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“Badly dressed child not included.”

Those of us with sufficient long term memories and a dollop of rose-tinted nostalgia for our video game obsessed childhoods will know that physically healthy video games were not established at the advent of the Wii. We are also aware that dance-based games were not invented with the launch of the “Just Dance” line. For around the turn of the century, Playstation were desperate to secure a winning franchise that involved you having to buy a plethora of additional equipment just to play with it… Buzz!, Eyetoy, and all manner of other nonsense too. Arguably the most fondly remembered of these games is the subject of this post.

Still prevalent in many an arcade to this day, Dancing Stage (or Dance Dance Revolution, as it was known in the Americas and Asia) became exceptionally popular amongst my peer group in the early noughties. Utilising the dance mat required to play the game, players had to move their feet in often insanely complicated sequences along to a combination of chart hits and a larger selection of bizarre original tracks composed specifically for the game. And this is where I get to the real purpose of the blog. I imagine up until this point you may have been wondering why I had been rambling about gaming on a site designed for the discussion of pop and politics. Well, I will enlighten you. Last year I decided to investigate the music of the “Dancing Stage” games for the purpose of a nostalgia trip and was pleasantly surprised that many of the tracks are very oddly listenable in their own right. Being around a minute and a half in length, I find some of them are like perfectly condensed versions of the crowd-pleasing dance and mindless drum and bass tracks that I enjoy otherwise. It is overwhelmingly likely that many of you will disagree, as the type of music i’m about to feature does cater to somewhat niche tastes. I will however, push ahead with an exceptionally exciting countdown of what the maniacal game announcer would undoubtedly call “cool Konami sounds!” Special mentions go out to Scotty D’s “Drop The Bomb” and Factor X’s “Wild Rush” for their narrow failure to be included my compilation of the very best. Nonetheless…

HERE WE GO!

5. NAOKI – Brilliant 2U

The first entry in this countdown could have been one of many by composing mastermind NAOKI. “Brilliant 2U” is only one of several tracks that he produced for the game, others of which include “Dynamite Rave” and “B4U.” His prolific nature on the games make him one of the most fondly remembered artists featured on the games, and I will admit that his compositions were certainly the most appealing to myself as a child. I believe this is primarily because pieces like “Brilliant 2U” owe much more to pop music that many of the others on the games. I chose this song specifically because it was the first I ever played on the game at my childminder’s house, and it fills my mind with fond memories of watching her 40-something frame utterly failing to keep in time.

4. DE-SIRE – SP-Trip Machine (Jungle Mix)

Just the very fact that the title of this track mentions it’s jungle music credentials cannot help but remind me of the brilliant Adam and Joe’s hilarious guide to making your own “edgy Brit film” many moons ago. But there is clearly nothing hip about this game original, it sure is enjoyable for a bit of fast-paced walking. The punchy majority of the song is complimented by beautifully pointless bursts of vocal and small interjections of what can only be described as “muzak.” Worth a listen if only to placate your curiosity about what on Earth the above description might actually sound like.

3. DWI – Afronova

Whilst doing the minimal research required for this piece, I discovered that this track is unsurprisingly one of the hot favourites amongst the Dance Dance Revolution enthusiasts. I will admit that it did present a real challenge for this slightly chubby 11 year old when it came to gameplay. However, it’s appeal is entirely understandable. In my later years, I have been seduced by the stupefying BPM and the strange psuedo-ethnic allure of Afronova. The attached video for this entry is a viral video of a young Asian boy I saw a while ago, completing Afronova with the skill and precision that literally no-one reading this will ever manage in their time.

2. NO. 9 – End Of The Century

Now, here is a piece of music that would likely never have existed were it not for this game. The charm of “End Of The Century” lies in it’s sheer absurdity. This panic attack of a song combines drum and bass, modern dance stylings and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. It was amongst my favourites for gameplay, and I certainly spent many an afternoon exhausting myself trying to conquer it, even if only on intermediate level! It is not a piece recommended for those of a nervous disposition, but is nonetheless relentlessly fun and represents everything that made the Dancing Stage games weirdly brilliant.

1. NAOKI – Burnin’ The Floor

And finally, we reach the nadir. I was genuinely torn as to whether this merited the top spot, but in the end was won over by it’s relentless enthusiasm and energy. I would suggest that, ludicrous middle eight aside, this is easily the entry on the chart that sounds most like an actual song. Despite the composition duties falling once again to Japanese whizz kid NAOKI, the vocal pattern and lyricism remind me hugely of the golden era of Eurodance in the early nineties. Because of this, this track is most certainly the easiest to listen to outwith the context of the gameplay itself. I strongly urge you make it a feature on your iPod in the near future!

Have you ever been a player of Dance Dance Revolution or Dancing Stage? If so, please comment with your most keenly remembered selections!

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