The Top 7… Epic dance battles

2. Flying to Your Soul

The dancers: Robo-Z and whoever you happen to be playing as

Bust-A-Groove was a bizarre little series, and we miss it dearly. Aside from being a completely unique dance-fighting franchise, it featured some bizarre moments even by the standards of rhythm games – and few were quite as awesomely strange as the final battle of the first game. It might not have been a dance-off with God, but as far as we’re concerned, it’s the next best thing: a chance to show up a giant robot. A giant robot that vogues.

A huge part of what makes the “fight” against Robo-Z so noteworthy is its gigantic sense of scale. While all the other dance-fights in Bust-A-Groove feature competitors that are more or less the same size (tiny dancing mouse Columbo notwithstanding), its final battle features one skyscraper-sized opponent (Robo-Z, of course), and a barely visible one who dances on the roof of a nearby building (you). Amazingly, it’s still possible to not only claim the advantage by swinging the camera in your direction, but to stun the giant alien mech with your puny cheater’s attacks.

Beating Robo-Z also meant you could play as it, but sadly, the controllable version was shrunk down to human size, and any battles you fought with it lacked the distinctively apocalyptic, all-or-nothing vibe of Bust-A-Groove’s finale. And if “vogueing robot apocalypse” isn’t a phenomenally kickass setup for a dance-off, we don’t know what is.

1. Purge TV Show

The dancers: Ulala, Pine, Pudding, Jaguar, the Morolian Boss, Space Michael, 86,429 kidnap victims and Purge

Space Channel 5 and its sequel were filled with memorably weird dance battles against aliens, giant robots and killer plants, but none of them were anywhere near as epic, or as visually arresting, as the final fight from Space Channel 5 Part 2. Fought against Purge, a villainous outer-space club kid who wanted to force the galaxy to dance, the battle brought together space-reporter/heroine Ulala, a policewoman, a space pirate, a rival reporter and what we’re assuming is a horrifying future clone of Michael Jackson in a last-ditch effort to save the galaxy.

And, shockingly, they failed.

Of course, it didn’t end there. Ulala was seemingly killed by a laser blast, and for a few seconds there, the outlook was bleak. But then, in a scene that can only be described as “brazenly lifted from Peter Pan,” Ulala’s friends clapped her back to life. What followed was the biggest fight against a transmogrified space-villain that the series has ever attempted – yes, even bigger than the “crowd against the TV monster” fight at the end of the first game.

With Purge transformed into some kind of giant lightning-creature after shifting the venue to Dance Dimension X, Ulala and her backup dancers outperformed him long enough to free the singing Space President, Peace. Once free, Peace’s unfathomably cheesy lyrics about the power of love somehow made short work of pure-energy Purge and his robot minions, eventually giving Purge’s kidnapped studio audience the power to shut down his Ballistic Groove Gun and save the galaxy.

If you’d struggled through SC5P2’s hard-as-nails dance fights, hearing the series’ familiar theme) creeping into the music near the end of it all was pretty damned uplifting. It also gave the visually hypnotic, endlessly bizarre game a surprisingly stirring finale, goofy singing be damned. Also, as dance battles go, it easily takes the prize for most epic, if only by dint of its sheer size; as cool as they might be, none of the other entries on this list feature as gigantic a crowd of backup dancers, much less one that can sing in unison to idiotic lyrics when confronted by a giant monster made of electricity.

Jul 25, 2011

Forgotten greats that once put Sega on top – and could possibly do it again

The Top 7… Games that kicked America’s ass
They invade our space and we fall back. This far, no further! The line must be drawn here!

If we must have loading screens, make them all as great as these, please

Mikel Reparaz
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.