The Wii is an ideal breeding ground for video games based on new, original intellectual properties, particularly of the casual variety. Even EA, having gained a reputation in recent years for not thinking outside of its hit franchises, has joined the movement. Their latest creation, from the development team at EA Montreal, is a title called Boogie. Part rhythm/music, part karaoke, and ultimately a party game, Boogie is unquestionably an ambitious effort, but does it have the makings to become a staple among EA's popular franchises?
Players begin by choosing one of a handful of colorful characters, then customizing him or her with hair, clothing and accessory options. From there, it’s off to one of the game’s modes; Story, Karaoke and Dance Modes for solo play, and Party Mode for dance-offs with your friends. Unfortunately, Boogie is a very poor singleplayer game. The Story Mode is uninspiring and the Karaoke Mode is a complete mess. Dance Mode presents the only entertainment and even it gets old quickly. Allow me to explain.
In Story Mode, you select a character and follow him or her on a series of challenges that unravels their particular storyline. Sadly, none of the storylines are all that engaging. It doesn’t help that each of the characters, human or otherwise, speak in a sort of Rayman jibberish. I mean here’s the chance to give these vibrant characters some personality but instead, we’re relegated to reading subtitles to understand what they’re saying and what’s happening. Once you play through one of the character’s stories, you’re likely to have had enough of that mode.
The Karaoke Mode isn’t much better, but for a completely different reason; it doesn’t work. Boogie comes with an EA-branded, black Logitech USB microphone so you can sing along to your favorite tunes while being judged on your singing ability. In theory, it works along the same lines as Karaoke Revolution or SingStar, with the lyrics running across the bottom of the screen. You earn points by matching the pitch of the notes. In reality, you don’t even have to sing. You can whistle or tap on the microphone and you’ll still accumulate the requisite points. The game isn’t able to distinguish noise from voice and that’s disappointing.
If Boogie were strictly a karaoke game, it’d be in a lot of trouble. But it’s not. It’s also a rhythm/music game, and that comes in the form of a Dance Mode. In this mode, players use the Wii Remote as a sort of metronome, waving it side to side, up and down to match the beat. As you wave the Remote, your character will perform various dance moves in one of two dance styles (you can alternate dance styles by pressing the A button). As long as you remain on beat, you’ll rack up points and more importantly, fill up your Boogie Meter. When the Boogie Meter is full you can pull off dance combos by holding the B button and then matching the on-screen arrows with the Wii Remote. You can also use your Boogie Meter to “Strike a Pose” by holding the Z button on the Wii Nunchuk and then tilting the Nunchuk to reach targets that appear on-screen.
Sometimes when you’re dancing, a Party Freak will appear on the dance floor carrying power-ups in the form of point multipliers, Boogie Meter boosts, tokens that you can use later to purchase new songs, stages and accessories from The Shop, as well as items to hinder your opponent if you’re playing in Party Mode. In order to get these items, you have to move your character around the dance floor using either the Control Pad or the Control Stick. You’ll also get the opportunity to perform a few bars of a vocal solo during your dance routine, but I think I’ve said enough about the karaoke portion of the game.
That’s the Dance Mode in a nutshell. Essentially it boils down to waving the Wii Remote in one of four directions to perform four dance moves over and over. Ultimately there are 8 dance moves per character (4 moves x 2 dance styles each, not including combos) and since you have access to all the moves from the start, the Dance Mode can become repetitive. There’s not much of a feeling of progression, other than unlocking new songs, stages and accessories. I think it would have benefited the Dance Mode greatly if you only had access to one style of dance, and that you had to unlock new styles of dance. I guess what I’m saying is even the Dance Mode gets old fast.
If you get tired of solo play (and you will), Party Mode awaits. Here you can challenge a friend to a dance-off on the same stage at the same time to a series of songs. Party Mode is unquestionably the best way to enjoy Boogie, which is why, ultimately, Boogie is a party game. Another high point is the Video Maker that allows you to turn any one of your dance or singing performances into a music video. The performance is cut into 100 pieces and you can literally make each cut different, by choosing one of four camera angles and a dozen video effects. Lots to play with here.
From a presentation standpoint, I found Boogie to be really appealing. The characters are unique and colorful, there are plenty of clothing options to customize them with, and the backgrounds for the performances are nicely varied. The tracklist features an impressive mix from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s. You’ll hear the likes of “ABC” by the Jackson 5, “Celebration” from Kool and the Gang, Jamiroquai’s “Virtual Insanity”, as well as recent hits from Fergie, The Pussycat Dolls, Britney Spears, and Kelis.
Boogie presents an interesting mix: a music/rhythm game, a karaoke game and a party game all in one, but it just doesn’t execute any of those genres all that well. The Story Mode is forgettable and the Karaoke Mode is broken. Only the Dance Mode presents an entertaining diversion and even it gets old quickly. Boogie works best as a party game, if you really get into it, but with a $60 price tag, there's just not enough for me to recommend this song and dance number.