Tuesday, February 26, 2013

BaD Tunes Tuesdays: Bust A Groove My Gaming Timeline: Rythm-Action Games Feb 05, 2013 11:11AM PST

Some of you, as in whoever I had on my list of friends before BaD, know that I do a blog series called My Gaming Timeline, wherein I talk about all the games I grew up playing, and how they impacted me. If you want to read those, my greeting on my homepage has links to what I've written so far.

I've also recently started a series called My Music Timeline, in which I admit I liked Hanson in second grade (I was seven or eight, and it was around Nineteen-Ninety-Eight, hush!), among other embarassing ways I grew into my current, almost polar opposite from my seven-year-old self music tastes... well, maybe not polar opposite, since one of the first Compact Discs I bought was also Garbage: Version 2.0 in the same year, and I do still love Garbage... and a decent amount of pop music. Hmm... well, my high school years were polar opposite of my middle school tastes, what with all that heavy metal, but I guess now it's just come full circle to me liking a bit of everything.

Anyway, my point is, I figured, since it's BaD and all, why not combine those two ideas into something special. So, for this blog, I'll be letting you know some of my favorite ryhtm-action videogames, why I like them, and some of my favorite songs from them. I'll also consider this a My Gaming Timeline entry.

First though, let me get out of the way why at least a couple popular titles that I won't be discussing, cause while I knew of them, I didn't play them much, or at all.

I figured the worse the quality, the less your PC would lag when scrolling through this blog.

You're Welcome!

Yes, while a lot of you might have fond memories of Parappa the Rapper, my only memory is that this was actually one of the reasons I asked for a Nintendo 64 for Christmas instead of a Playstation, which my older brother would get later.

See, while Nintendo 64 had released in the U.S. in Nineteen-Ninety-Six alongside Mario 64, I don't know that I even knew of it until Nineteen-Ninety-Seven, when they were running both Star Fox 64 and Parappa the Rapper ads, and I got it in my head that those were the system's respective killer apps; granted, I didn't know the phrase "killer app" existed when I was seven, but you get my point.

I was not at all a fan of rap music at the time, but I was a huge fan of thinking this would actually happen if I bought the amazing-looking Star Fox 64 plus a rumble pak.... what could actually happen you ask? That I could misremember there being an ad in which a boy's house falls apart from the rumble pak causing an earthquake, but all I found on Youtube was a 30 second clip of some boy playing it in a poorly lit military bunker, and an 8 minute Nintendo Power promotion. Memory: always better than reality.

Anyway, the point is, Parappa didn't interest me at the time.

You also won't be seeing much of Dance Dance Revolution. Only ever played it in arcades, and couldn't tell you much about it, except there was a King of the Hill episode about it, and one time in real life a large group of high-school-aged Asian kids hogged the machine, and the two playing had lightning quick feet. Being white as hell and literally flat-footed, I wasn't great at it, and found it kind of embarassing to play.

Now, onto the games I will be discussing.

I Find This Catchy. Don't Judge. You're Judging.

So you might be wondering why a Playstation game that has more or less the same concept would be on here, when I just told you Parappa the Rapper commercials were part of the reason I got a Nintendo 64 instead. One word: neighbors.

Yes, while my brother got his Playstation soon after I got my Nintendo 64, he wasn't exactly the type to enjoy rythym action games, but for some reason, my next door neighbors would often be playing or invite me to play the very obscure Bust-A-Groove.

I loved playing it, because I thought a lot of the songs were catchy, the characters were creative, and I actually got really good at it, since it didn't involve my awkward attempts at dancing, just making sure you could memorize patterns and stick to a rythm with your button presses.

My favorite character to play as was, embarassingly enough, Kitty-N, a dancing humanoid cat-lady. Her song and stage was actually my favorite, and since her song was the only one I remembered mentioning Bust-A-Groove in its lyrics, I got the impression she was the star of the game. Hell, her stage was a dance studio, she seemed like she'd be the most serious competitor.

I don't know why, but when characters clapped at the end of a line in this game,

it felt satisfying for some reason.

I forget who Jonathon usually played as, but my neighbor Zach's favorite was Heat, who was probably more of a star in the game, considering he was on the cover. I actually like the rapping segments in Heat's song, but I always found the chorus kind of boring, and often heard it as the word "potato" repeated on a loop.

Another character whose stage I found memorable was Kelly's, which I found both annoying, cause of the song, and creepy, cause I thought that was a giant baby bottle, not a juicer. I'm still not entirely convinced. And of course, I enjoyed the final stage with giant robot, Robo Z.

We also played Bust-A-Groove 2, which improved on the original in terms of graphics, sound quality, and added some new moves and goofy characters, like Hamm and Burger Dog but was in many was very similar to the original. Enough so that I'll let you look it up on your own if interested, cause I don't have much more to say.

Then of course came the Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises, which I really don't have much to say about either, other than I liked the guitar-centric songs on the former as a metalhead in high school when it came out, and I liked the broader appeal and added instruments of the latter. If you want to ask what songs I liked or didn't from those games, just ask, cause there are way too many, and I don't want to write an essay about them in here. I will say that I'd known of Dragonforce before Guitar Hero III from the video for "Through The Fire and the Flames," and there was a girl in our senior lounge in high school that would own that song on expert. Also, my favorite song to "sing" in Rock Band was "Give it Away" by RHCP.

But by far the game I remember most in terms of rythm-action titles is Elite Beat Agents for the DS.

Not only did this game have a great, goofy storyline chock-full of weird Japanese humor, revolving around a secretive, FBI-like agency that cheered people up through song-and-dance once the head of the organization sent his cheerleaders (both men in MIB-style suits and literal female cheerleaders) to a crime scene Charlie's Angels style, but there was a fantastic amount of range in its collection of pop songs.

Not only did it have some childhood favorites of mine, like "Sk8er Boi" by Avril Lavigne (no, my tastes didn't stop being embarassing after Hanson), "Y.M.C.A" by Village People, "September" by Earth, Wind and Fire, and "The Anthem" by Good Charlotte, as well as a Sum 41 song I'd only heard on a DVD I owned that came with their Does this Look Infected to You? CD, it also turned me onto some great songs I may not have heard otherwise, like "Highway Star" by Deep Purple (I'd only known "Smoke on the Water"), "Canned Heat" by Jamiroquai, "You're the Inspiration" by Chicago, "Let's Dance" by David Bowie, and "Jumpin' Jack Flash" by The Rolling Stones ("Paint it Black" is still my favorite by them; Black Dahlia Murder's cover is good too). 

Hell, even including the bonus stages, the only song I can really say I didn't like on at least some level was Madonna's "Material Girl." I actually do like the occassional song by her, such as "Like a Prayer," but holy hell is that song annoying, not to mention the prissy lyrics. While we're on the subject I do like a lot of Lady Gaga's songs as well. "Material Girl" is still my shining example of the worst in female-sung pop music, though.

Most importantly however, the gameplay was also downright addicting, and actually had a really steady and linear difficulty curve, which I appreciated. That is, outside of what is my favorite song, yet least favorite level, in which I swear to you, the rythm and notes you're supposed to be hitting barely match up at all.

Ok, so the trick is to follow his voice more than the instruments for the rythm,

but those notes still sneak up on you like car-dealing ninjas!

I won't spoil the silly-but-awesome ending for you, and if you love music, you'll appreciate the message, but I encourage anyone with a DS to buy this game. It gets incredibly tough, and I got extremely frustrated the first time I played "Jumpin' Jack Flash," but I was still hooked enough to get all S ranks on every difficulty setting. It's that good.

Let me know some of your favorite ryhtm-action games, or songs from rythm-action games below!









No comments:

Post a Comment