videogames

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Thunderclap

Furaikigunhissy white cat

Rhonda

dub_droid-rhonda1bowie cat

Jellax

Jellaxfrom http://fluffyghost.com/
Avocado

Avogadora_in_her_human_formblue kitty

Prince Demand (yes, it’s actually Prince Diamond, but I’m going with the videogame variant, which is a badly dubbed French version of a Japanese-only release translated by fans into English for play on SNES emulators. There’s a lot of weirdness with language here. Rhonda’s actual name is Dumble, and while I can’t even think of how they got there, it doesn’t matter because Dumble is ALSO a great name for a cat.)

Prince Diamondkitty bling

Planet Nemesis (ok, that’s actually a level, not a villain, but it IS an excellent cat name. You could call him Nemmy for short!)

planet nemesisthey stalk by night

Crystal Tokyo (also a level name, and nearly a David Bowie instrumental song name.)

bowiecat

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I am not a dancer. Not formally, not casually. I have never felt compelled to move to any particular rhythm, don’t want to try, and experience mild terror just walking near a dance floor to get a drink for fear some well-meaning person will drag me in. I should say, try to drag me in, as standard reaction to past attempts has been to twist my arm Judo style and bolt to the nearest exit.

Dancing made me feel awkward and gangly and extremely stupid, like I had no idea how to operate the various limbs attached to me outside of walking and occasionally running. It followed that I saw no point in dancing, as from a nonparticipant’s standpoint it resembled ritualized exercise in the service of mating ritual at best and more active standing around the rest of the time. I went to exactly one dance in elementary school and was shockingly disappointed to realize the only things to do there were a) stand around and b) dance. I assumed they’d have carnival games in the hallway or activities, you know, something to actually DO while you were there. For some reason this lesson didn’t stick as I assumed the EXACT SAME THING when going to prom. And again I was shocked to find no mini-haunted house, no apple-bobbing, just a big ol’ dance with fancier dresses.

The rest of my family, however, had no problem with this strange coordinating of limbs and in fact quite enjoyed it. My mom was a disco diva through and through, with her only prom disappointment being three ‘Stairway to Heaven’ themes in a row, thanks to the stoners running prom committee. My sisters took several years of dance classes- jazz, modern, no ballet though; those kids looked like fierce automotons. I have hazy memories of attending a recital, mostly because my parents bought a video camera to tape the occasion and I was fascinated by the device. The girls grew into champions of the dance floor, absorbing new moves with ease. One sister in all seriousness wanted to be a Fly Girl when she grew up and I thought this a perfectly appropriate and possible job opportunity for her.

To this day they’re still ace, with the other sister working towards her dream of one day becoming Dance Hall Queen of Jamaica (good luck beating that crazy Japanese girl who won in 2010).

I, on the other hand, still flounder. While having vastly improved my Robot skills, the flailing of limbs to rhythmic beats still leaves me slightly panicky and extraordinarily self-conscious. Therefore I was shocked to discover how much I enjoy ‘Just Dance’, a Wii game, over this winter break. My mom, still loving dancing, had purchased the game as an extension of her ‘Zumba’ classes. To this day I am still unsure what Zumba is/means but was nearly driven insane listening to her class remix:

(Skip straight to 1:19 for the majority of what I was hearing. Please imagine your mother driving around shouting these lyrics at the top of her lungs while fistpumping violently).

The game is simple as its title: move along with the dancers on screen while holding a wiimote, and try not to punch your fellow gameplayers out while doing so. Through the same magic that convinced thousands playing Rock Band they were musicians, for the first time in my life I thought, huh! I can dance! And thanks to Mom’s overexuberant buying sprees, I had at my disposal Just Dance, Just Dance 2, Just Dance 3, and Just Dance: Michael Jackson Edition.

As someone with exposure to every iteration of this game in a short span, I noticed an evolution – the first ‘Just Dance’ is merely a ‘Now That’s What I call Music’ compilation brought to choreographized, rotoscoped life, aimed squarely at those who enjoy and enjoy consuming disposable pop culture, ie tween/teen girls and teen girls at heart. ‘Just Dance 2′ takes into consideration the other members of the family with songs by The Jackson 5 and The Rolling Stones for mom and dad, some Beastie Boys and Wham! for older siblings and relatives, Harry Belafonte and Quincy Jones for Nana, and…Boney M, for the historian with an appreciation for rhythm.

‘Just Dance 3′, the one I purchased, is insidious in how it considers those who would normally just sit and watch and LURES THEM IN. What be this madness where a Madness song, not even a radio hit, makes it on?! And there’s an interpretive dance thing to ‘This is Halloween’, yes, from ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’- WHAT?! Even Brahms is represented (well, as ‘played’ by the ‘Just Dance Classical Orchestra’). Well, now I’m hooked. I still don’t want to get on the dance floor, but should I have to I’m less inclined to run as I’ve become acclimated to this strange jiggling of body parts called ‘dancing’ through this silly game. Below is a breakdown of the standout hits (for me) of the game:

Madness – Night Boat To Cairo: The theme’s a little on-the-nose with mummies and a camel. Bonus points for including actual Madness dance moves including the Group Stop & Swoop and Everyone Step Together.


(For your dancing consideration.)

Donna Summer – I Feel Love: This one’s extra sneaky. You think you’re getting a straight disco song only to find they’ve crossed Klaus Nomi with Kate Bush for choreography! Plus a very Björk hairdo! Sooo fun.

Chemical Brothers – Hey Boy, Hey Girl:
This is the closest I ever hope to come to a rave. Still, points for letting me dance inside the head of the glowstick set while being an extra in ‘Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See’.

A-Ha! – Take On Me: So…so much twirling.

The Sugarhill Gang – Apache (Jump On It): Thanks to a generation’s exposure to this song through ‘Fresh Prince’, they took the delightful lazy route and went with similar choreography. Best done in groups and surreptitiously filmed.

African Ladies – Pata Pata: Whee! You and a pal get to coordinate easy moves and learn the basics of body rolling!

Scissor Sisters – I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’: for when you DO feel like being sassy.

KISS – I Was Made For Lovin’ You: This song is proof positive KISS sucked at being a rock band (but excelled in self-promotion). The choreography acknowledges this and takes it to another level with line-skipping and coordinated fist-pumpery.

Robin Sparkles – Let’s Go To The Mall: A friend had to explain to me this isn’t a ‘real’ song, but a character from the TV show ‘How I Met Your Mother’s Canadian 80′s pop hit. The strangeness of a fictional character’s actual song appearing in a dance game outside its fictional reality aside, the song is indeed infectious and Canadian. Man, I hope other countries make fun of us with as few tropes as we use to mock Canadians. ‘Eh’, ‘aboot’, hockey, politeness, maybe a mullet. That’s it, that completely covers mocking Canada for the United States.

I recently learned of the existence of ‘Just Dance: ABBA’ and will be purchasing it as soon as a used copy turns up at the Bushwick Game Stop (this may be a while).

Alternate titles: Confessions of a Wii Addict, Apache: Jump On It, Dance Dance (Secret) Revolution, Indoor Jazz Hands, Strange Love or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Just Dance

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lasertyler

Quite some time ago my original YouTube account was deleted due to ‘violation of terms’. I’d had the temerity to dare upload a music video I’d not found anywhere else online and happened to have on VHS. The video was so purely ridiculous, such a strange inversion of normal video traits, it had to be shared with the world. The price: my account, despite writing and arguing that as the video was created for promotional purposes there surely could be no harm in passing it along to the very audience intended to view it.

Shoddy reasoning, true, but in a world where Viacom sues YouTube for/continues secretly uploading its own videos, are my actions so bad? So many user-pools online feel more and more like one-way streets: places like Flickr and Etsy routinely get raided for ‘ideas’ by larger designers, memes are dropped into commercials and shows, but less than ever enters the public domain as copyright is extended again and again far beyond the life of its creator. You still have to pay to sing HAPPY BIRTHDAY in movies! The ultimate payback is inherent in the stranglehold- that which can’t really become part of an audience’s life is forgotten and neglected, eventually disappearing. It’s items that gain new life through appreciation, exposure, and reinterpretation that continue on (for better and worse- how many versions of Alice In Wonderland have there been now?)

I don’t think ‘irony’ fits, but sure enough I found the video on YouTube. You may remember Bonnie Tyler as the singer of ‘Total Eclipse of The Heart’, or possibly ‘the chick who sings with Meatloaf a lot’. Indeed, Meatloaf’s influence looms large over this video for Bonnie’s lesser hit, ‘Faster Than The Speed of Night’, beginning with the bad pun title and moving on to cadence, tune, and the decision to backlight everything/one in the video. Don’t be scared by the laser eyes, they’re just for show.

The plot, far as I can surmise, is that Bonnie and her Boy Toy have resorted to making out in the local open-air video arcade. Their powers of love transport Boy Toy into the video games, where he must breakdance-fight them all…in his underwear. I get the impression they dropped by Juilliard one morning and rounded up whoever was hanging out by the dance studio, then worked a concept around that. For the curious the games are Guitar Warriors, Bikers of the Round Table, Space Punks, and Heathen, all of which coincidentally are bands playing the big Battle of the Bands showdown in my script about scrappy friends makin’ it in the L.A. scene circa 1986. Special appearance by The Problems:

It’s rather refreshing to see exactly how ridiculous a direct inversion of the usual music video tropes is- just replace the random scantily clad dancing girl with a guy and voila, camp city. Though, in truth few video ladies take half as many opportunities to randomly swing a guitar over their heads while going through various ballet positions as Boy Toy does.

guitar swingsmall

 

dancymanshorter

 

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While scouring Boingboing.net I came across this link to the bizarre, as yet unreleased videogame Pirate Baby’s Cabana Battle Street Fight 2006. The titular Pirate Baby kidnaps your lady friend and you and your buddy have to battle your way through levels of zombie mayhem using karate and a baseball bat. Also occasionally your chubby friend, large, zombie chomping puppies, a 4 x 4 vehicle to mow them all down, and, when confronted with girlie otaku, a pointy-toothed cat that cuts them down with a chainsaw. HOLY CARP, they even have Walter from ‘The Big Lebowski’ coming in and screaming ‘YOU’RE ENTERING A WORLD OF PAIN’! Outstanding.

But wait, I haven’t even gotten to the zombies. They’re the usual mix of shambling dead, BUT THERE’S BABIES! Baby zombies you actually see bursting out of their naked, undead moms’ stomachs. This game must come to be.


cross-posted lovingly to zombie_survival

If you want to see the above animated, just head on over to its creator(Paul Robertson’s) livejournal.
The music’s pretty sweet(proggy is good), and I’m always a fan of tag-team video games. Does anyone remember ‘Beavis & Butthead’? They had a few levels where you’d have to work together, like in the hospital: one controlled the bed and the other hosing down enemies. If you won you got to see GWAR. My only complaint is that once again, the girl gets kidnapped and the dudes get to kick ass and take names. Boooring. Didn’t we learn anything from the Princess Peach game? She uses PMS as a weapon. Girl power indeed.

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