Sawbuck Gamer

Martian Middle School Dance

Friday Night Fever

A visitor from Mars makes first contact in Martian Middle School Dance.

By Drew Toal • May 2, 2013

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap game ($10 or less).

I graduated high school in 1999. Like most other schools, we had a year-end prom to commemorate our collective coming of age. We voted on our “official” prom song, choosing from about a half-dozen hits of the era. What song emerged from this chaotic democratic process, you ask? “All My Life,” by K-Ci and JoJo. Since then, I’ve always thought of it as an aberration, or maybe just a product of our collective apathy. (I’m sure I wrote in a Weird Al song or something equally “rebellious.”) Martian Middle School Dance has made me consider that we were instead victims of a burgeoning cultural phenomenon, swept away in those dulcet tones.

The game puts you in control of an “exchange student,” a gender-neutral Martian trying to negotiate a middle school dance. After choosing which gender you’d like to represent among the segregated herds of boys and girls, it’s up to Martian to get the dance party started. Using the number keys, you wiggle your arms in rhythm to Nelly’s anti-sartorial oppression anthem “Hot In Herre.” Eventually, it comes time to slow dance—the K-Ci & JoJo moment of truth—so you have to position your arms correctly and try not to make awkward conversation with your partner. Despite multiple playthroughs, I had some trouble getting through the dance without my dance partner telling me that I was a weirdo. Some things never change.

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25 Responses to “Friday Night Fever”

  1. NakedSnake says:


  2. PaganPoet says:


  3. Destroy Him My Robots says:

    Step one: First you grab honey by the waist
    Step two: Then you move at a ghetto pace
    Step three: Then you look her dead in the face
    Step four: Now it’s time to leave this place

    • SamPlays says:

      I’ll up the ante with this classic rap:

      “Annie was a high school cheerleader
      Pom poms and bobby socks and no girl sweeter
      Come prom time everybody was on the line
      All the fellas singing nickel and dime
      Tales about love and lust and trust
      But Annie took it all in stride
      ‘Cause deep inside Annie had aspirations
      Wanted to be a chemical engineer
      Making 50 to 55 thousand a year”

      The detail about a chemical engineer’s salary is the best part of that song.

      • Destroy Him My Robots says:

        Gameological turned into a place to repost lyrics so gradually I didn’t even notice (And I Feel Fine)

  4. Aurora Boreanaz says:

    I usually blame my annoying religious affiliation in high school for me not going to prom, but it’s hard to say whether I would have been able to get over my fear of girls enough to ask one to it anyway.

    Maybe…I think I was starting to get over my shyness when my “wonderful” new religion told me I don’t need to worry about girls until I’m ready to get married.  (News flash – If you don’t date, you’ll never know if/when you’re ready, you morons!  Why do you think so many of you end up in shitty abusive marriages after a month of dating?)

    I did go to a few dances in sixth and eighth grade.  Sixth grade I was at a new school and was trying to get up the nerve to ask a girl from my class to dance, when another, prettier one asked me instead.  We somehow ended up winning a dance contest (by acting like spazzes to George Michael’s Faith) and a couple of gift certificates to some local restaurant.  I was her “boyfriend” for less than a week before she decided I was a weirdo and/or dweeb because I got mad at kickball.

    Eighth grade my shyness issues were worse, and I ended up avoiding a girl who actually wanted to dance with me because for some reason I didn’t think she was serious.  She was apparently pissed at me for several years after that, but she was never in a class with me in high school so I didn’t get a chance to apologize.

    So…that strayed a bit from the topic.  Uhh….VIDEO GAMES!  I’ll check this one out when I have time.

    • Jackbert says:

      MORE NOT VIDEO GAME STORIES. Trade out a terrible religion for Asperger’s and we have pretty similar experiences.

      In sixth grade, this one girl seemed to express interest and ended up attending one of my baseball games. We lost by one. I started the game, giving up two runs in three innings. She probably didn’t think I had messed up, because we were ahead by one until the top of the last inning when a reliever gave up two. But I was really angry, and when I’m angry I don’t talk. She approaches me after the game while I’m packing up my bag and says hi. I continue packing up my stuff and she says hi again, probably thinking I didn’t hear her. I sling my bag over my shoulder and walk towards my car. She says hi one more time, and I open the car door, toss in my bag, jump in, and slam-it-the-hell-shut. My mom sees this whole exchange and has to go and explain to the girl about my Asperger’s while I sit in the car, seething. Needless to say, she didn’t express interest after that.

      In eighth grade, I was at co-ed sleep away camp. Given the age, and given the setting, it was mack-city. I got asked out by two girls and refused because, according to a friend, I mistook nervous giggling for “I’m doing this on a dare, I don’t really like you” giggling. The semi-happy ending is I went out a couple with a really horny chick who came up to me and made out with me because it was eighth grade sleep away camp, what do you expect?

      • PaganPoet says:

        I’m pretty sure my awkward middle school love conquests trump everyone else’s. Except maybe Effigy’s, unless she’s one of those creepy lesbians that always knew they were gay.

      • Aurora Boreanaz says:

        The nervous giggling thing always put me on guard too.  That’s why I avoided the girl at the dance.  Of course, I HAD been put into a situation where the girl was talking to me on a dare…but that was about four years earlier and 3000 miles away in a shitty small town full of assholes.

        • Jackbert says:

          I’m already naturally suspicious of laughing. Laughing can mean so many things and I have trouble figuring out which. Giggling is basically very strange laughter only done by girls, which makes me even more suspicious.

          That sucks about the dare thing. I’ve never had to deal with that (as far as I know, I suppose).

  5. His_Space_Holiness says:

    My memories of middle school dances were a little different: show up, stand around for a while, realize that I like neither pop music nor anyone at school, get bored, call parents for pickup, wonder why I bothered. If there were Martians involved, I would’ve stuck around.

    Side note: why is it always middle school when everyone likes the shittiest music?

    • Groofus says:

      The only time I enjoyed myself at a middle school dance was when we had a halloween dance and I wore a giant chicken suit that amused people enough to kind of act like they wanted to talk to me. Other than that I had a very similar experience to you. 

      • Jackbert says:

        I wore a Sid Vicious costume to a Halloween dance once because my mom who was a teen during the late 70s made me. A teacher patted me down for drugs and everyone looked at me funny so I went outside and did math homework until I got picked up.

    • WarrenPeace says:

      Middle school is the time in one’s life when shittiness reigns supreme. The shitty music fits right in alongside the shitty clothes, hairstyles, movies, TV shows, conversational slang, and general attitude. It’s an awkward time; I don’t know how I survived.

    • PaganPoet says:

      *shrug* I loved Garbage and Fiona Apple in middle school. It was the rest of you bitches that had bad taste.

      • SamPlays says:

        Throw Elliott Smith and pre-“Stacy’s Mom” Fountains of Wayne into that mix and we would have been best friends in high school.

    • SamPlays says:

      The best part of my 8th grade dance? Everyone (and literally everyone) forming a big circle and headbanging to “Thunderstruck”. What can I say? I grew up in rural East Coast Canada. Plus, “Thunderstruck” will always be awesome.


  6. duwease says:

    I’m starting to wonder if it’s even possible for it not to end in awkwardness.

    So… pretty accurate simulation.

    • boardgameguy says:

      There is no right answer to “so do you like this song?”

      which might also be a joke about K-Ci and JoJo

  7. SamPlays says:

    I love the fact that I can legitimately make references to K-Ci and JoJo on two unrelated articles on Gameological this week. Derrick’s “Game That Tune” resulted in brief discussions of New Jack Swing and now Drew is talking about the Hailey brothers from JoDeCi. 


    • So you’re makin’ that reference
      And it means so much to meeee
      Ain’t no sites with more geekdom
      Than the A.V. Club familyyy.

      – JoDeCi, “Forever My Gamer”