We got our first look at EA's Nintendo DS version of Boogie, the hybrid dance and karaoke game for the Wii, a few months ago. The game is shaping up to be a smart departure from the somewhat awkward mix of content from the Wii game. On the DS, it's a straightforward rhythm game that blends gameplay elements from the Wii as well as Elite Beat Agents to offer a pared-down experience that appears to be shaping up as a good fit for the handheld system.
The game features three gameplay modes: dance now, career, and multiplayer. Dance now is essentially a quick-play mode that lets you hop right in to a dance, a series of minigames, or a practice game. You'll find 10 minigames in total to choose from, each with its own unique use of the DS's touch screen or mic. The "clap your hands" minigame requires you to tap an onscreen circle with the stylus each time that a star goes through it. "Dip your hip" makes you to follow a moving point around your dancer with the stylus, and you have to keep tabs on the direction it's following. "In the spotlight" requires you to use the D pad to keep your dancer under a moving spotlight. "Tap your toes" challenges you to tap lit squares on the dancefloor before they disappear. In "put it on record," you have to use the stylus to keep a pair of spinning records headed in the right direction to keep your dancer balanced. "Make some noise" requires you to speak, sing, or tap the DS microphone at the right time. "Strummer" challenges you to strum a guitar in the correct direction at the proper time. "Whiplash" tasks you with running your stylus up and down an onscreen arrow as it moves around the screen. "Sketch it" challenges you to draw a shape onscreen according to a smaller image that appears in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. Finally, "jingle jingle" requires you to tap tambourines as they appear onscreen.
The career mode is a deeper run through a series of challenges that lets you take one of five characters-- Julius, Lea, Kato, Jet, or Bubba--on a personal dancing adventure through locales spread out on a world map. Multiplayer features two modes: dance off, for players who have the game cart; or download play, for players who don't. In download play, you give data to up to three other players so that you can face off in copycat, freestyle, and choreography games. Besides the proper game modes, you'll find a tutorial that will help you hone your dancing skills. In addition, a character option will let you customize your character of choice with new gear that radically alters his or her appearance.
Boogie's look and sound work well on the portable system thanks to some creative mixing and matching. The visuals are clean and match the aesthetic style of the Wii game. You'll see a mix of 2D art and fully 3D characters that blends pretty well. The game also features a 3D effect, provided that you slap on some glasses, which helps give the game some depth. The audio borrows heavily from the effects and music heard in the Wii game, but with a few things pared down here and there.
Based on what we played, EA is smartly morphing Boogie from its awkward Wii roots to a modest but solid DS game. What we've played handles pretty well and gains some depth over its Wii cousin, which helps give the game a better overall feel. The 3D effect is cool albeit gimmicky--odds are no one will be grooving out with 3D glasses in public--but the visuals manage to look just fine without it. If you're hungry for a rhythm game and have worked your way through Elite Beat Agents and Ontamarama, it could be worth it to keep an eye out for Boogie. The game is set to hit stores on November 29, and a PlayStation 2 version hits on November 15.