For such a large and varied game, there are quite a few things you can do to give yourself an additional edge when trying to play through this game. Although the only way to get better at this game is time and devotion, you can make getting there a little simpler and your overall ability to do certain things a little less annoying if you take heed to some of the tips listed here.
Beginner player tips
- Learn patterns and how to hit certain combinations of arrows quickly...when you are stuck on a pattern from a song, open it up in the Stepmania song editor and play that part over and over again until you understand the pattern...or observe the patterns to get a better understanding of how to hit them. By doing this, your body will ascertain a large memory base of how to hit certain patterns, and as you get better instead of having to think of what to do...the arrow combinations will actually set off the instructions you need to hit the arrows instead, making response time WAY faster. Also, if you want to get a better understanding of a pattern...create the pattern in the SM file editor and try to play through it, you don't ALWAYS have to use the SM file editor for creating and editing SM files...it can be much more than just that.
- USE C-MOD!! Even your score may be disqualified or your clear mark may be downgraded to assist clear, it is worth the cost. I can't explain enough how much using a C-mod will help you out when trying to read patterns and worrying less about song memorization.
- Play StepMania at least 30 minutes every 2 days...trust me...it helps a lot. Also, if you really like StepMania, you will easily surpass this minimum qualification. Leaving StepMania for weeks at a time will seriously take a toll on your overall game skills...and can make you start a few pegs before where you were just that following week.
- It's okay to hit the arrow keys before arrows come to the space if nothing is going on at the moment. If you want to press an arrow key when the person sings while also hitting the guitar riffs that are actually stepped, go ahead. So long as the arrow is 0.18000 (18 hundredths) or more away (in official standards), you will not be penalized in any way (unless you are playing "beat" (beatmania/IIDX) game mode, in this case there will be a small life penalty but not a miss). Doing this helps you get additionally into the SM file that you are playing...which gets you more into the game overall because you are having more fun. Also, if you wish to whammy a hold note (press the key the hold note is on repeatedly instead of just holding it) that won't diminish your points either (as long as you don't let go of the hold key for more than 1/4 second, which is way longer than most people like to whammy). Although DON'T whammy too quickly if you KNOW the note after the hold note is the same key as the one you are currently holding (usually not done unless it is emulating multiple hold notes of the same pitch).
- If you fail a song, try not to get too frustrated about it, there are times when songs could have been passed but aern't that can be really frustrating...but try to put it past you. If you are getting angry to the point where you start damaging things over the game...you probably shouldn't play to prevent self injury, and other property damage.
Intermediate player tips
- Up your C-mod! How? Change your StepMania's theme to something else. There is a REALLY amazing theme that has a full range of all the C and X-mods you would ever want (along with amazing other features) called Cyberia Style, and it's latest update to Cyberia Style 6 -Consciousness to Cyber- has just been recently released! You can download this theme and install it into your StepMania themes by taking the folder "Cyberia Style 6 -Consciousness to Cyber-" folder and placing it in the "themes" folder for Stepmania, then going to Appearance options in StepMania, and changing the theme to it. You'll love the improvement, but if you want other themes to choose from, check out all of these different themes, I'm sure one of them will definitely suit your fancy!
- Get harder songs! If you are getting a lot better at StepMania...try to find yourself a lot of rather hard songs to try to complete. The more crazy the patterns seem to you...the easier the other songs you have will be...and the more responsive to patterns your mind will eventually be. This of coarse, goes hand in hand with upping your C-mod.
- Try stepping your own songs, as if you start familiarizing yourself with the core of StepMania, then patterns and other things from other songs will also become easier and more familiar to you. If you step a song the way indicated in the Creating songs portion of this StrategyWiki guide, you will quickly be able to gain overall skill from stepping songs of your own. Don't forget you can open other songs you are having trouble with in the SM editor as well...and try to get the patterns down pat that way, instead of replaying a song 5 times to try to get a 2 second pattern...which can get very annoying VERY fast.
Advanced player tips
- Use the FC/AP indicator to let you know in the song, whether it is still possible to Full Combo or All Perfect the song, respectively.
- Up your C-mod even more! Trust me...the faster you can successfully play StepMania in terms of C-modding, the more responsive you will be to patterns of all types.
- It is time for you to experience your entrance to the crazy difficulty of both correctly and incorrectly stepped joy and horror of something that can only be described as the Hard Songs Megapack collection. So far there are 10 packs of a huge collaboration of SM files made specifically for the intent of being nothing more than ridiculously difficult, instead of being focused on pure quality and attentiveness to accuracy. This is where your real StepMania career begins...you can experience some of the madness and download a few of the .rar files, or maybe just one or two songs you like from a certain pack. Once you can play the majority of these files good...StepMania truly begins to become amazingly enjoyable and epic, as now you have to put in your whole being to succeed in playing files like these (well, some of them anyway).
- In a series of hand notes....don't waste your time thinking about which goes with what if they are going too fast for you. Just hit them accurately as you would a series of quad notes, and you will combo as if you did everything perfectly as hands!
- Keep up the StepMania play time minimum!! You have much more to lose now then you did when you started. Not playing for just a week now can make you lose a decent chunk of your skill you have to work for to get back again. At least 30 minutes every two days will keep it afloat! After playing for a few years, you may remain highly skilled without playing, however you will not be able to push yourself to the limits you once had.
- Mashing doesn't work....UNLESS you use a special trick that will keep your life bar afloat. This is due to early/late "Miss" judgments. This only works on genuinely hard songs where the arrows are nice and close together, so don't try doing this for significantly easy songs as it will fail you. If there is a pattern you cannot read in a SM file during a song as it is moving way to fast...estimate HOW FAST the arrows are going, and use your judgment of WHICH ARROWS ARE BEING HIT to use two and three finger key combinations that may not truly match the pattern, or have any actual thought put into them aside from pure guess. If you can get the timing correct, you should be able to keep your life bar at about a steady area until a part you can read surfaces. Keep in mind though that if you have to do this for TOO long...the effect will eventually catch up to you, and chances are you will fail.
- When faced with very close jacks or rolls, depending on your keyboard, do not panic and hit all four keys at the same time! Note: if your keyboard doesn't support some form of n-key rollover, it's going to be more difficult to hit more than two arrows at a time. If affected StepMania will not properly recognize when you press all four keys at the same time, and you will fail the song quite quickly because you will miss one or all of the arrows. Instead of hitting all four keys, hit only the first two keys of the roll, then the next two keys in the sequence. For example, for a fast roll like, left, up, down, right hit the 1 and 2 keys first as a double note, and then the 3 and 4 keys as the second double note and vice-versa. This also applies to a series of jacks coming up on all four arrows. Your computer, if handicapped by design flaws, will recognize this much better than quad holding (consistently pressing all four keys at the same time), and can keep you alive, or even add to your life bar very quickly if done perfectly.
- When faced with consistent doubles, don't quad hold, hit three keys if you have to...but if your hit four, StepMania occasionally takes this as mashing, and screws you over for it. Overtime, consistent double notes should actually be a breeze for you, the advanced player
- Converse and challenge others who are also advanced players...the motivation to strive to be as good or better than them will keep you going to become EVEN BETTER at the game.
- USE PRINTSCREEN! If you completed a song with a run you think has bragging rights, when the score appears, hit "printscreen" so that StepMania takes an automatic screen shot of that score (saved in the C:/Program files/StepMania/Screenshots/ folder) it really helps! Oh and if you don't know where the printscreen keys is...it should be right NEXT to the Scroll lock key (unless you have one of those oddly designed keyboards which not too many people own).