A funny thing happened when I fired up Boogie for the first time. After an awful teeny bopper rendition of the EA logo ignited immediate cause for concern, a fat orange alien decked out in Travolta dancing duds started singing a cover of You’re The One That I Want, a song I generally despise, while a Wii Controller and Nunchuk “orchestrated” his dance movements in the foreground. The big guy bounced around the stage like he was fighting in the finals of So You Think You Can Dance, seemingly in perfect harmony with the Wii controllers’ conductor movements. Then his sexy partner joined to form an unlikely dancing and singing duet, and I went from exhibiting casual interest in Boogie to an insatiable desire of getting my Wii groove on.
As I quickly discovered, this ingenious introduction sequence is nothing more than a devious false advertisement for a rhythm/karaoke game that would rather dish out frustration than a good time. What should have been a free moving, fantastically fun party game with both the Wii Remote and Nunchuk is nothing more than a childish two dimensional herky-jerky exercise you literally wouldn’t want to get caught playing with your pants down.
There is a method to the control-scheme madness; however, it’s just not the best one. The Remote acts as an extension of your arm allowing simple movements either left-to-right or up-and-down matched to a song’s beat that taps out-loud through the Remote’s speaker. On the easiest difficulty setting it’s near impossible to miss. For whatever reason, the middle and hardest difficulty often turn into a futile struggle to get the game to understand you’re on beat and it’s wrong in telling you you’re not. Stretch this out over an entire song and monotonous play is contagious.
That’s it. Four shakes of the Wii Remote no more complex than the directions on a compass form the dancing crux of Boogie. Other control distractions, like jumping into a strike-a-pose mini-game during a song or randomly being thrown into a lip-sync mini-game whether you want to or not, break up any toe-tapping the beat movements may have spawned.
The only dancing aids are as monumentally unforgiving as they are poorly designed. Rather than open up a large three-dimensional space to move a routine around in, dancers are restricted to shuffling between nine quadrants on the dance floor — like a giant Tic-Tac-Toe board. Either the Remote’s directional pad or Nunchuk’s analog stick initiate the move, but forget keeping on beat with the Remote during the act. Nine times out of ten, rhythm is broken upon arrival in the new square and potential beat points are wasted. Not moving to new squares squanders opportunities to pick up point multipliers, tokens, and earn additional points for style. In other words, pick your poison.
Rewards are available for racking up successive beat movements in the form of yet another distracting mini-game, the Boogie Meter. Veterans of other rhythm-based games will immediately recognize a “follow the pattern” design when the meter is filled and activated via the B button. A series of directional moves appear on-screen, and it’s up to your mad boogie skills to duplicate the movements to a song’s beat that, when executed without error, send your dancer into a brief super move. Problem is, the game doesn’t always agree with your Remote movements, especially left and right. I’d just assume not activate the meter on the hardest difficulty level as both the Remote and Nunchuk would be sent hurtling into the screen before long.
Losing the Nunchuk to a brick wall wouldn’t be that big of a deal in the grand scheme of Boogie. The game even tells you as much before entering any mode, stating the supplemental controller is optional to play. What? One of the Wii’s greatest advantages besides motion-based controls is having two controllers. Dismissing one on the assumed premise most households won’t own a Nunchuk since it wasn’t included with the console is nothing more than haphazardly tossing 50 percent of the control options down the garbage disposal. Knowing none of the Remote’s buttons are used for dancing doesn’t help that percentage any.
I’ve carefully avoided mentioning the karaoke component of Boogie for no other reason than I find it laughably useless. If a typical Wii game costs either $40 to $50, than the pre-packaged microphone with Boogie for $60 is no better constructed than the diapers my kid sleeps in. I consider myself to have a respectable singing voice before it quickly goes hoarse, yet the microphone translates it into a muffled abomination barely audible above the game’s music. What I feel is dead-on accurate singing to classics I’ve heard a million times like ABC and Boogie Oogie Oogie is labeled “bad.” Other modern songs like Fergilicious and Milkshake, which I find horrible in comparison and don’t know the words to, I receive higher scores on. By the fifth or so song, I resorted to either humming or babbling with the microphone pressed firmly against my lips just to get through it. Wouldn’t you know it — I scored my highest scores by putting forth the least effort.
Boogie does moderately excel off the dance floor with a simple video editing tool. Performances can be cut up to 100 times from a small selection of different camera angles. You can even add vocals if brave enough to want to your voice butchered over and over. Various psychedelic overlays complete the package, which can then be saved and replayed at any time.
What freaks me out about Boogie is not only can’t I shake You’re The One That I Want from streaming through my consciousness, there’s some intangible allure that keeps drawing me back in. And I turn it on again knowing full well there are far better games on my shelf and boredom will set in before the first song ends. Whatever this mysterious draw is, it’s enough for me to dismiss everything wrong with Boogie and hope EA can find their dancing shoes in a sequel.
- Overall: 6.3
- The controls are sketchy and I can’t understand why humming with lips press against the microphone earns a better score than actually trying to sing. But, the game still gets some fun points.
— Dan Bradley