Pop’n Music Arcade-Style Controller

Compared to Dance Dance Revolution, In the Groove, and the Guitar Hero/Rock Band series, there’s nothing particularly instrumental nor choreographed about hitting nine colorful buttons to the beat of electronic, rock, pop, and even orchestral songs. But that’s what makes Pop’n Music so fun! Obscure in the United States but popular as ever in Japan, Pop’n Music is akin to a scaled-up version of Beatmania IIDX sans a turntable, complete with an equally-challenging timing and grading scheme. Need video examples? Watch these people play some of the highest-difficulty songs, and you’ll understand why it can be a lifelong game to master: “Classic 4 (Hyper)” and “Cowboy – Blue River (EX 43)

After discovering this game series at Otakon 2007, I made it a goal to build such a custom, portable version of the controller. A fun week-long projected resulted, and working with my carpentry-adept neighbor, we cut, drilled, sanded, fastened, and finished a pine wood box that was eventually wired up with eleven arcade buttons (9 player buttons plus 2 for Start and Select) and a PlayStation 1 digital controller, complete with LED lights and a carrying handle. The final photos are below, with three examples of me playing at the PSAO‘s Import Gaming Night.