Solution: Concert Stage

Written by aki

The first step is to solve the crossword provided, which would look like this.


Upon solving the crossword we notice that the clues with the question marks spell out the cluephrase STEP FIRST FOUR BARS, that a version A is relevant in this puzzle, and that there are a couple of clues that do not match their fills. The clues that do not match the fill are listed below, identifiable also by the fact that they are complete sentences in the clues (indicated as they end in ‘.’ and a [number]), unlike the other clues.

Now we turn to the fill of the mismatched clues. We can read a sentence off using these words from top to bottom, which gives “IN THIS GAME, USE YOUR FEET AND DANCE TO THE BEAT”. Searching this sentence, we find that this is first line of the song Lesson by DJ, which turns out to be the training song used in the popular dance game, Dance Dance Revolution.

Piecing the cluephrases and mismatched clues together, we find that we are interested in the game Dance Dance Revolution A, and that the clues each refer to a particular song and chart in the game (a resource like this Remywiki article might help). Naturally, we should order the songs by the first line of the song Lesson by DJ.

Fill Clue Song Chart level
IN Describes something or someone that will not give up chasing what it wants, even if it is difficult. [34] Pursuer Difficult
THIS What you might ask a dance instructor if you did not know how to execute a basic movement. [11] Show me your moves Basic
GAME What one might say to their partner after becoming experts in their relationship. [27] Love You More Expert
USE You might have a difficult time when writing dates after time rolls over to this every 100 years. [24] New Century Difficult
YOUR A naive beginner to hardship would say this. [6] Life is beautiful Beginner
FEET Describes a full revolution by the number of basic units of angle used. [9] MAX 360 Basic
AND This would be a difficult endeavour unless you know the answer to “Who you gonna call?”. [22] Vanquish the Ghost Difficult
DANCE What an expert would call cherry blossoms when viewed in a mirror. [27] Sakura Reflection Expert
TO Division of the most basic unit of life. [1] Cytokinesis Basic
THE A difficult section of a game where one battles all the hardest enemies in quick succession. [8] Boss Rush Difficult
BEAT MSX-BASIC error raised when an invalid parameter is used. [15] Illegal Function Call Basic

At this point we need to recall the cluephrase STEP FIRST FOUR BARS. We need to read off the first four bars of steps in the respective charts. One way to obtain these steps is to find a DDR stepchart library such as this one. Alternatively, YouTube videos, can be used which should also be fairly simple after listening to the songs and watching the charts (the beats are given by the flashing of the arrows, and every song has 4 beats in a bar). Examples of YouTube videos that can be used for each song is linked below. Doing this we obtain the following steps (bars are separated below by /). In the case of jumps (two arrows at the same time, indicated in parentheses below), we take both arrows since it does not matter which order the movement is applied during extraction. The numbers at the bottom of the puzzle indicate the number of steps taken for each song in order, which helps to confirm the order of extraction, as well as whether jumps and hold notes are included (they are).

Chart Steps Total no. Extraction
Pursuer (Difficult) ↑↓↓(↓→)(←↓) / ↑↓↓(←↓)→↓→↓↑ / ←→→(←→)(↓↑) / →↓↑↑←←↓↓↑→ 34 H
Show me your moves (Basic) ←←↑ / →→↑ / ←←↓ / (←→) 11 E
Love You More (Expert) ←→↓↑(←→) / ↓↑←↓↑→↓ / ↑←↑↓→↑↓ / ↑→(↓→)↑(←↓) 27 A
New Century (Difficult) ←↑↓→↑↓ / ←↓↑→↑↓← / →↑↓←↑↓ / ↑←↑↓→ 24 D
Life is beautiful (Beginner) ← / ↑ / → / ↑↑↑ 6 L
MAX 360 (Basic) →↓ / →↑ / →↓ / ↑↑↑ 9 I
Vanquish the Ghost (Difficult) ↑→↓← / ↑→↓← / ↑→↓←↑→↓← / ↑↑↓↑(←→) 22 N
Sakura Reflection (Expert) ←→↓↑←↑← / →←↓↑(←→) / ↑↓→←→↓↑ / ←←↑↓→↑↓ 27 E
Cytokinesis (Basic) ← / / / 1 A
Boss Rush (Difficult) ←→ / ↓↓ / ←→ / ↓↓ 8 C
Illegal Function Call (Basic) ←←↑← / ↓←→↑ / →→↑↓ / ←↓← 15 T

Once the steps are read off, we can extract letters from the grid (the specific cells to be extracted are highlighted in bold). Based on the clue for A, we are told that we should start from that cell each time. Moving in the direction of the steps for each song starting from the center square, we find that we are watching the HEADLINE ACT.

Author's Notes

As a DDR player myself, it was so natural to want to write a puzzle about DDR for this hunt! I do hope that some of these songs were interesting enough for solvers to listen to (for more than just the first four bars) and enjoy the music that's in the game!

I endeavored to write a “no-frills” and “pure” crossword puzzle, that is, no gimmick when filling the grid (e.g. bigrams, mismatched intersections, misspellings of words etc), and no additional components to the puzzle other than the grid and clue list. I think I was fairly successful in this respect, while writing a puzzle that has a pretty natural solve path. Because of the sheer number of missing words from the clue list, I tried to make the crossword as easy as possible to solve. Despite this, the fact that more than a third of the grid was forced due to the cluephrases and extractions meant that I'd somewhat dug my own grave into crosswordese hell. Hopefully, using standard crossword clues on some of the more iffy fills made it less frustrating!

During the hunt itself, we were informed of another puzzle that was written a while back that involved DDR with some of the exact same songs picked! However, from the initial writing to the final version, the crossword grid, solution path and extraction was changed 5 to 6 times, and so it was pretty incredible that some of the final cluephrases looked that similar. Thankfully, we reached out to Samuel, who wrote the puzzle, and he said he was happy to see another DDR puzzle written. We both agreed that songs named like Cytokinesis and Illegal Function Call are just begging for puzzles to be written about them.

Here are some clues I liked a lot but had to abandon from previous versions of this puzzle. They are not necessarily from DDR A (which was a property of previous versions of this puzzle), but contain some of my favorite songs from the game. (Click to reveal answer.)

It is a challenge for scientists to detect this particle. Neutrino (Challenge)
What happens to newborns after their mothers have gone through the challenge of labor. Come to Life (Challenge)
Going to the moon or a different planet would mean that one would have to handle this in an expert manner. New Gravity (Expert)
What an expert at eating citrus fruits might say if it was their favorite activity. Love is Orange (Expert)
What we might call this planet that has been downgraded to a more basic form if it had decendants of the same name. Pluto the First (Basic) – Did I, in a previous version of this puzzle, want solvers to extract the first four bars from PtF? Yes, yes I did >:3
Santa's elves would be experts in the work here. Toy Box Factory (Expert)
How a beginner to marriage might introduce ones' spouse. She is my wife (Beginner)
Spreads for sandwiches that do not require an expert to make. Jam & Marmalade (Expert)