Move your feet and feel united, oh-oh-oh!
With the Wii attracting such wide-ranging audiences, and more specifically a vast 'lightweight' crowd, it makes sense that singing and dancing should be at the top of most publishers' Wii development schedules. And so we have EA taking to the stage with its Wii-exclusive dance-and-sing 'em up, Boogie.
Over the past few months, anticipation
for the game has built and built, and last month's brief hands-on set the stage for something really rather special. But can this rather ambitious little entertainer provide anything more than a bit of throwaway fun? Well, read on...
Boogie sets out its stall from the word go. It wants to give you the ultimate entertainment package and, initially at least, it does just that. In the first five minutes you'll be taken through the various methods in which the Wii Remote and Nunchuk let you dance and move around a stage. You'll also learn that the game's packaged USB microphone lets you sing along to a whole bunch of
classic '70s, '80s, '90s and modern tracks. After that, you can even edit your performance and create your own music video. That, in a nutshell, is Boogie. But does it actually work?
Despite the rather intricate controls that various promo videos may have implied, dancing in Boogie is actually a decidedly simple affair. While the song is playing you'll be given a beat aid in the form of an on-screen graphic that rises and falls to the beat. To help you even further, the Wii Remote speaker plays a metronome click.
Born To Boogie
All you need to do is wave the remote left, right, up or down in time to the beat. Every different direction results in a different move, different sequences of moves will string together different moves and if you keep up with the beat for more than a few bars you'll become 'On Fire' and pull off a different set of moves. You can also tap the A button to change your dancing style and mix things up a bit. You soon learn that mixing it up while keeping to the beat will result in massive scores, which is ultimately the aim of the game.
All the while you can use the Nunchuk's analogue stick (or D-pad if you prefer) to move your character around on the stage. The reasons for moving around are three-fold. Firstly, it'll help you to pick up the various upgrades that drop from the sky (more on those in a bit). Secondly, you can pull off slightly different moves if you're at the edge of the stage and thirdly, moving around will make your music video much more interesting.
Ripping It Up!
With the standard dancing explained we really should tell you about the 'super moves'. Every time you pull off a move to the beat your Boogie gauge will fill up a little. Holding the B button will enable you to pull off your character's signature move. A sequence of directions (left, right, up, down, for example) will pop up on screen and you have to gesture with the remote to pull off that particular move. All the while your Boogie gauge will be slowly emptying. What the game fails to tell you is that every successive gesture needs to be done to the beat and a certain number of bars apart. If you do it too quickly it simply won't work. In our opinion it's a flaw but you'll pull it off every time once you learn what you need to do. Prepare for a string of obscenities until that eureka moment though.
The second, and far superior special move, is Strike A Pose. Once your Boogie meter is full you can hold Z to jump into Strike A Pose mode. You need to make your character strike poses and you do this by aiming a cursor at on-screen targets. You twist and turn the Nunchuk to move the cursor, and ultimately, your character. Each successive target gets smaller and more difficult to hit.
Once you master the targets, you might also want to try using the analogue stick to move your character's eyes and tap the C button to move your character's mouth in time to the melody. All of this will earn you more points and make your final video look even better.
Last of all is the Solo mode. This drops in involuntarily at certain points during each song and requires you to tap the Z button in time with the icons that pop up on screen from time to time.
Voice Of An Angel
Of course, Boogie isn't just a dancing game. It's also a karaoke game and you can sing along to all 39 of the game's songs thanks to the microphone that comes packed in. The mic plugs into the USB port on your Wii but thankfully the lead is more than long enough. You can choose to have your voice playing through the speakers, or, if you're a little shy, you can choose to have your input triggering the game's vocal.
It all works really well and our only criticism would be that if you can sing at a semi-decent standard you're going to find it all very easy. Even on Hard mode you only have to score 400,000 points and we were hitting well over a million points every time we played.
Step It Up
Scoring Boogie is quite a tough call. On
the one hand, it successfully ticks all the boxes in its quest to become the ultimate multiplayer entertainment package. It is genuinely good fun in multiplayer but there are several annoying factors that pull Boogie up short and prevent it from fulfilling its full potential.
For starters, it just isn't as in-depth or rewarding as it should be. It's genuinely annoying that you can't pull off moves to the half-beat. Moves are only registered
on the beat. However, this probably has something to do with how accurate the
Wii Remote is.
It's also really annoying that decent combos just don't exist. Changing dance styles is so slow and moving your character about so lethargic that you can't possibly string together moves. Granted, this would turn off the lightweight users but why not have the option for more complex moves in there so that people can master them if they want to?
We're also dumbfounded by the fact that EA hasn't chosen to support song downloads via WiiConnect24. With WiiWare going live early next year it really is a missed opportunity. The songs included are mostly well selected, but you're going to get bored of them sooner or later.
Hang The DJ?HERE
Our last gripe stems from how you can waste an entire Boogie meter if you happen to go for a Strike A Pose or attempt a character special just as a Solo kicks in and negates it. Some kind of warning or Solo countdown would've been a simple way to get over this.
That said, Boogie is still an extremely entertaining game. The main Story mode won't last you very long but, like Wii Sports and Rayman Raving Rabbids, you'll be booting it up time and time again for a 30-minute blast with your mates. And in that respect, it provides great value for money.
Ultimately though, we really have to take our hats off to EA for having the balls to go all out in developing not only an exclusive title for the console but also investing in an entirely new Wii peripheral. As a package, it's a breath of fresh air that will put a smile on anyone's face.