Boogie First Look

EA's Montreal studio will have Wii owners shaking their moneymakers later this year, and we found out how.

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Electronic Arts has been quick to bring games to the Wii, but up to this point, all of those games have been ports of existing games or new twists on old franchises. That's all about to change thanks to Boogie, a new game from EA Montreal, the folks behind SSX Blur and Army of Two. Due out by the end of the year, Boogie is a dancing/karaoke game in which you'll also be able to make your own music videos. The game is still very early in development, but we were able to check out the dancing portion of the game and speak with the game's director, Vander Caballero.

You'll need to channel your inner Travolta to impress Boogie's team of judges.
You'll need to channel your inner Travolta to impress Boogie's team of judges.

The game's unique visual style is apparent right away. The dancing portion of the game takes place on a dance floor (complete with flashing panels) that has been set up on a stage. There's a crowd in front of the stage, and there are three judges in the background; the judges look like a cross between Pikmin and something out of A Nightmare Before Christmas. Caballero promises a host of interesting and fully customizable characters in the final version of the game, but there was only one character in the demo. His name was Grosso, and he looked kind of like Patrick from SpongeBob SquarePants but with spiky hair. Grosso stood on the center of the dance floor facing the audience when KC & The Sunshine Band's "That's The Way I Like It" began to play.

When the music kicked in, Grosso started to dance. Caballero described the way you interact with your character as "puppeteering," and after watching him play, that analogy makes sense. Getting your character to cut a rug is surprisingly simple. The Nunchuk controls your character's lower body movement, so moving it to the left will cause your character to move his or her hips to the left; if you move it in a circular motion, your character's hips will rotate. The Wii Remote is used to control the upper body. A pair of eyes appears onscreen where your remote is pointing, and your character's eyes follow the remote around as it moves, with your character's upper body following suit. This sounds complex, but after seeing it executed, the controls seem to be surprisingly intuitive, and there were a large number of dance moves that could be performed with ease.

But you're not just up there for fun; you've got to impress the audience and the judges too. If you stink up the joint, the crowd will boo and the camera lens will crack, which is a clear indicator that you need to improve your performance. When the song is over, the judges raise scorecards and give you a numerical score based on what they thought of your choreography, tempo, and style. Caballero was quick to point out that this system is a work in progress and could change over time.

Dancing is just one part of the game--you can sing karaoke and make your own music videos too.
Dancing is just one part of the game--you can sing karaoke and make your own music videos too.

The dancing portion of the game is interesting on its own, but you'll also be able to sing along to the music in the game's karaoke mode, and it sounds like the ability to create your own video will add a lot to the game as well. Caballero wasn't ready to release details on these two modes, but he promised that the developers were working on some really neat ideas. He also said that the soundtrack would have a large number of songs, and it seems that multiplayer will play a huge role in the game. Customizing your character's outfits will also play a big role, but again, we were unable to get any specifics.

At this point, there are more questions than answers about Boogie. EA's willingness to show the game so early in development is a testament to both its commitment to developing original content for the Wii and its belief that Boogie's unique concept has what it takes to be a hit. But even with so much about the game still unknown, it's looking very intriguing and has loads of potential.

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