Breakdancing was huge in the eighties. Everyone who grew up in that era couldn’t get away from kids windmilling into each other or moonwalking across your driveway. Do-it-yourself books and training videos were making mints on teaching suave moves to anyone who wanted to spin and twist as if they were starring on Beat Street.
So a little company called Beck-Tech went out and made a game for the Commodore 64, channeling the power of sneakers and headbands into players’ hands. Epyx published the game in 1984.
This was a 2D game that took place in a single-screen with AI controlled dancers battling for domination of the streets against one or two players.
There were five major games that you could jump into, each tracking your progress from a no-name dancer to someone starring at the City Breakdance Festival. You didn’t have to follow the games in order, but the manual actually wrote up a bit of fiction that tied them all together if you did.
The first game, “Hot Feet Dance Contest”, pits you against a b-boy named “Hot Feet” whose moves you’ll need to copy as if you were playing Simon Says. Matching each move earns you points and he’ll keep adding moves to his routine until you botch things four times.
Next is “Battle the Rocket Crew” that assumes your rep has spread after burning Hot Feet. Now the game throws several breakdancers at you at a time and you’ll need to match their moves to eliminate each one. If you fail, they’ll push you of the pier taking away one of your four “lives”. The goal here is to match and beat all of the dancers before that happens.
The third game is the “Perfections Dance Puzzle” pitting you against the king, Boogaloo Brewster. This guy will throw multi-move routines at you while a flagpole keeps track of how much time you have left to match him at his own game. Boom boxes pop up in the windows of the building in the scene every time you succeed with your moves, scoring points. There’s no ending to this particular game, like with Hot Feet — you try to score until you run out of lives.
The fourth game is “Choreograph Your Own Dance” which puts your character on stage leaving it to you to pick the music and the moves for a thrilling compilation of fresh perfections that you can even save to disk.
The last option is the “Grand Loop” which takes you through all of the game modes.
The box was lit up with neon lines and the manual even went so far as to double as a dance instruction manual with step-by-step descriptions on how to do the Backspin, Moonwalk, or the Gyro. If you were tired of playing the game, you could always try the real thing. It even had a glossary of breakdancing terms such as “boogaloo”, “juice”, and “up rocking”. Try working those into regular conversation and see the reactions of your friends and family.
Though the game is relatively unknown today, it’s notable for being an early precursor to the rhythm game genre that includes everything from the Playstation’s PaRappa the Rapper to Ubisoft’s Just Dance franchise. One can only think of what would be out right now for the Kinect if breakdancing made a retro comeback of some kind.