UNiSON: Rebels of Rhythm & Dance - Now Dance, Ducker, Dance

[Thanks to my good friend keroberrycola for the banner image!]

In 2000, Konami’s Bemani division were the leading names in the rhythm game market. They had basically written the book on arcade rhythm games, developing some of the biggest franchises in the genre including Dance Dance Revolution, Beatmania, and Para Para Paradise. While some of these franchises would eventually find their way into the American market, the English rhythm game selection was rather shallow at the time, mostly made up of NanaOn-Sha games like Parappa the Rapper. A number of Bemani games found additional success with home releases on the PlayStation 2, but it wouldn’t be until 2006 that Western fans would get a chance for the same experience. So in 2000, in an effort to dip their toes into rhythm games and grow an audience out west, Tecmo developed their first and only music game, UNiSON: Rebels of Rhythm & Dance for the PlayStation 2.

The game includes a story mode along with its more typical rhythm game setup. The story takes place 200 years into the future, in the High-Tech Celebrity City of Twin Ships. Its ruler, Emperor Ducker, has outlawed dancing, believing it takes away from the pure expression of music. Most of Twin Ships has accepted this change, but one man by the name of Doctor Dance is prepared to start a revolution. He’s gathered a team of young women to start a guerilla dance troupe called UNiSON to fight back against the tyrannical rule of Ducker and bring the art of dancing back to the people of Twin Ships.

While UNiSON shares many similarities with other rhythm games, its gameplay is a lot less reactive and focuses on the player memorizing and repeating routines shown to them. It makes for a shallow experience in comparison to better games in the genre, which isn’t helped by its alarmingly small tracklist. However, there isn’t a lot of coverage for this game online, and the story is a fun romp with lots of personality and some great twists, so I think it’s at least worth showing off and talking about.

I’m ChorpSaway and I’m the kind of person that takes up the DDR machine in the arcade just to play on Standard. I’ll be going solo for this LP, to let both the story and gameplay mostly speak for themselves. Plus that means no knuckleheads getting the way of what I want to talk about.

I will be completing the story mode on the Very Hard difficulty, as well as playing through the bonus songs on the tracklist and providing clean videos of each of the dance routines. Hopefully you’ll be able to take these moves with you into the real world, for the next time you find yourself at a club.


“All right!”
She can be a ditsy girl at times, but she’s full of energy an smiles. She has a great voice that doesn’t quite seem right for her body.

“Ducker isn’t as sweet as we think he is…”
A girl who likes music and nature. She’s smart, and very honest. She has somewhat of a dark history that comes from something that happened in her past with Ducker.

“We’ll bring dancing back!”
A tomboy who likes to move her body. She handles the most difficult dance parts. Supposedly, her father was a famous dancer.

Doctor Dance
“We’re going to change this world!”
The man of mystery who created UNiSON around our three heroines. His hairstyle is the key to……? He’s a great man who teaches dancing to the three girls and masterminds a plan to bring Ducker down… in a manner of speaking.

Chilly’s pet robot. He tries to help UNiSON the best he can.

“Dancing just leads to unhappiness.”
He uses the awesome power of his voice to control the minds of his citizens. He hates dancing. Anyone caught dancing within the city is arrested and banished.

June Baby
“They really bug me…”
A new singer trained under Ducker. She’s a selfish little show-off who’s easily angered. She plans on becoming the top idol of Twin Ships, with the assistance of Ducker.

“Like, we’re gonna catch ‘em.”
Leader of the Ducker Fan. Club. An unfortunate leader in that he is forced to follow the dorky Y’know. He’s also caught between June Baby’s selfishness and his fear of Ducker.

“I’m so hungry, y’know…”
Sub-leader of the Ducker Fan Club. He’s known to always say “I’m hungry”. He scares Like with his careless words to Ducker. He’s proud of his physical prowess.

Man, the art style of this game (in the case of the actual drawings, if not the models) are really good. I remember seeing this in your big grab-bag stream and I was pretty excited to see you finish this off, if only to see the songs that’ll show up and how Doctor Dance explains what they are.

Also you’re doing two LPs with “Y’know!” being repeatedly said a bunch, and this amuses me on one of those weird incidental levels that makes no sense when spelt out.

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Fact: Rhythm game story modes are always the best.

Memorizing the routines is kind of a neat idea for a rhythm game, but I don’t know if it’s one that can really be executed well. Mastering a rhythm game is a process of memorization, but when the game asks you to memorize things it suddenly feels like work.

That being said, Popular Song is my favorite and I’m glad it goes over well 200 years from now.

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“i dug up some dude’s mixtape and i’m gonna use it to change the world!” This game is going to go places, isn’t it?

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I can’t help but feel there’s a missed Who’s On First gag with Like and Y’know’s names being applied to the character who says it, instead of the opposite.

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:siren: UPDATE TIME! :siren:

Today, it’s time for UNiSON to make their public debut! Although Doctor Dance’s studio can only broadcast to a small portion of Twin Ships right now, the hope is that this new routine will sweep the citizens off their feet and get the revolution going. And what better way to get these people going than with a then-modern classic by the indomitable Nelly? It’s time for UNiSON to bust onto the scene, whether Ducker likes it or not!


My only question here is…why the Christmas outfits?

I mean they’re cute, obviously, but why? I have to imagine it relates to what the original J-pop song was?

Your guess is as good as mine. The original song was Neraiuchi by Linda Yamamoto, who I guess was known for wearing costumes that showed her belly button? So yeah as far as the elf outfits go, I have no idea. Given the general attire throughout the game, I’d believe it was something a real idol group wore at some point but it’s hard to search for that sort of thing.

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Oh man, I never knew this game existed. It’s fantastic so far, can’t wait to see more.

This is like Space Channel 5’s weird cousin.

:siren: UPDATE TIME! :siren:

Today, our efforts are already paying us back in spades! Thanks to the generosity of some newfound fans, UNiSON has a brand new studio space to broadcast from, and the range on it is much better than Doctor’s Dance’s home setup. Now it’s time for us to break it in the only way we know how: with one of the most classic R&B hits of all time! Hit it!

Also, since someone was asking about it on The Other Site, I thought I’d share the soundtrack from the Japanese version as well, to show off the song changes and original routines where possible.
Country Grammar was originally Neraiuchi by Linda Yamamoto.
We Are Family was originally First Love by Utada Hikaru.


Oh crap a name I actually recognize, sweet.

This game really is just precious. It’s the lighter and softer Space Channel Five!

These outfits sure are…something. I guess Unison makes more sense as an Idol Group.

:siren: UDPATE TIME! :siren:

Today, it’s time for UNiSON to get personal with their fight against Ducker! Thanks to their friends on the inside, the team has the perfect plan to crash June Baby’s debut concert and put on a show of their own! Not only does this give them a chance for a bigger spotlight, but it also shows just how much the trio has improved since their start. It’s time to make a move with UNiSON!

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I honestly kinda want an anime of this. It would cute and funny, and potentially a bit better paced than the game, since the game kinda goes a bit fast with what’s on screen sometimes?

Also the outfits in this one are super great.

:siren: UPDATE TIME! :siren:

Today, UNiSON finds themselves in quite the bind! June Baby is out for blood after we ruined her debut, and Doctor Dance is completely out of commission due to a crush on her! Now it’s up to Trill, Cela and Chilly to figure their next broadcast out on their own. Hopefully they won’t run into any problems! It’s time for things to start getting serious as we enter the back half of the story mode!

As stated in the video, the Japanese version of the game uses Love Machine by Morning Musume.

Honestly, as the story and characters start to develop here in the back half, the game could honestly use some longer cutscenes and a chance to explore the characters outside of their immediate surroundings. But alas.


It’s rare that you can say that sort of thing, I think. Kinda makes me wanna do something stupid like trying to buy the IP just to give it the justice it deserves.

God “Stop The Rock” is so good. It fits really well for what they’re doing here. I also really like how this episode ends, it’s a cute reversal. Also never diss the fro, god.

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Ducker’s voice actor is amazing.

:siren: UPDATE TIME! :siren:

Today, things are really starting to heat up! Ducker has started a media campaign to spread fake news about the dangers of dancing in the hopes of quelling our newfound fandom. However, we will not back down! We’re gonna hit the city of Twin Ships with the most infuriatingly infectious hit of the late 90’s and make sure they know we aren’t messing around! Let’s keep pushing back against Ducker’s empire!

The Japanese version of the game uses Sailor-Fuku o Nugasanaide by Onyanko Club for this episode.


… You know, I think I’m less surprised by the twist itself than the method by which it was delivered.