Let’s face it — if you’ve committed yourself to playing a dancing/rhythm game, you should be prepared to look like a fool while doing so. Playing Boogie, Electronic Arts’ original IP dancing title for the Wii, is no exception. If Guitar Hero made peripheral-based music titles cool, Boogie has set the movement back 20 years. But in the end, if a game is fun and engaging, shame knows no bounds.
When Destructoid received our review copy of Boogie from Electronic Arts, I was a bit skeptical — would Nex make fun of me if he saw me dancing shirtless to Britney Spears’ “I’m a Slave 4 U”? So when Chad Concelmo offered to pitch in on our Boogie review, I knew everything was going to be OK. Then he bailed, opting instead to hold off on reviews until an appropriate dolphin-themed game cropped up.
I sent out a mass e-mail to the staff: “Who is going to work with me on this Boogie review?” I asked. No takers — Niero was busy cleaning the robot helmet, and Aaron Linde was busy counting the gold 2K Games sent him for the perfect BioShock review score. Things were looking bleak; it appeared I would have to play Boogie alone.
Then it dawned on me: I live with a nine-year-old!
Guest Reviewer: Damien
[The following is an interview with my nine-year-old son, Damien, regarding his experience with Boogie. I thought having his opinion would be a nice contrast to my own, since I’m not sure Electronic Arts ever intended the game for adults. Regardless, I learned a few things, the least of which is that sometimes it’s hard to get a straight, coherent answer out of a nine-year-old. – Nick]
DESTRUCTOID: How would you describe Boogie?
DAMIEN: (long pause) Fun.
Fun … OK, well what kind of game is it?
A game where you can actually interact and what you do is completely random.
Completely random? What does that mean?
It means that there’s no certain thing that you’ve got to do. I mean, there’s a story where you’ve got to do some stuff, but you can dance anywhere you want.
So it’s a music game, right?
No. It’s a dancing game. Well, you can sing with it in the karaoke mode.
OK, well how do you play the main game?
You’ve got the nunchuck, and the “Wiimote,” and you shake it like this (makes an up and down, drumming motion) or you can move it back (waves both hands in the air). You can also go (waggles hands, almost like he’s doing the robot) like that. And you can do this (does the Macarena).
What do you think about the music in the game?
I like “ABC” (pauses to think) … I just like a lot of the music, especially [Daft Punk’s] “One More Time.” (At this point, he begins to sing “One More Time,” which goes on for about two minutes. I just stare.)
Are you done?
What do you think of the graphics?
Pretty cool, pretty cool. I especially like how it can be 2D and it can be 3D.
Uh, what do you mean by 2D and 3D?
It’s normally 2D, but when you make a video and add the 3D effect, it looks really cool.
OK, so you’re talking about the in-game video editor. Did you like making your own videos?
How many did you make?
Only like … one.
How much time did you spend with it?
Not really a lot.
I don’t know. Because you just make a video, you name it, you save it … and that’s it. There’s no real point to that. I’d rather do something fun, like play the game.
What’s your favorite part of the game? Did you like the dancing, or did you like the karaoke more?
I liked both, because one — I like singing, because I like learning the words and trying to hit the exact pitches of the songs. And two, I like dancing because it’s just fun.
What’s your least favorite part of the game?
I would have to say, filling up the Boogie meter — it makes you go on the beat. Why can’t you just dance how you want to dance?
So you just want to be able to do whatever you want to do, regardless of the game? You’d rather be able to just wave your hands around whatever way you like?
Yeah. I’d rather do this (starting dancing around wildly).
Sit down, this is serious business. Is this game cooler than Pokemon Diamond or Pearl?
Is there any game that’s cooler than Pokemon Diamond or Pearl?
I’d have to say, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption.
OK, that is a pretty cool game … but you haven’t played that yet, though.
I watched the video previews on the Wii.
Right. Well, this is the Internet, so you’ve seen enough to make that judgment. If you could rate Boogie on a scale of one to ten — ten being the best — what would you rate it?
I would actually rate it an eight. It’s a very good game.
Do you have anything else to say about Boogie?
No, but you know what would be cool? If there was a game where you can tear out people’s spines. And then use them as whips.
Verdict: Buy it!
While I can agree with Damien that a game in which you can tear a person’s spine out (and then use it as a whip) would be mega sweet, I don’t share his enthusiasm for Boogie. While the game oozes polish and style, the gameplay and Wii remote implementation is a total let down, and a failed opportunity for EA.
Which is a shame, because as one of EA’s first original IPs for the Wii, it could have set the bar for what’s expected, and what can be done with the Wii hardware. Although Damien had expressed the desire to flail his hands wildly in the air instead of playing an actual game, he failed to realize that’s pretty much exactly what he was doing.
The main game mechanic involves simply shaking the Wii controller with the beat of the song; doing so builds up your Boogie meter, which can be used to activate a Dance Dance Revolution style mini-game, only you use your arm instead of your feet. You’re specifically asked to shake the remote up, down, left, or right, and if you match the pattern, your on-screen character will perform a special dance maneuver. Things flash on the screen, you collect points, and everyone is happy.
Here’s where things get fuzzy: The game’s perceived beat of the songs rarely matches up with that of reality, especially annoying considering there’s a slight lag between Wii remote and the game. The end result is a frustrating waving of hands, and you’re forced to readjust your sense of rhythm to succeed. Luckily, the game is so forgiving that this isn’t too big of a problem. Just keeping waving your hands and you’ll be fine.
And that’s really about as complicated as Boogie gets. Sure, you can use the nunchuck’s analog stick to move your character around on stage in any of eight directions; you can even utilize its motion sensitivity to strike a pose with your character. But ultimately, it doesn’t matter what you do, because even on the game’s hardest settings, your heart would have to stop beating in order for you to fail.
Please … don’t even get me started on this game’s music. Only a child or an adult so far removed from the circle of “cool” could find this soundtrack appealing. We’re talking about everything from lifeless covers of the Pussycat Doll’s “Don’t Cha?” to Lou Bega’s “Mambo No. 5.” It’s a collection of tracks that only an aging wedding DJ trying desperately to remain hip could approve of. I guess it would have been too much to ask for a relevant and interesting soundtrack in a rhythm/dance game that’s clearly to be aimed at casual gamers and children who don’t know any better.
Outside of the gameplay and a cringe-worthy soundtrack, though, Boogie has some things going for it. The game has a slick visual style that fits well with both the Wii’s graphical strengths and demographic. There’s a wide variety of modes and character customization options, as well as a handful of multiplayer modes. The game even ships with a USB microphone, for use with the game’s karaoke modes (I sure hope the mic works with Rock Band!).
The problem is, regardless of Boogie‘s slick exterior and presentation, it’s hard to balance that with such repetitive and broken gameplay. The bones for a decent rhythm game are here, but EA is going to have to put a bit more substance and polish into the game if it’s going to breach that gap between the “gamers” and the “casuals.”
Might I suggest whips made out of human spines?
Verdict: Borrow it!
Destructoid Final Verdict
Final Score (an average): 6/10