Boogie Updated Hands-On

EA gives us a look at an updated version of its groovy Wii dancing and karaoke game in advance of the Electronic Entertainment Expo.

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REDMOND, Wash.--EA showed off an updated version of Boogie, its upcoming dance and karaoke game for the Wii, at Nintendo's recent press event. The game has come a surprising way since we last saw it a few weeks ago at EA's Canadian studio. Besides featuring a much more polished look and front end, the game has benefited from a number of gameplay tweaks that have improved its handling.

The biggest update in the version on display is the gameplay, which has undergone some serious tweaks since the much more free-form experience we had earlier. Your boogie meter is now joined by a rhythm meter, which shows how well you're keeping time with the rhythm. The better you do, the more points you get and the faster your meter will fill. Once the meter fills and you trigger your special moves, you'll see prompts for special dance moves. The karaoke game also features a similar enhancement--you'll see a meter to track the quality of your singing. The new elements add more structure to the game, which seems like a good thing. This is especially noticeable in multiplayer, which has you competing against a friend in a dance-off.

Control has been tweaked for the better and is now more responsive. We'd still like the game to have a tighter feel, but the new version was definitely an improvement. The analog stick is now used for movement, as opposed to being used for sorting facial expressions on your character. Those fiending to mug for the camera shouldn't be bummed, because the game will let your character strike a pose.

The presentation has tightened up since our last look, resulting in cleaner visuals and smoother animation. Though it's still not quite as polished looking as we'd like to see, it's certainly heading in the right direction. The new version featured updated front-end visuals and a full array of selectable characters from the Boog family. In addition to Lea and Bubba, we were able to play as Julius, Kato, and Jet, and each of the characters featured his or her own unique look and animations.

The family also busts out with solid lip-synching during karaoke. Each of the characters also features a robust array of looks, courtesy of your ability to customize their head, torso, legs, and shoes. In addition to the new playable characters, there were two new stages shown: Blingwood Hills Estate and the Lost Temple of Funk. Blingwood Hills lets you get your groove on in front of a lavish mansion, while the Temple of Funk has you shaking your thing amid ruins. The new characters and levels were enhanced by refined special effects, and there were new meters for the dancing and karaoke that will provide feedback on how well you keep time or stay in tune.

The audio is pretty much in line with what we heard in our last look at the game. The centerpiece of the experience is still the music. In addition to "Brickhouse," the new version of the game will feature "Dontcha" by the Pussycat Dolls, "You're The One That I Want" from Grease, and "That's The Way I Like It" by KC & the Sunshine Band.

From the look of things, Boogie is making strides to be a good mix of the casual gameplay EA is aiming for and the more structured experience that makes for a fun game. There's still some tuning that needs to happen in the game's control and in the feedback you get as you play, but given the tweaks that have happened since we last saw the game, we're hopeful that it will all pull together.

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