THE ARCHIVE 2011-2015

Arcade Games That Time Forgot: Dancing Eyes

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Arcade Games That Time Forgot is a feature about weird, brilliant, kooky, terrible, or just interesting arcade games. Why just arcade games? Because while arcades gave us plenty of amazing games that are now classic franchises, it wasn't unlike the PC market, where any ol' group of people could make and distribute them, and with that sort of freedom, crazy ideas had a better chance of making it through. And for better or worse, quite a few did.

Dancing Eyes (Namco, 1996)

Gratuitous titillation seems to be the M.O. of the Japanese game industry these days, at least if you go by the stereotypes. But there's a touch of truth to it, as the number of ways you can ogle cartoon girls in games is larger than ever. But when it came to out-and-out pandering, Namco was ahead of the pack. In 1996, using their expertise in 3D polygonal graphics, they produced the arcade action game Dancing Eyes (no relation to the Gary Stewart song... probably).

Namco recently announced a remake of Dancing Eyes, which is, so far, a Japan-only game for the PS3. But there's perhaps no better time for it to appear, given what I said at the start. In it, you control a cute little monkey, running along a grid that's laid over some surface that needs to be broken away, be it a schoolgirl's uniform, a magician's box, or a tree stump with mischievous twins inside.

Most of the time, though, it's going to be women whom you must disrobe by clearing the panels on the grid. You do this by holding the action button to set down a peg, then run along the grid trying to complete a whole shape while avoiding the enemies honing in on you. You don't have to connect the ends -- as long as you complete a whole shape, you can watch it get cleared away. Your "reward" for beating the stage is to (typically) watch the model prance around in her skivvies or otherwise play around with the "set" she's on.

On the surface, Dancing Eyes is not original -- plenty of other girlie arcade games, like the Gals Panic series, employed a variation of Qix's gameplay to get the player to slowly reveal a picture of a scantily-clad woman. But Dancing Eyes was the only such game to use real-time polygons, and Namco used that to their advantage by letting you walk all around the model as you cleared the grid. And in some cases, you can see the girls "breathing" as they patiently stand there waiting for their clothes to be destroyed. Yeah, well... that's worth a multi-page psychology paper right there, but nonetheless, it was one of the game's unique selling points. In the context of 1996, the game also looks amazing. It makes you wonder what kind of HD embarrassment the remake will bring!

Despite the groan-worthy sexism going on, Dancing Eyes doesn't really take itself seriously. As soon as the third stage, the game starts taking an absurd turn as it introduces cows and aliens. It shows that if you take out the suggestive material, you can still have a fairly fun game on your hands. Of course, it wouldn't have nearly the same appeal, would it? And it wouldn't be getting so much attention, both back then and now with the announcement of the remake. And as a matter of fact, there's plenty of eye candy for everybody...

See? It's inclusive, and totally realistic, to boot!