Welcome to Morning Music, Kotaku’s new, daily hangout for folks who love video games and the cool-arse sounds they make. Might want to double up on your wake-up juice of choice this morning, as it’s almost impossible not to dance and sing along to the music of Bust-A-Groove… or Bust-A-Move, depending on your region.
In the late ‘90s, perhaps spurred on by the success of 1997 PlayStation hit Parappa the Rapper, Japanese developers and Western publishers started letting some less traditional fare make its way stateside. Quirky games that would have never been localised a few years prior were finally getting the nod. Games like Metro Graphics’ Bust-A-Move (longplay, VGMdb) a wonderfully strange combination of rhythm dancing and fighting game. Bust-A-Move — or Bust-A-Groove as it was renamed in North America to avoid conflicting with the puzzle spin-off of Bubble Bobble — changed my tastes in both video games and music.
Bust-A-Groove is a series of over-the-top dance battles. The 10 playable characters each have their own signature song and dance style. Each round you and your opponent must follow a series of increasingly complex button prompts in order to keep your chosen character dancing. When the music stops, the player with the most dance energy in their metre wins. Check out this longplay for a full run-through of the game’s single-player mode. (Don’t miss the boss fight with the Capoeira aliens starting at 16:20.)
All of the songs in the game, be they disco, pop, techno, or industrial, are very memorable. It’s hard not to have a song work its way into your soul when you’ve got to focus as intently on them as you do in Bust-A-Groove. My favourite, however, is the plucky pop/funk tune that serves as the music for teen dancer Shorty and her special friend, the EZ Mouse.
She’s a kid, who wants to be a grown-up. She’s got this mouse, see? He’s the EZ mouse. Things are effortless for Shorty when he’s around. It’s heartwarming and uplifting. She tosses candy at her enemies. Maybe you’ll like it better in Japanese?
The game also includes options to turn off singing altogether and use instrumental tracks instead, but that’s what monsters do. Don’t be a monster. Just go to YouTube, find a playlist of the entire soundtrack, like this one here, and have your life changed by what ‘90s Japan thought Western music sounded like.
I’d say that’s all for today’s Morning Music, but y’all are going to be humming this stuff all day long. Feel free to complain about that or just chat about life in the comments.