What is Stepmania?

Components of Stepmania

Ways to play


There are three main ways to play Stepmania: PC keyboard, a USB controller or a dance pad that has been adapted for use with a PC.


Keyboard: Of the three methods, keyboard play is the second easiest to use. Keys can be assigned in the input options screen for play and customized easily. It’s the second easiest to use because of the ease of selecting your keys.


USB controller: We recommend this method if you don’t have room for an actual dance pad or a dance pad at all. The best controller to use is a Logitech USB that simulates a Dual Shock PlayStation controller. The directional pad and buttons can be set up to mimic playing any DDR or In the Groove game released with four arrows. This is not recommended for five-arrow games such as Pump It Up, unless the simfiles have been translated to DDR/ITG style.


Dance pad: If you can find a dance pad that has USB connections or can make your own, a dance pad is the best method to play and the easiest. This best recreates the DDR/ITG/Pump experience and is the most authentic.

What is Stepmania?


Stepmania is a PC program designed to mimic many of the dancing/rhythm games currently or formerly on the market, such as Dance Dance Revolution, In the Groove and Pump It Up. With Stepmania, documents and packages known as simfiles can be installed into a program that simulates one of the above games using one of the series’ interface.

How to setup?

Downloading and extracting the program is easy and can be done quickly. Once the program is installed, you can then add components into the folders in the program’s directory. Stepmania, by default, comes with everything you need aside from songs. Here is a list of the required and optional components:











CD titles

Getting started

Once songs are downloaded (either in single form or in bulk known as bumper packs), they can then be added to an appropriately labeled category folder. We suggest adding any official rhythm game songs to their debut mix and separating them from other non-rhythm game categories. For example, GI has official DDR songs categorized by their official debut mix, anime theme songs in a category specifically for anime and J-Pop and K-Pop real world songs in a different folder for that purpose only. Categorization is the key for organizing many songs, especially when a collection can grow to number in the thousands or more.


After adding the songs to their appropriate categories, take the time to add a special banner for that group. This makes categorization easier and enhances the look of your setup. Once the setup in File Explorer is complete, launch the program. Stepmania will automatically load all songs in the Songs folder, a process that should take a few seconds or minutes depending on the number of songs added.

There are several major components to Stepmania. These components, required or optional, enhance the program and can help simulate the official experience of rhythm games or a certain overall theme. Some of these components are dependent on the version of the program that you use: Some themes and noteskins only work with Stepmania 3.95 Alpha, Stepmania 4 or Stepmania 5.



Noteskins can be used to replicate the official note graphics used in any of the rhythm games or can be anything the creator wants them to be.



Dancers, which are used in Dance Dance Revolution, are characters for select to represent the player in the background of songs. Dancers can be turned off in StepMania or not installed.



Courses are optional playlists of songs usually set around a certain theme. Officially, these appear in the home versions of DDR or in the arcade version of the series as Oni mode, but in Stepmania any song installed for play can be used to create a course.



Any voice files can be used to create what is known as announcer packs in Stepmania. Most players use the official DDR voice files, which are known by the mix that they appear in, but any collection that has been put together for the purpose of announcing can be used.



A theme is a collection of images and graphics used to represent a particular idea in Stepmania. A designer will create their own theme and offer it for download, though if you’re attempting to replicate any of the rhythm game series, there are themes specifically designed to recreate a particular game.


Speed Mods

Though these are traditionally not found for download, these can be optionally added to the program to change options for speeds used in songs. You can create any speed mod that you wish and have it appear on the options screen of any theme.



Songs are the only required components that must be downloaded before starting a session to play. Any song can be imported, which means there are millions of choices for potential playing. Song files should be in one of two formats, either MP3 or OGG. There is no limitation for the number of songs that can be added to the program or on the length of a song. Songs can be downloaded from a number of different places online, either individually or in packs, which are called bumper packs, or user created.


A simfile is a document that contains all of the necessary data for a song to be played in Stepmania. A simfile usually is created within Notepad and coded with song information and stepcharts that will be read by the program to simulate a song found in any rhythm game.


A banner is a picture that represents the title of a song. Usually, these are packaged with a simfile, song file and background. This is displayed on the interface of Stepmania within a chosen theme.


Backgrounds are included as either video or a static picture, to be represented in the background of a simfile. The background usually represents a song, much like the banner.

Simfile package

Usually, a song, simfile, banner and background will packaged for download. This makes installing songs easier because all of the necessary components are together.