hacked into a arcade cabinet that charges people money to play, and a new player still at beginner level ends up picking the song with only an expert chart, resulting in instant Game Over, wasting an entire credit.
- Oh yeah, hello Double Expert?
- Non-Indicative Name: Rolls appear to be one at first, as you don't have to roll to hit one of these. But then you realize it's like a drumroll.
- Nonstandard Game Over: "ROUND FAILED...[skull]" in ITG 1, "ROUND FAILED^2" in ITG 2. Both of those come from failing the hardest song from each game.
- Rank Inflation: Ranging from F to S+ all the way to Quad Stars)
- Rhythm Game
- Screwed by the Lawyers: Roxor was sued over this game due to it having the exact same gameplay as DDR, and perhaps its cabinet conversion kits (the concept of having arcade cabinets that can be retrofitted for different games, is by the way, Older Than the NES)
- Self-Imposed Challenge (Mod-stacking, Great Attacking)
- Spiritual Successor: After the Konami scandal, most of the core developers left to form a new development operation with Andamiro (who had built cabinets for and published ITG2), a Pump It Up spin-off called "Pump it Up Pro", which carried over concepts and features from ITG (Step Mania engine, marathon mode, edits, etc) and combined them with Pump's gameplay mechanics.
- The Original Series: ITG1 and 2
- The Tetris Effect
- Timed Mission: Survival Mode, with minor elements of Interface Screw
- Tournament Play: Despite the game's cancellation, there are still tournaments held almost weekly by the fanbase.
- Up to Eleven / Serial Escalation: How many steps can be crammed into a chart? How fast can people move their feet? Just how many gimmicks can be thrown at people? DDR Extreme, the immediate spiritual predecessor to ITG had a difficulty scale that went to 10 and those charts already are pretty difficult to veteran players and Nintendo Hard to others. ITG's very similar rating scale goes up to 13. Custom charts as high as 19 on singles and 15 on doubles have been passed. (Note this difference between singles and double)
- On a recent poll on the highest difficulty passed on single charts, the lowest choice is now "11 and under" and highest choice "20 and above" on the old DDR grading system.
Kyzentun: I don't know if there's a trope for that kind of elitism.
- Vaporware: ITG 3 was shelved after the Konami lawsuit.