In videogames (as in real life), dance isn’t typically perceived as a means of conflict resolution so much as it is something that sells motion controls and body-sensing cameras. And that’s kind of a shame, because the handful of dance-offs that games have treated us to over the years – expected and otherwise – have provided moments that were a hell of a lot more memorable than those 427,836 times we shot a guy. Done right, a dance battle – and by that we mean an in-game dance battle, not the kind that requires stomping on a pad or actually dancing in front of a camera – can be exciting, visually fascinating and potentially hilarious, even if most of them boil down to mashing buttons on cue. What follows are a few of our favorites.
The dancers: The Simpsons and God
Ordinarily, the very idea of a dance battle with God – which is, incidentally, how The Simpsons Game ends – would skyrocket an entry like this to the top of the list. In practice, though, it’s not quite as impressive as we’d hoped. At the end of The Simpsons Game, the titular First Family of Springfield, fed up with being trapped in a videogame and invaded by aliens, take their case directly to God and ask him to sort things out.
Unfortunately, it turns out God’s a gamer – and an insecure gamer at that. All it takes is a few uneasy looks from the Simpsons to make him turn defensive, and demonstrate his superiority the only way an omnipotent creator of the universe can – with dance.
In a three-stage battle, the Simpsons have to compete in a bizarre version of Dance Dance Revolution, first on God’s Praystation, then on his Xodusbox, and finally his Hii. And while that all sounds like a fantastic idea for an endgame battle, it’s a little disappointing to see that the Simpsons themselves don’t actually dance. Instead, they hop on directional buttons while JHVH and his followers bust a move to The Scorpions’ “Rock You Like A Hurricane.” Still, the concept behind this one is just awesome enough that we’re completely sold on the idea.
The dancers: Sly Cooper, a bunch of chickens and Mz. Ruby
None of the boss fights in Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus (Sly Raccoon in the UK) are exactly straightforward, but when Sly travels to Haiti to confront alligator voodoo priestess Mz. Ruby, things get even more bizarre than usual.
As Sly drifts slowly toward Mz. Ruby on the back of her tortoise Chumley, she dances a few evil spells his way (that just happen to look exactly like PlayStation buttons), which he’s then obliged to dodge. And because this is a videogame, making it through Ruby’s barrage of dance moves makes her disappear, forcing Sly into two more dance-offs, each deadlier than the last.
Sly’s reactions can only be called “dancing” in the most liberal sense, since they’re really more like split-second contortions. Even so, there’s an undeniably catchy rhythm to them, and if nothing else Mz. Ruby’s backup dancers do more than enough to compensate for Sly’s infuriating emphasis on survival over style.