Earlier today, developer Harmonix revealed a story mode for its upcoming Xbox 360 Kinect exclusive Dance Central 3. Here's how it breaks down, according to the official press release:
Played solo or cooperatively with a friend, players will join the ranks of Dance Central Intelligence (DCI) to uncover a dastardly plot to destroy Dance Central. To put a stop to the villainous machinations of Dr. Tan, players must journey through time to learn iconic dance moves from the 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, and beyond. Can DCI master classic crazes like The Hustle, The Electric Slide, and more in time to prevent the ultimate dance criminal from ending the dance party permanently?
Granted, it's a music game, and Harmonix only has so much it can do to cram a story in there. And who can forget the super-gripping plots of its Guitar Hero and Rock Band titles, which followed increasingly uncanny cover bands as they rose from obscurity to super-stardom?
Our only references for how to properly tell stories about characters who dance all the time are all those dance movies the kids are so into nowadays, which are all either variations on Romeo and Juliet or a battle between plucky dance kids and greedy developers/rival dance crews/a bank, maybe? for the control of their cherished practice space. But they all end in a climactic dance-off because dancing is all these kids know:
Flim-Flam: Aw, shit, Bro, that greedy developer/rival dance crew/bank is gonna take our practice space! This is our home, dawg!
Z-Bro gets up and starts to leave the room.
Flim-Flam: Where are you going? What are we going to do about this?
Z-Bro stops, but does not turn to face his panicked crew.
Z-Bro [without turning around]: We're gonna solve this problem like we solve all our problems, yo…
He looks back over his shoulder.
Z-Bro [cont.]: …we're gonna dance our asses off.
Soundtrack: WUB WUB WUB WUB WUB WUB WUB WUB
I suppose you could tell a story with the dancing itself, but that would be ballet. And if someone ever creates a ballet with remixes of Lady Gaga songs, I will probably just start walking until someone confuses my oar for a winnowing fan. And then I will take shelter in the nearest cave, and local campers will huddle around flickering fires and scare the shit out of each other with their stories of The Weird Old Guy in That Cave Somewhere.
The time-travel element at least mixes up the "save the building" cliché and gives a reason to include a variety of dancing styles and aesthetics. So, I don't know. I guess if Harmonix feels compelled to put a plot in this thing, they could have done worse.
But come on, guys. It used to be about the dancing.