The Top 7… Epic dance battles

Not all problems have to be solved with punching


The dancers: Musashi and Topo

In his tireless defense of the food-pun-filled Allucaneet Kingdom, the star of Brave Fencer Musashi was unafraid to murder countless adorable enemies in duel after bloodless duel. However, when confronted with Topo – the mouse-eared member of Leader Force, a commando unit in which each member was convinced he or she was the leader – he found himself unable to hit a girl. Instead, he grudgingly accepted her strange dueling terms: dance, little swordsman, or die.

While it would be easy to dismiss the fight against Topo as just another bout of button-mashy Simon Says with minimal actual dancing, this was one of the first times – if not the first time – that a dance battle intruded into an otherwise “normal” action game. In fact, it’s not a stretch to say that Topo’s ultracute “boss fight” is the most memorable part of this largely forgotten action-RPG, due in no small part to the catchiness of her simplistic little ditty.

Interestingly, the weirdest part of Topo’s dance battle isn’t that it happened – it’s that the “dance or die” bit is meant to be taken literally. Winning the dance-off actually paralyzes Topo’s legs, dashing her secret dreams of pop stardom, and she dies soon afterward. It’s kind of sad, but don’t worry – as cute as she was, Topo was a horrible person. So it’s probably OK that she died, cold and alone, from doing what she loved.


4. Throwdown at Hercules

The dancers: Luis Lopez and some random dude

Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony isn’t all about jacking expensive cars and blowing up yachts with attack choppers. It’s also about managing nightclubs, and part of that management apparently includes stepping onto the dance floor and grinding against chicks in hotpants.

That kind of behavior might go unnoticed at mostly straight nightclub Maisonette 9, but try it at Hercules, the gay club just a few blocks away, and there’s a good chance someone will take issue with it. One of the regulars, possibly incensed at seeing a hetero interloper on the dance floor (or maybe just irked that someone’s stepping to his mad dance skills) might decide to cut in and put Luis’s footwork to the test.

To his credit, the unnamed challenger has some pretty slick moves to show off, even if none of them are quite as aggressive as the wolfman-arms thing Luis busts out to counter him. Also, it’s interesting to note that, while BoGT’s dance battle is just another Simon Says quick time event, it’s one of the few videogame dance-offs that show the protagonist bringing his own moves to the floor, instead of just copying what he’s shown. And it’s a little striking that the GTA dance battle is the only one in which nobody’s risking their lives – just their dignity in the eyes of the crowd.

Above: Just like in real life!

3. Cop Rock

The dancers: Stubbs the Zombie and Chief Masters

The Chief of Police is Stubbs the Zombie’s first real boss, and by the time most players reach him, they’re ready for just about anything. They have, after all, literally chewed their way through a sizable chunk of the population of the retro-futuristic city of Punchbowl by this point. In fact, they’ve just spent the previous level eating the brains of Punchbowl’s heavily armed police force.

So it’s surprising – no, scratch that, jaw-dropping – that when Stubbs finally meets Chief Masters (who up to this point has just been an angry, threatening voice), the cannibal zombie and sawed-off enforcer of justice spontaneously decide to settle their differences on the dance floor.

Simon game

The dance battle that ensues is actually kind of fantastic, and it’s made even more so by the fact that it just comes out of goddamn nowhere. There wasn’t anything like it before, it doesn’t happen again, and it seems completely out of character for a zombie to use dance as a method of conflict resolution. If there was any lingering doubt that Stubbs was anything more or less than a lighthearted (if gruesome) comedy, it was obliterated by watching Masters and Stubbs expertly bust out moves to rock covers of sappy old ‘50s songs.


After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.
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