Nintendo fans were quite shocked when Electronic Arts not only revealed plans to bring exclusive versions of The Godfather and SSX to Wii, but also a brand new Intellectual Property in the form of 'Boogie'. But is this rhythm / singing game worth the money? And with the likes of Singstar and Guitar Hero already on the market, do we really need another all-singing, all-dancing type of title? Considering the Wii currently lacks either of those games, clearly EA saw a gap in the market and took the plunge. Let us see how well it turned out, though...
As Boogie is a game based around singing and dancing, you might not expect it to have any sort of story at all; yet you would be wrong in this assumption, as EA has squeezed one in for the sake of it. But it is not terribly good, in all honesty, and only worth playing through in order to practice more and unlock the bonuses tucked away at the end of each character's story mode. Another slightly negative point related to the story, and this might sound like a petty thing, is that even though the story is both odd and not very interesting, it would have been nice to actually read it without the need for a magnifying glass! Yes, the on-screen text is surprisingly small to the point where you feel like skipping it each time. But anyway, the meat of the game...
One of the main aspects of the game is dancing, yet rather than use a dance mat like the Dancing Stage series, you must do various movements with the Wii controller, trying all the while to keep within the beat of the song. You can shake the controller left and right, up and down and press either the Nunchuk's analogue stick or the Wii-mote's D-pad in different directions to trigger other moves as well. Not only this, but you can score more points by doing different poses, which are activated by holding the Z button and moving the on-screen cursor towards the target that appears. Okay, perhaps the accuracy of the movements is not 100% perfect, but for the purposes of the game being fun it succeeds in being sufficiently capable of keeping up with your gestures. After all, have you played Wii Sports? Well, then you will definitely know that the Wii controls can go a little awry at times if you are not spot on with your execution, but it does not prevent you from enjoying the experience.
Anyway, the longer you keep the beat for, the more your 'special' meter fills up. When you have enough power, activate it and a special combination pattern appears on screen and you have to move the Wii-mote in the specified directions, whilst also keeping the beat of the song. This can be a little frustrating because of the inaccuracy aspect, but a little patience and resilience goes a long way and it will not be long before everything becomes second nature, with you pulling off fantastic combination moves. You can also move around the various dance arenas and collect special tokens to bump up your score even more, which inevitably leads to a greater final mark and extra points added to your collection for unlocking goodies later on.
And then there is the singing aspect, which again if you are going to be picky is just 'okay', but if you approach the game from the family fun angle then it is raucous, laugh-filled enjoyment all the way. To start with there is only a limited selection of tracks available, but the more you play the game, the more you can unlock (as expected, and a good incentive to keep playing). Choose from the likes of Oops! I Did it Again by Britney Spears, Love Shack by the B-52s, Mambo No.5 by Lou Bega or even Rollercoaster by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and away you go. The game comes bundled with a free microphone that plugs into one of the USB ports on the back of the Wii console and works considerably well indeed, picking up your voice without any hassle. Before you begin the karaoke side, though, you can thankfully tweak the options for how well your voice is picked up by the mic, as well as if you want to hear more of your voice blaring out of the speakers or that of the cover artists.
And for those that are tone deaf, there is also the option of an on-screen guide that not only gives you the usual set of lyrics, but helps you out by showing what pitch each section of the word should be sung at. So whilst singing, the microphone translates the singing pitch onto the on-screen bar so you can gauge whether a certain word should be sang higher, lower or stretched out (for instance). This helps considerably...although no doubt some will have more fun just belching out the words in any old fashion because they think they know best (á la many of the contestants on the likes of X Factor!).
Once you are happy with your singing and dancing performance, you can choose to video whichever character you chose dancing, with your voice singing in the background over the music. This video can then be edited in a plethora of ways and saved for future playback. In this respect it is rather sad an online aspect was not included, so you could share with others. But it is still a real laugh to watch your often-hideous creations played back afterwards. Other than this, there are various dance stages to unlock, plus lots of character customisation and multiplayer options so you can have great fun with friends and family in what is quite a light-hearted form of entertainment.
Whilst the Wii controls may not be 100% accurate, a little patience is all it takes to have great fun in the dancing mode, whilst the singing and video editing are a real laugh as well.
The game is nothing particularly wonderful to look at, but the characters are all unique personalities and everything does its job sufficiently.
The music played on the various menu screens is very pleasing indeed, as is the wide selection of songs on offer for dancing and singing to.
Either going crazy on your own and capturing the results on video or playing around with your friends, Boogie proves to be a surprisingly sturdy effort that will be accepted well by the masses.
Some sectors will look at a game like this and be far too critical purely because they miss the point. EA set out to appeal to the casual side of the Wii market, a group that has not had the chance to sing and dance with their Wii consoles so far. And you know what? It managed to create a really strong game for those gamers. Boogie has a great selection of songs, lots of extras tucked away and is lots of fun with friends and family.
I wasn't really expecting much after the slating some site gave it...but then again, other places have been giving it 8s and so on. Anyway, it was pleasantly surprising and I can certainly see the appeal to casual gamers and families.
It's certainly done very well in the UK...I didn't expect it to manage to break into the Top 10, that's for sure! I have no doubt the PS2 and DS versions will be equally successful, if not even more so.