'Johnny Bravo' Creator, Erasure's Vince Clarke, Medal of Honor Vet Join Forces on Video Game

8:30 AM PST 03/27/2014 by Jonathan Bernstein
Cartoon Network/Courtesy of Neal Peters
"Johnny Bravo"

The creative partners will launch a Kickstarter campaign for "Dancers of War" -- described as "a cross between 'Rambo' and 'Footloose,' the good version" -- on March 31.

Van Partible, creator of Cartoon Network’s Johnny Bravo; Scott Eaton, the gaming industry veteran and weapons specialist for Medal of Honor, Call of Duty and Lost Planet 3; and Vince Clarke, founder of Depeche Mode, Yaz and Erasure, are joining forces on Dancers of War, a new video game for both Mac and PC.

The trio is joined by veteran entertainment marketing consultant Michael Pagnotta -- current Erasure manager and former longtime media advisor to Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen -- in the newly formed venture Easy Like, LLC. The company will commence a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for Dancers of War on March 31.

“The whole idea of a game centered around a dance battle just seemed really funny and fresh to me,” Partible tells The Hollywood Reporter. Calling the third-person action video game “a cross between Rambo and Footloose, the good version” (read: the 1984 original starring Kevin Bacon), Partible adds: “We’re taking a lighthearted approach to violent and mature games by doing a mashup with the world of dance and music.”

Partible and Eaton know each other from their college days as students at L.A.’s Loyola Marymount, while Partible and Clarke had previously worked together when Clarke contributed music to Johnny Bravo.

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The year-old collaboration draws upon the partners’ decades of experience in television, music, teen marketing and gaming. Merging the satirical and outlandish humor that is Partible’s trademark with Clarke’s percolating synths, Dancers of War hopes to provide a tongue-in-cheek yet super-competitive alternative to the war games that currently dominate the space.

“It’s a good marriage,” Partible says. “We’re having such a good time creating something that’s unlike a lot of the stuff that’s out there.” Which is probably a big part of the reason why Dancers of War has yet to be bought by a major gaming company. “Every time we pitch this to someone, it tickles them. I’m like, ‘Why isn’t someone buying it?’ Because it doesn’t fit into any of the traditional video game genres. They want the tried and true formulas, these epic, violent, fighting games, the bloodier the better. We wanted to pick something different yet universal -- because everyone can dance.”

So the team decided to try their luck at Kickstarter, a digital platform that’s enabled gaming companies like InXile and Double Fine Productions to successfully fund a number of projects. The initial goal for the Dancers of War campaign is $750,000, and backers will be rewarded with prizes ranging from personalized artwork to tickets and backstage passes for Erasure when the group embarks on its latest concert tour in the fall of 2014. (Clarke and singer Andy Bell are currently working on a follow-up to this winter’s Snow Globe.)

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Concept-wise, Dancers of War is both highly amusing and seriously challenging. The game centers around Sgt. Jack Dancer, a hardcore marine thrust into a world where dance has been weaponized. Inhabiting the role of Dancer, players arm themselves with an exoskeleton/leotard called the Exo-Tard 3000, then dance-battle through a legion of zombie-like soldiers in order to free a group of kidnapped dance masters. With each master he saves, the player adds moves and energy to his “boogie arsenal” until he’s earned enough power to face the ultimate dance warrior.

Despite the main character’s name, “he doesn’t have the greatest dance skills,” Partible says. “Still, he’s all in. We all know someone like him.” Visits to the game’s various levels will enable Dancer to try out all manner of moves, like hip-hop, ’80s electronica, even ballet.

Eaton has brought on his sister, the professional dancer Lisa Eaton, whose credits include the choreography for the Maroon 5 video “Moves Like Jagger,” to design signature steps like the ever-popular Sprinkler, along with the Monkey, which was popularized on Johnny Bravo.

“In doing this Kickstarter, I want to inspire others to create what they want to create,” Partible says. “If I can get people to see that this is a new way of creating content, then we’ll see more cool stuff out there. Because right now, we’re seeing more of the same.”

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