All Star Cheer Squad Hands-On
We move, we cheer, and we dance our way to become the next cheerleading captain.
It was only a matter of time before cheerleading games made their way to the Nintendo Wii. All Star Cheer Squad from THQ uses the motion controls of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, as well as the Wii Balance Board, to provide a complete cheerleading experience in your living room without the pom-poms. If you've been itching to bust a move since the movie Bring It On, you'll be happy to know that the cheer choreographer from the movies, Tony G, helped with the actions and routines for the game. All Star Cheer Squad is clearly aimed at the young female audience, but you can choose to be a male or female cheerleader. Because if you've ever seen a real cheerleading competition, cheering isn't just for girls.
From the main menu, you have Career mode, a single-player campaign that will unlock events and items with which you can customize your cheerleader. Quickplay is for practicing and competing without having to go through the drama that comes along with Career mode, while the multiplayer mode lets you cheer with friends. When you jump into Career mode, you'll be labeled as the newbie until you can prove yourself to Fox Squad. You create your own male or female cheerleader, as well as choose his or her outfit and facial features. There is some customization, but the options don't feel like they change anything unless it involves changing your character's eyes or hair color. You're kind of stuck with the same character model, and you'll soon notice that everyone looks the same anyway. Once you've picked a uniform and put on some makeup (which is the equivalent of face paint), you'll join the team. Fox Squad's star cheerleader is out of commission because of an ankle injury, so it's your turn to step up and show them your moves. The game will slowly open up practice sessions and new routines for you to get up to speed; not to mention that fact that you'll have to first get past the tryouts if you even want to be a part of the team. Throughout your career, you can challenge your squad members and move up in rank. More events will unlock, and soon, you'll find yourself at events competing for first place.
During a routine, there is a cheer line at the bottom of the screen and your moves will scroll from the right to left. The goal is to pose as soon as the arrows enter into the circular zone on the left side. If you bust out your moves too early, you won't earn as many points and you'll earn nothing for missing it entirely. Pink and blue arrows will indicate what position your Wii Remote and Nunchuk need to be in, which can be in any kind of combination. For example, you might have to hold them straight up, at a 90-degree angle from each other, pointed toward the television screen, or tilted back toward you. As the routines get harder, you'll also encounter buttons that will appear with the arrows, and if you're using the Wii Balance Board, you'll have to coordinate your feet with your arms. Because the Nunchuk and Wii Remote are linked together, you can't actually extend your arms out fully (unless you're five years old) to perform the moves the way they're displayed on screen. Instead, you're just tilting the controller from one position to the next, so you can't cheer full-out with feeling. Things do get a lot more chaotic when you bump up the difficulty and throw in the balance board, but chances are, there are no back flips or cool stunts included.
Up to four cheerleaders can play at one time, cooperatively or competitively. You can team up and try to get the highest routine score as a group or play against each other in Versus mode. When playing in a competitive mode, every time you nail three perfect moves, you'll earn a call out. Call outs can be used to attack your opponent's cheer line, defend yourself from an oncoming attack, or charge your own cheer line to protect yourself from attacks and double up your points. When you're tired of cheering, you can become the choreographer and come up with your own custom routine.
Our build for All Star Cheer Squad is still an early one, so hopefully by the time it ships, the animation for the routines will be more realistic. Right now, when we mess up a move, our character stiffens and jerks around a bit before returning to his or her original position. However, you normally wouldn't be able to watch your characters perform because you'll be focused on your timing, but you'll want to take a peek every now and then to see what kind of moves they're doing. Get ready to bring on the cheer when All Star Cheer Squad is released on October 27 for the Nintendo Wii and DS.
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