It's time to polish up your dancin' shoes, start your warm-ups and get ready to bust a move or two: Harmonix has officially announced that PSY's worldwide smash hit Gangnam Style will indeed be a playable song in Dance Central 3 - and we caught up with Matt Boch, the game's lead designer to chat about the inclusion of one of the biggest songs of 2012.
It's a blast of a song, and it's great to see a Korean artist actually climbing the Billboard US charts. It's just unheard of to have that sort of thing happening!
It's totally crazy, but really great to see.
Laughing, Matt explains that he received countless requests (and demands!) for the song's inclusion via Twitter, but that Harmonix was always one step ahead. The internet has "changed the way that pop music works," says Matt - with viral videos popping up and showing off new dance moves faster than ever before. It goes without saying then that getting Gangnam Style in the game was a natural fit, following on from tracks like Teach Me How to Dougie, Teach Me How to Jerk and Crank That (Soulja Boy).
There's just something great about these dance moves that really fit with a particular song or a particular style, and we see that as one of the big strengths of bringing all of this famous choreography to Dance Central.
PSY isn't the only Korean act on the Dance Central 3 lineup, either (Matt says that if he had his way, an energetic, 100% K-pop dancing game would be in his Xbox right now). Harmonix has always prided itself on an international tracklist for its games, and this year's release already included fellow YG Entertainment act 2NE1 with their ode to modesty I Am The Best.
With DC, we always try and go for a broader, international soundtrack, and DC3 is no exception. K-pop has been really gaming culturally relevant. I mean, Gangnam Style is a huge obvious example of that, but 2NE1 has held multiple solo concerts in the states, and this stuff has been gaining popularity!
We want to represent as best we can what we think the art of dance music is, and K-pop is certainly right up there.
(In one of life's strange twists, Matt actually missed out on seeing girl group 2NE1 play on the U.S. east coast recently - he was too busy finishing work on Dance Central 3.)
...but it's not all K-Pop and "peculiar" dance moves. Dance Central 3 also brings something rather unusual to the dance game genre: A detailed, incredible, storyline featuring a magical boom box (no, really).
The reasoning is simple. Rather than just making up new dances to an assortment of songs, Harmonix wanted to create a game that featured a whole bunch of famous pieces of choreography from the past few decades. Matt mentions the Electric Slide, the Hustle, and the YMCA in the same breath as Teach Me How to Dougie.
Dance Central 2 featured a lightweight story, and the team were looking forward to bumping that up a notch or two for the new instalment. With the introduction of the Time Travel Conduit Boom Box, the studio certainly did that.
The notion is, you are going back in time and learning some of these dance crazes. This allows us to present them in a pretty authentic context... as authentic as it might get for a video game!
Of course, you need a way to actually get back in time to learn the moves, and that's where the magical mystical boom box comes in. You'll also need someone to teach you how to
dougie work the thing: Enter the brand new crew, Dance Central Intelligence - DCI for short - they'll be your mentors throughout the whole thing.
They introduce themselves to you after you prove that you're a good enough dancer to be a member of DCI, and then you will go go back in time to the 70s, 80s, 90s, and you learn these famous dance crazes. Collect the moves that are part of them, decode them, and bring them back so that DCI can use those dance crazes to protect the sanctity of dance central against the evil villain of our franchise, doctor tan, who is a bit of a dance fascist.
Matt urges: You are the only hope for Dance Central!
...but there's a twist. The Time Travel Conduit Boom Box is the same one you've been carrying around with you through Break It Down mode in both the original Dance Central as well as in Dance Central 2. It's been talking you through the whole thing - and in Dance Central 3, things start to fall into place as you meet the man behind the voice: Rasa, the male member of the DCI crew. Has he been training you all along for this particular mission?
We had some really silly meetings, basically to try and work out this plot, and finally settled on something that we think is a really great opportunity to showcase the characters, and how rich a persona we've created for each one of the characters.
It was a blast working with our writing team, and all of the various designers and character artists, everyone who has a hand in this stuff to put together this amazing new storyline, and we think that longtime fans of the franchise will be just blown away by what we've done.
Dance Central 3 is out right now, exclusively for Xbox 360 (making great use of the Kinect sensor), so if you'd like to warm up a bit with The Hustle, Daft Punk's Around The World, LMFAO's Sexy and I Know It or perhaps the Macarena, now's your chance.
Harmonix has not yet announced an official date for Gangnam Style's debut on Dance Central 3, but has confirmed that the track will be joined by Carly Rae Jepsen's Call Me Maybe in one of the catchiest assortments of DLC we've ever seen.
I like video games and music and cups of tea and noodles and beagles and colour-cycling LEDs.
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Jimmy the Geek