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CONSOLE: Arcade DEVELOPER: Namco PUBLISHER: Namco
RELEASE DATE (JP): August 27, 1996 GENRE: Space Shooter
// review by EscapeRouteBritish

Male Gaze!

The arcades were home to all sorts of games, and sometimes they'd get a little bit... kinky. Dancing Eyes is one of those games, and the goal is to undress people and objects. You'll be stripping women, men, cows, pineapples. Everything but the kitchen sink. You assume control of a group of little monkeys who wrap around the object on a grid, moving around the object like a bunch of ants around a rotting apple. By holding down a button, you can draw squares on the grid, with each successful drawing revealing more of the object underneath.

It isn't easy to draw around these grid panels, thanks to the many enemies that get in the way. These critters are clever enough to be able to predict where you're going to go, and in the later levels they seem almost psychic, predicting every move I made with stunning precision. There are items you can collect that make your job easier. You can freeze all the enemies in place, or grow in size and crush every enemy you touch, but even considering this you should still be cautious of the enemies and try to visualize where in the play area that they are, or are going to be.

Once you strip an object or a person down, you can watch a special "Show Time" sequence where an animation is played. Depending on how the arcade machine is set up, you can zoom in on the scene to see things in "greater detail." Every stage has its own "Show Time" with exclusive sound effects, and usually involves something suggestive. Women gyrating on beds or prancing around rooms while wearing little clothing, you know, whatever turned people on in the early '90s. Did you expect anything less? …really? Depending on your taste, you may be pleased to learn the game contains no nudity, though it does get fairly close.


Dancing eyes... I feel the magic between you and I...

If you successfully beat fifteen stages, you will have completed Dancing Eyes. For the first thirteen stages, you have a choice of which stage you'll play by selecting from a roulette, so there's some variety. The last two stages are excluded from the roulette, and once beaten, they mark the end of the game. These two stages will be the most taxing of them all, and you will use many continues. It's a short game, you can breeze through it within an hour.

At one point, a HD re-make was in development for the PlayStation 3. Many years after it was due to be released, we can assume it was cancelled. I had my "eyes" on that version for some time, and I was willing to buy pre-paid PlayStation Network cards for the Japanese store so that I could purchase the game from the Japanese store. It looked to be the same game, but on a larger scale, with full high-definition graphics. This included brand new models, textures, modes and music. Namco has done their utmost to make it as though the trailer has disappeared from the Internet, but they can't hide the evidence - this remaster existed at one point, and it was going to be awesome.

Because Dancing Eyes has never seen a console release, the only place to play this game is in a Japanese arcade or on your computer using an arcade machine emulator. Seeing as Namco has effectively given up on this game, I believe that there is no harm in giving this game a play-through on an emulator. If Namco disagrees with me, they should un-cancel the HD version and throw it on the Nintendo Switch, because Nintendo doesn't tell publishers what they can and can't include in a game.

Dancing Eyes is enjoyable yet I find it very hard to explain why. I suppose it is all due to the well-balanced gameplay, the joke stages, and the charming graphics. It isn't a game that will blow you away, but the mechanics are sound and everything works pretty well. I was completely impressed by this silly little game. It has heaps of replay value, you would need to play through the game at least three times to see all of the stages.

For an interesting deep dive into Namco's lesser known arcade history, you can do far worse.


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