Well, nearly every video game has a final challenge, or a final stage, and in Bust-A-Groove’s case, I count that as it’s boss music.
The first of these was Beatmania, which utilized a vertical scrolling, timing based button input mechanic to simulate a DJ-ing experience.
In 1998, Konami followed up the success of Beatmania with the creation of the iconic, and wildly popular, Dance Dance Revolution.
From this period on, Konami began cranking out dozens of expansions on their dance and rhythm gameplay concept which, effectively giving birth to a new genre, as well as making way for a host of imitators.
Bust-A-Groove is one these imitators.
Developed by the wildly prolific Enix Co. and published by the now defunct 989 Studios, Bust-A-Groove (Bust-A-Move outside of the U.S.) was an interesting experiment in dance/rhythm game mechanics that was released on the Sony Playstation.
Not so much a pure imitator of Konami’s rhythm game formula, as it was an innovation of it, Bust-A-Groove combined the timed button input format of Beatmania, with the head-to-head style gameplay of a two-player puzzle or fighting game.
As if to point out to the player the similarities between Bust-A-Groove and fighting games, the developers were kind enough to include an attack command that each player could utilize to offset the rhythm and momentum of their opponent.
Every character in Bust-A-Groove was colorful and unique, each with a dance style and musical theme to call their own.
Standouts among the cast, both in terms of music and character, were Heat, a breakdancer,
Hiro, the leisure suit wearing disco dancer from the cover,
and Capoeira, a duo of aliens that utilize a dance style that more closely resembles the Brazilian martial art than it does any traditional dance style.
It’s worth noting that a fair amount of censorship was involved in the U.S. release of Bust-A-Groove.
Differences include Hiro no longer perpetually smoking his cigar, (as his song ironically declares to be the norm for him) and the hip-hop dancer, Strike, having his bottle of hard liquor being replaced with a cola can.
In addition to this, many of the songs in the game were translated and re-recorded from the original Japanese.
It’s funny, normally I’m a purist when it comes to “dubbing” or serious localization of media, but in Bust-A-Groove’s case, I honestly feel that the English revisions of some of the songs are in fact superior.
In example, I found Shorty’s English song to be infinitely better than the oh-so-pedo-it-can’t-be-legal-Japanese version.
Give ’em a listen:
Seriously, it sounds like the singer was 10, maybe 11 years old, and worse yet, had no aspirations to be a singer whatsoever.
That ugliness aside, let’s get to the “boss music” of Bust-A-Groove.
Bust-A-Groove’s final stage, it’s final boss, is a giant dancing robot named Robo-Z.
Robo-Z’s stage consists of a downtown cityscape, wherein your player character stands atop a skyscraper, while Robo-Z does some sort of trance/vogue dance while standing in a busy intersection.
It’s pretty epic actually, the idea of someone dance battling a 50 foot robot in the middle of the city while cars careen down the road and slam into the robot’s feet.
As icing on this already surreal-as-fuck situation, Robo-Z’s theme song is an over-the-top, fast paced trance-techno song called “Flyin’ to Your Soul.”
Pretty cool, huh?
When my brother got this game for Christmas in 1998, I really sucked at it.
I’ve always had a good ear for music, but for some reason my fingers just couldn’t keep up with inputting the button commands on the fourth beat.
Nowadays I can play the game with my eyes shut, but back in the day, I usually couldn’t get past Kelly’s stage.
Kelly’s stage is usually stage 2.
I remember watching my brother beat the game again and again though, and every time, I’d make sure to be in the room for when he played Robo-Z’s stage.
Like I did with Sakura’s song, “I Want You to Know,” I used to listen to “Flyin’ to Your Soul” as much I possibly could from the sound test screen.
“Flyin’ to Your Soul” may not be the most intense, or archetypal boss theme around, but it’s catchy, and it’s just about as epic as music in a dance game can get, and for that reason, it’s ONE OF THE BEST BOSS TRACKS EVER.