DP Overview

DP Beginner

DP Intermediate

Table of contents
  1. Introduction
  2. FAQ
    1. Do I need to play SP before getting into DP?
    2. How do I get started?
    3. How do I scratch?
    4. Do I really need to avoid old charts?
    5. What gauge should I be using?
    6. Should I be using random?
    7. What about BMS?
    8. Should I be practicing one-hand?
    9. Should I be using DBM and DBR as practice?
    10. How do I get better?
    11. I’m playing at home, how do I set up my controllers?
  3. Mindset & motivation
  4. The DP 10th dan wall


DP is a game mode in IIDX that uses all 14 keys and both turntables.

This does not mean that DP is 2x harder than SP! It’s better to view DP as an entirely different game from SP, it just happens to share the same list of songs.

The biggest difference comes from charting style. Patterns that are trivial in SP can be a nightmarish thing in DP, such as stairs. You will be required to use all of your fingers, including the ones on your non-dominant hand that you don’t use to press buttons in SP.

It’s certainly a niche game mode. According to class mode data – players with at least 7th Kyu at the end of Bistrover – there were 53214 active players for SP and but only 8566 for DP.

In SP, you have more fingers than the number of buttons; you spent a lot of effort learning one or two playstyles, mostly to figure out which hand should be used to hit button 3 while having the the turntable in reach. The end game is settling on a mostly-static playstyle to handle dense patterns.

In DP, the opposite is true; there are more buttons than your fingers, so you learn by necessity how to juggle N:N mapping between your fingers and the buttons. The end game is being as flexible as possible, hitting buttons in a fluid hand motion; much like playing the piano, or typing on a keyboard.

DP has become more accessible over the years, especially after SPADA. For full history, see IIDX history page.


Do I need to play SP before getting into DP?

It’s not necessary. SP and DP are two modes of the game game, but they might as well be different games.

That being said, if you’re at-home player getting into the game, you might want to get one controller first, see if you like IIDX at all, and then get a second controller for DP later on.

How do I get started?

Press numpad key 3 to switch between SP and DP. This can be done in mode select or song select.

First of all, read Basic finger placement first and fully internalize the home position (12467, 13457). This is the bread and butter of all things DP.

There are two schools of thought on how to begin DP. You can read both and pick a method you like:

With just these, you have all the tools you need to pass 9th dan. Especially if you are coming from SP (or other similar rhythm games) you should be able to make it to 9th dan without needing to read up on a lot of theory. Practice will be necessary carry you there, of course.

Some say (half-jokingly) that the home position is all you need to know to easy clear every 12.

How do I scratch?

You should be scratching on the side closer to the keys (right side of 1P TT and left side of 2P TT). You should scratch in an upward motion (hand away from your body) – except to handle consecutive scratches of course, where you’ll need to go up and down. When you are done scratching, you should quickly move back to the keys.

dp scratching

It’s important that you get used to this now, since habits go a long way. When you get to high level charts, you will be required to quickly switch back and forth between the keys and the turntable.

Do I really need to avoid old charts?

When starting out, it is suggested that you avoid old charts. The community’s opinion varies, but typically it’s suggested that you avoid charts from HAPPY SKY and older.

In early IIDX days, when playing SP mode with two players, 1P and 2P received different charts. This was a concept that was carried over from 5-key beatmania series, allowing each player to play different parts of a song. During these times, DP was a mode that allowed one player to play both the 1P and 2P chart simultaneously. Over time, this idea was phased out, and eventually abandoned; however, the charts from older games remain. This means that some older DP charts are meant to be played by two players, so you occasionally encounter things like impossible scratches (e.g., 1P scratch + 1 + 7).

Of course, it’s entirely optional. You are free to play them, just know that it’s OK to completely fail them; they are not a good measure of your overall skill.

Once you get to 11s you should play all the charts, including the old ones. Tier lists will guide you from there.

Here is an example - R3 is a song from 1st Style, and its DPA was added in Happy Sky. Although it’s a level 8, it’s rated 9.3 by the community, as it contains several instances of impossible scratches.

What gauge should I be using?

You should stick to easy gauge in most scenarios. Once you get more comfortable, you can try to hard clear songs that you have easy-cleared.

In DP, you are prone to make more small mistakes compared to SP; pressing the wrong button, missing the key entirely, making excessive poors, and so on. This applies to players at any level, including kaidens! Easy gauge helps you focus on the big picture of learning how to read the pattern and moving your fingers accordingly. Normal gauge is too strict for this purpose; even if you did well overall, if you make a few small mistakes near the end, you can end up with a stage fail; this really isn’t all that helpful and may discourage you from playing more.

That being said, hard gauge should also be used occasionally to reduce the mistakes you make.

DP players in general stick to easy and hard gauge, including skilled players who are progressing through 12s.

Should I be using random?

No. You should not use random until you get to high-level 12s.

If you enable RANDOM on either side, you may end up with very difficult pattens that are well outside your skill range. You may also end up with impossible scratches.

The general recommendation is:

  • If you are playing level 11 and below, stick to OFF (non-ran) or FLIP/MIR/MIR (complete mirror of the entire chart).
  • If you are playing high-level 11s and low-level 12s, feel free to start experimenting with partially mirrored patterns. This would be: OFF, MIR/OFF, OFF/MIR, MIR/MIR, FLIP, FLIP/MIR/OFF, FLIP/OFF/MIR, ane FLIP/MIR/MIR. In Japanese this is called 正規系.
  • When you start playing 12.4, you’ll already understand what patterns call for RANDOM. You can also check out DP12 Recommended Options page.

What about BMS?

Just like with SP, playing BMS is indeed a good way to practice IIDX DP at home. There are some things worth noting:

  • Normal scale (delta / δ) DP charts are not as good, compared to the quality of charts in SP normal 1/2 scale or IIDX DP charts. The selection is small, charting style feel a bit outdated, and so on.
  • Therefore, you can wait until you can play charts in DP Satellite or DP Insane. This would typically be around 10th dan.
  • Excessive POORs and BADs are common in DP (more than in SP) and unfortunately this is where the implementation in LR2, beatoraja, and IIDX differ greatly. See here for details.

For more, refer to the page on Insane BMS.

Should I be practicing one-hand?

Generally, no.

One hand doesn’t really teach you how to read 14 keys. When you are starting out, learning to read is more important than having your finger muscles trained. Stick to DP mode and focus on correctly reading all 14 keys, while maintaining the home position for both hands.

If you feel that one hand is severely behind the other hand, you should try playing DBM for a bit to bring both hands to a similar level (see next section below).

Should I be using DBM and DBR as practice?

The general consensus among DP players is that DBM should not be a replacement practicing DP. The issue is that skills required to play DBM are vastly different from what regular DP requires.

DBM can still be useful for:

  • as a learning tool for players new to DP
  • When you need to bring up your non-dominant hand up to speed with your dominant hand; e.g., if your left hand is significantly worse than your right hand, when your left hand can’t hit certain chords that your right hand can.
  • Learning a specific set of skills; e.g., stairs.
  • Having fun with symmetric charts.

DBR is an extremely useful tool but it is very difficult. It’s suggested that you wait until you reach mid-tier 12s; at that point DBR can be a valuable practice.

How do I get better?

Once you get to 9th dan - 10th dan level, you should read up on Stairs, and start to familiarize yourself with advanced techniques below:

You don’t need to be fully proficient in these, but it’s good to know what will be expected from players playing level 12s.

I’m playing at home, how do I set up my controllers?

See arcade cab dimensions page.

Mindset & motivation

When learning to play through DP, your biggest enemy will be losing interest in the game, or not having the motivation to keep playing on regular basis.

Typically IIDX DP is not the first rhythm game people get into; usually, people come from IIDX SP. It is common for these players to compare their progress to their current SP skill level and quickly lose interest in the game.

“Why is playing DP 10 so difficult? When can I get to 11s? I think I would rather play SP 12” – something like this is what drive people to not touch DP again. One possible explanation is the concept of flow state - your brain is used to high-skill and high-challenge game of SP and the reward that comes with it, but playing DP at comparatively lower challenge level does not tickle the same brain cells.

Some helpful tips would be:

  • Watch videos of highly skilled players and get motivated.
  • Don’t compare your SP and DP progress or skill level, think of them as two different games.
  • Eventually, you can get to DP 12s and have the same rewarding experience again as you did in SP. Many DP players end up quitting SP because they find DP more fun in the end; but it might take a while to get to that point.
  • DP 10th dan will hit you like a brick wall. You’re not alone! Don’t see it as a stopping point, but rather a mountain to climb.
  • If you don’t think you’re up for the challenge later, it’s totally OK to quit now. It’s just a video game, some people get enjoyment out of niche games that require obscure skill set, and some people don’t.

The DP 10th dan wall

According to this page, based on Heroic Verse data,

  • 6th dan = 1156 players
  • 7th dan = 1459 players
  • 8th dan = 1058 players
  • 9th dan = 1421 players
  • 10th dan = 558 players
  • Chuuden = 600 players
  • Kaiden = 642 players

… you can see that there is a huge fall-off from 9th to 10th. This is unique to DP data and not seen in SP distribution. This happens because for 10th dan is universally a giant “wall” to overcome for most DP players. Reaching DP 9th dan is very doable by casually playing DP once in a while as a side game, playing SP at the same time; however, getting to 10th dan seems to take much more conscious effort; this is when DP starts to get serious. Many people lose interest in DP and quit before reaching 10th dan.

In SP, 9th dan is composed of low-tier 12s, and SP 10th dan has mid-tier 12s. On the other hand, DP 9th dan is mid-to-high 11s, whereas DP 10th is mid-tier 12s. There is a significant jump in difficulty.

Raison d’être 〜交差する宿命〜 is usually the problem for most players, as you can see in the last song in the video above. The pattern shows bursts on each individual side, which is not often encountered by players at this level. It’s also full of stair and stair-like patterns which call for middle-5 and middle-6, techniques you are not yet expected to know yet!

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