We Cheer First Impressions

Grab your pom-poms and leave your self-consciousness at home in Namco's new cheerleading game.

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In its short history, the Wii has served up a number of games that have challenged players to flail their arms around in exaggerated motions to accomplish a variety of goals. We Cheer, Namco's new cheerleading game, looks set to trump all of these and become the ultimate in exuberant gestural gameplay. We got a taste of We Cheer's rhythm-and-motion-based action at a recent press event and were pleasantly surprised to find that, in addition to the enormous potential for embarrassment and silliness, We Cheer appears to offer a good bit of fun.

 Swing your arms in circles and try to overlook your questionably-proportioned preteen avatar.
Swing your arms in circles and try to overlook your questionably-proportioned preteen avatar.

So how exactly does one step into the comfortable athletic shoes of head cheerleader? The control system is really quite straightforward. Grab one--preferably two--Wii Remotes and get ready to cheer your heart out. We Cheer eschews the corded limitation of the Nunchuk in favor of two remotes to enable more flailing and less clotheslining. You select one of more than 30 sports-themed songs or contemporary pop hits to cheer to, and then your routine begins. As the song plays, your avatar and her squad dance along in the background while the gestures you must perform pop up onscreen. These range from simple thrusts in one direction, to elaborate zig-zagging actions, to windmilling your arm around in a big circle. The display is reminiscent of Elite Beat Agents and, along with the cheer squad in the background, makes it quite clear what actions you're meant to perform. The actions aren't always easy, especially when the song speeds up, and we can definitely see We Cheer being one of the most physically demanding games on the Wii.

There's no "I" in cheerleading, and accordingly Namco has included multiplayer for up to four people. We saw only two people playing simultaneously, each using one remote to represent one hand on the main avatar. Avatars are all female (sorry, fellas), look a bit like anime Bratz, and feature customizable outfits and pom-poms. A trailer that we saw featured four kids playing at a time, a seemingly risky feat that puts all players and nearby breakable objects in jeopardy.

We Cheer is definitely a game that requires you to check your inhibitions at the door. We saw a bunch of journalists standing flat-footed with their arms at their sides, looking miserable. By contrast, folks who whirled their arms around and moved their feet couldn't help but crack a smile, even if they weren't doing well. It'll be "go big or go home" for Wii cheerleaders when the game is released later this year. We'll have more on this game as it comes along, and hopefully no shortage of embarrassing video footage for your viewing pleasure.

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