Gamers Get Game

Gamers Get Game
Bustin' a Groove with PaRappa

Joe Blancato | 18 Oct 2005 12:05
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But DDR isn't without other roots. Bust a Groove found its way into the same circle of friends who introduced me to PaRappa. It was a year later, but our interest in the hip hop genre hadn't lost any of its teenage intensity, and we enthusiastically ran to the Blockbuster a mile away to rent a communal copy of the game.

Rather than tapping buttons in syllabic timing, like PaRappa, Bust a Groove was based on the beat of the music. Avatars would assume different dance styles as players would tap a button combination in time with the music. Not strictly fast-paced hip hop, the game introduced my friends and me to house music. The tracks we liked, we'd crank throughout the house as two of us engaged in a dance battle would be shouting out the music's time signature. One, two, three, four, X-Circle-Square, two, three, four. As a dancer's momentum built up, he'd progressively dance better, flashing more elaborate moves. The break dancers would start spinning on their heads. The rave girl would ... do whatever the hell it is rave girls do at raves. My parents would gather around the TV with us when we started getting really fired up, intrigued by this strange game that spurred us to more outbursts than Street Fighter II, yet didn't involve spilling gallons of blood on the floor.

Imagine that. Games based on hip hop culture that don't preach - or even make reference to - violence. When Bust a Groove and PaRappa the Rapper made their steps toward the mainstream, trying to sell the Thanatos of the hip hop culture just wasn't in the equation. Rap and hip hop started as a positive outlet for underprivileged kids in big cities to express their angst, a concept any teenager can get his head around, no matter the subject matter. Sure, hip hop and its culture takes a lot of suburban kids out of their element, but it also gives them another outlet to cope with growing up.

Biggie's death, no matter how tragic for his family, wasn't in vain in the grand karmic scheme. The sad event pushed hip hop and rap into the headlines, opening a whole new world of opportunity for the genre to grow. In this way, he helped bring some joy to a group of friends huddled around a game he never had anything to do with. His influence has inspired an entire generation in a way few icons can. That alone guarantees his eternal life, deep in the minds of anyone connected to his music.

Joe Blancato is a Contributing Editor for The Escapist Magazine, in addition to being the Founder of

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