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Video Game / Bust a Groove

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Yo Ho! Bust a stone cold groove!
DJ Mix Deadly
My, what big feet they have.
Bust a Groove (known as Bust a Move in Japan) is a series of rhythm games released by Enix (now Square Enix). The first two games were released for the PlayStation and the third on the PlayStation 2. The games feature character designs by Hideyuki Tanaka, director and character designer for the anime Super Milk Chan.

The first game focuses on ten dancers and the mysterious "dance energy" known as Groovetron. The goal of the game is to dance battle your way to the final boss and become no. 1 dancer. The characters in this game are Frida, Heat, Gas-O, Hamm, Hiro, Kelly, Kitty-N, Pinky Diamond, Shorty, and Strike. Included also are four hidden characters: Burger Dog, Capoeira, Columbo (No, not that one.), and the final boss, Robo-Z.

The second game pretty much removes what little story the previous game had and focuses more on the character's lives in a series of This is Your Life-esque endings. Sadly, they were cut out of the North American release. In this game, Frida, Gas-O, Hamm, and Pinky are gone and replaced with Comet, Bi-O, and Tsutomu. There are also new playable characters: ChiChi and Sally, Hustle Kong, McLoad, Michael Doi, Sushi Boy, and Pander. Columbo also makes a return with Burger Dog as a cameo.


The third game in the series is Dance Summit 2001. This time, none of the dancers from the previous two installments make an appearance (save for Strike and Burger Dog, who make cameo appearances on Jumbo Max's stage). It features a whole new cast and focuses more on team dancing. Also unlike the first two, it has no endings. And it was only released in Japan, meaning it's the more obscure of the three. In this game, there are a total of eight teams of four: The School Mates, The Data Bebops, CusuCusu, The Flower Dancing Team, Galaxy 4, Discos Estrus, Jumbo Max, and The Far East Commanders.

All three games also feature DJs that serve as announcers. DJ Kickn' in the first. DJ Dangerous and DJ Mix Deadly in the second. And in the third, DJ Donna Burke. Yes, that Donna Burke.

The first two games were a moderate success, with the third being something of a Scrappy to the series, due to the new characters, gameplay, and recycled dance moves. Though it has its own cult following, as well.


Whether Square Enix plans on making a new game in the series is unknown (and probably unlikely).

The series has examples of the following tropes:

  • Acrofatic: Hamm and Meat, whose movesets involves a lot of spinning and twisting you wouldn't expect guys their size to pull off. Justified in that Hamm is a professional dancer who's gotten fat from his hamburger obsession and Meat is trying to follow in his footsteps.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • Robo-Z was blue in the first game, then gold in the second.
    • For some reason, Frida's alternate outfit was altered outside of Japan to keep her hair blue instead of it being changed to black.
    • Outside of Japan, Hamm's design was altered to remove the Ganguro inspired Gag Lips and lighten his skin tone so as to avoid any Unfortunate Implications.
  • Ambiguously Brown: It's pretty obvious which characters are supposed to be black, but with Heat, Strike, Frida, Banbi, Honda, and Hamamatsu, it's pretty hard to tell.
  • Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: Pander's stage in Bust a Groove 2 and Iga Base in Dance Summit.
  • Amusement Park: Both of Shorty's stages: The park entrance in 1 and a water ride in 2.
  • Animation Bump: The motion capture moves were always impressive, but whether fans love it or hate it, they all seem to agree that Dance Summit 2001 has some of the best motion capture graphics the series has ever seen. Of course, it helps that it's on the PS2.
  • Artificial Stupidity: All three games have their moments. Particularly in Bust a Groove 2 and Dance Summit 2001. The AI messes up quite a bit, though it has no problem reflecting your attacks..
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The bossfights against Robo-Z at the end of the game have him at his true Kaiju size. Averted for the other characters in the other modes, where his stage isn't accessible outside of his personal Practice and Dance View modes in the first game, and the second player is required to select Robo-Z in order to play on his stage in versus mode.
  • Awesomeness Meter: The Groove Bars in Bust a Groove 2. Line 'em up, and something freaky/cool happens in the stage you're dancing in.
  • Axe-Crazy: Gas-O. Literally. He attacked his father Bi-O with an axe, lodging it into his skull.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Frida, Pinky, Hamm, Strike in the first game, Kelly in the second game, Candy, Betty, Olive, Kei, Me, Miranda, and Imawa.
  • Berserk Button: Gas-O's berserk button is being asked to take off his gas mask.
  • Big Applesauce: Kelly's stage in Bust a Groove 2.
  • Big Eater: Hamm. He used to be a svelte dancer, but his insatiable appetite for fast food drove him into obesity.
  • Big Boo's Haunt: Bi-O's stage, appropriate for the zombie who dances like Michael Jackson.
  • Big Fancy Castle: Tsutomu's stage, complete with big fancy dragon.
  • Bilingual Dialogue: Doesn't matter which region you're playing. Heat (at least in the first game) and Shorty still speak in Japanese.
    • Frida's song is also still in Japanese for...some reason.
  • Bladder of Steel: The game lets you pause, but you can't continue where you left off. The only options on the pause menu is 'Retry' or 'Quit'. God forbid you get a phone call or have to answer the doorbell in the middle of a song..
  • Butt-Monkey: Dancing Heroes' host, James Suneoka. And Tsutomu.
  • Camera Screw: Turned into a gameplay mechanic. In the first two games, as the song progresses, the camera will begin focusing on whoever is ahead score-wise, zooming in closer and closer as the gap grows wider until the winning player hogs ALL of the screen, with the losing opponent, at best, being barely visible in the background. It's not uncommon for the camera to end up wildly flipping back and forth between the players in a heated battle where both players are able to only momentarily top each other. Dance Summit uses a simplified version of this for its team-up system. Depending on the pairings, the camera will either focus on everyone in a quartet, focus on two people in a duo, shift focus between two pairs for a tag combo, focus on one person in a solo, or just remain static and unfocused on anyone if everybody picks something different. The characters out of focus are additionally placed in out-of-the-way locations so that they're as far from the action as possible, such as hiding characters behind the bleachers at Queen's Highschool or moving the action to the rafters of Hanazono for a solo while the rest of the team is stuck down on the dance floor..
  • Canis Major: Frida attacks by painting one and launching it at foes.(Or at least, the head of one.) It literally becomes this when launched against Robo-Z.
  • Chrome Champion: Robo-Z Gold's alternate outfit in the second game reverses the coloration of his limbs and joints, making him appear silver with gold joints. Capoeria also get in on this with the second game giving their bodies a reflective chrome(Or bronze in their alt) finish.
  • Collision Damage: Robo-Z's first stage, Kelly's stage in Bust a Groove 2, and Jumbo Max's stage in Dance Summit 2001.
  • Combo Breaker: Inverted. You can inflict this on opponents to mess up their combo. For example, Hiro throws a picture of himself, Frida paints a wolf, Strike fires a machine gun, Heat launches a fireball and Shorty tosses a large cake.
  • Cool Shades: Pinky, Strike, Candy, Betty, Olive, Honda, 3D, Orion, and Apollo.
  • Cosplay Otaku Girl: Kelly and Kitty-N. Cosplaying is a treasured hobby for the former's story, as it gives her the confidence step onto the dancefloor: babies in the first game and policewomen in the second.
  • Degraded Boss: Capoeira go from being an unlockable sub-boss in the first game to part of the starting roster in the second.
  • Disco Dan: Hiro in the first two games.
  • Do Well, But Not Perfect: In the first game, characters are able to create custom combos to some extent by restarting their current combo with a lower tier move or skipping ahead by a certain number of steps at the cost of a weaker finish. At first this seems to be not worth the time, but as it turns out some of the dance sections between solos or the end of the song have an odd number of beats compared to the number of moves in a combo and trying to finish off a combo with a Freeze too close to the start of a solo or ending will instead make your dancer automatically fail the move. However if you extend or cut down your combo tree by a couple moves, you're able to finish combos up just as the song transitions with a nice smooth motion, avoiding penalization. The sequel removes this by forcing a character into doing an Ass Kicking Pose instead if they finish a section either with a Freeze or with perfect timing on the final press.
  • Dub Name Change: The game is known as Bust A Move in Japan - because of another example of this trope, Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move
    • Also, Kitty-N's song, Aozora no Knife, was renamed Bust a Groove in the overseas release.
  • Evil Laugh: Robo-Z has a rather nightmarish one.
  • Expy: Betty and Olive look like modern versions of Betty Boop and Olive Oyl, with Candy being a combination of Kelly and Shorty. (Some fans even theorized that Candy is Kelly.)
    • Banbi herself looks like Frida.
  • Finishing Move: If you clear a match with a high enough score, you'll unlock Fever Time where your character does one final, usually extra complex dance routine by themselves. In the sequel, if the two opponents scores are close enough, a Double Fever Time will occur instead, with the two dancers doing a duet combo that ends with the loosing dancer bowing to the victor.
  • Floating Platform: Galaxy 4's stage, Disco 21.
  • Formerly Fit: Hamm, though he can he backflip and pull his weight around like everyone else...
  • Form-Fitting Wardrobe: Most of the female characters. Plus a few of the guys.
  • Gangbangers: Strike from the first two games. Jumbo Max in the third. His jammer involves taking out his guns and shooting the opponent straight up.
  • Gangster Land: Jumbo Max's stage, 79th Street.
  • Goggles Do Nothing: Heat in Bust a Groove 2.
  • Golden Snitch: In the first game, everyone has the same command branches that grant the same amount of points during normal play with their own distinct commands for solos only. Advanced players will get their opening combo out the way and then go directly for the advanced combos, with the computer not being afraid of doing the same, leading to a lot of cases of Fearful Symmetry where the match remains deadlocked during normal play. The only way to reliably come out on top is to bust out your character's secret, incredibly complex solo combos to turn the tide of the match. Even then, the computer can pull off the same level tricks on higher difficulties. Forcing you to do a secret solo perfectly in at least two solo sections to be sure you'll actually win.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Hussle Kong, whose only article of clothing is a pair of boxing trunks.
  • Harder Than Hard:
    • Mix Mode in Bust a Groove 2 and Dance Summit 2001, which tosses the standard "Directions and a face button on the final beat of a bar" combos out the window in favor of a blend of directions and face buttons through the entire command bar for 2's case and change up the combos to sometimes need two inputs on the same beat in Dance Summit's case..
    • The first game has No Command Mode, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin: No command display at all, meaning you have to memorize every single command for your dancer of choice in order. While the main dancing segments are easier than they appear since everyone shares the exact same command branches, once you get into solos? And the already difficult to pull off secret solos? Good luck handling more than maybe one or two dancers in this mode. Mercifully done away with in Bust A Groove 2 which had unique combos for every dancer and the aforementioned Mix Mode to make up for it but then partially brought back for Dance Summit, where you can have the commands vanish during the input section, meaning you have to memorize them from the Look section. Yes, this CAN be stacked on top of Mix Mode too.
  • Idle Animation: Some characters will stand there puffing through their chests while others slightly lean from side to side. In Dance Summit 2001 before the music starts, the characters move from side to side, or clap their hands. Or march in place.
  • Image Song: Every song in the series. Some of which double as a Boastful Rap or "I Am Great!" Song.
  • Improbable Hairstyle: A few characters. What with who designed them, it's to be expected.
  • Mechanically Unusual Fighter: Robo-Z is the only character in the first game to completely lack any kind of clapping move. He instead does a series of Vouge poses to warm up at the beginning of a combo. A more minor case than usual, since his poses aren't scored any differently than a standard clap.
  • Moveset Clone: Columbo and Burger Dog in the first game, of Shorty and Hamm respectively. The second game has Columbo returning with other characters mimicking Kitty-N, Kelly, Capoeira, Hiro and Comet.
  • Promoted to Playable: Played straight with the above mentioned unlockable characters, and inverted with Strike and Burger Dog, who were "Demoted to Cameo" in Dance Summit 2001.
  • Put on a Bus: Frida, Gas-O, Hamm, and Pinky in the second game. ALL of the characters (except Strike and Burger Dog) in the third.
  • Secret A.I. Moves: The AI can somehow make Pander start out the match as an adorable stuffed animal-like panda, but good luck trying to pull that off yourself!
  • Squashed Flat: Hamm's attack, and by extension Burger Dog's attack as well, in the first game crushes the opponent with a giant hamburger. In the second game, Shorty's can smoosh the opponent with a huge cake, while Columbo does the same thing with pudding/flan. In both games, hitting the opponent twice with these attacks will turn them into Paper People for the rest of the round.