Boogie Wii Review

You really have to feel sorry for my poor Wii. It languishes below my TV, watching as I put hour after hour into the 360, or my PC, without anything to offer to pull me back. If I weren’t so terrified of spiders, there’d probably be webs all over it. The continued lack of interesting, gamer-grabbing titles for the console is bordering on the criminal, with the much maligned party game titles appearing to take up much of the release schedule.

Thus it was with some apprehension that I carried this review copy of Boogie from my hallway into the living room, and even a little touch of guilt. By playing, and subsequently writing about Boogie, I might inadvertently encourage the continued drought of enjoyable games for my aforementioned unfortunate Wii. Also, seeing as Boogie is a karaoke/dancing title, my Wii would also have to endure the caterwauling that once had me relegated to “miming along” by a music teacher many moons ago.

However, I hardened my heart, and cleared my throat then spent five minutes trying to remember where the USB ports are on the enigmatically hatch-covered casing of the Wii (they’re on the back, by the way). Why, you might ask, was I wasting time fumbling at the back of my Wii when there was karaoke to be had? Well, Boogie comes with a rather hefty Microphone for use with the Wii console, though why it hasn’t been made wireless like any of the other Wii accessories is a bit of a puzzler. Nevertheless, it comes with a sufficiently long length of cable, so that you can sit comfortably without having to pull the sofa closer to the TV every time you need to sing.

So, mic in, sound-proofing on, ready to go. Oh, wait I’ve crashed it. Twice. After booting up the game, it invites you to select a character to play as and modify them with different clothes and accessories. However, the strain of such an arduous task of applying a different skin to the “Boog” I selected was enough to make Boogie give up the ghost. Cue an elongated high-pitched whine from the speakers of my TV (no, it wasn’t me hitting the high notes), and me frantically scrabbling for the reset button. Having managed the prodigious feat of crashing the game twice in a row by trying to pimp out my character with red trousers and day-glo sneakers, I had to concede and accept the default settings. Just as well, anyway, considering that the mere act of requesting an alternative skin sent the DVD drive of the Wii whizzing. After a considerable delay, the skin would appear. Compared to the quick and easy Mii designer, the character editor in-game is slow and cumbersome. Bearing in mind the audience that Boogie is aimed at, kids are far less likely to put up with crashes and delays that I was, and may lead to frustrations from the outset.

Anyway, onto the game. It launches straight into a tutorial, introducing the core components of the game – namely dancing and singing. Dancing is controlled by the motion-sensitive Wii controls, with the option to play one-handed with the Wiimote alone or by attaching the Nunchuck for the full monty. No, not actually the Full Monty. This is a kids’ game, you weirdo.

During dancing segments, a metronome-like beat comes from the speaker on the Wiimote, while the selected tune bangs out of the television. To dance, the player must shake the Wiimote back and forth in time to the beat. Moving at the right time earns points, with a multiplier kicking in when consecutive moves are in time with the music. Pulling off the same moves earns less points than shaking things up with different movements and styles. This pretty much amounts to moving your hand up and down instead of side to side. Achieving this builds up power in your Boogie Meter, which can be spent to activate special moves or to pose your Boog for added points. The dancing is neither fun nor difficult. Also, with games like Wario Ware, the appeal is that it encourages players to act out the game, conceding that it will make them look ridiculous but entertaining for others. In this way, the game encourages a party-atmosphere, particularly where alcohol is involved. With Boogie, the game makes it clear that the entire dancing section can be controlled just by moving your hand. There is no incentive for acting out or making oneself look like a nut-case, and hence loses its appeal as a party game.

However, the singing section should be where the party’s at. After all, karaoke is the source of drunken rabbles assaulting the ear-drums of anyone in the vicinity in pubs across the world. Singing on the Wii is the most fun that can be garnered from Boogie, though it pales into insignificance compared to the likes of Singstar. There is a good number of tracks to be belted out, ranging from the ultra-cheesy Kung-Fu Fighting to modern “hits” such as Don’t Cha. Most of the songs are by cover artists, but come across surprisingly well. The microphone works well, picking up even the most embarrassed whisper, though the actual singing mechanic of the game is disappointing. Boogie, unlike Singstar, doesn’t pick up on phonetics. Instead, the quality of your singing is judged by the pitch at which you sing. Therefore, it isn’t strictly necessary to sing the correct lyrics or indeed any lyrics at all, provided you can make a sound that sends the onscreen pointer scurrying to the right level. Consequently, the singing aspect of the game is too easy, as fudging the lyrics carries next to no penalty.

The game modes are limited and shallow. From a basic storyline campaign, in which you sing and dance to unlock the stories of the handful of Boogs (think Miis but aliens), to quick game modes where the player either sings or dances to unlock new songs and dance venues, nothing grabs players to keep coming back. Somewhat predictably for Nintendo’s apparently offline online-capable console, there is no multiplayer mode for playing across the Internet. It’s unfortunate, because singing duets or having dance battles against small Japanese children may have prolonged the appeal, if not for older players but certainly for the younger generation. Even for the oft-lamented “casual gamers”, Boogie has little to offer beyond vivid, colourful graphics, snazzy packaging and a microphone.

If only they’d included earplugs as well.