It’s a universal truth that every pre-teen in the known universe aspires to become a pop sensation. Well, at least, that’s what EA seems to believe, as they showcase once again in their sequel to the rhythm/karaoke game Boogie, Boogie Superstar. While the original game presented a mix of two fairly entertaining aspects, the sequel completely screws up both aspects of the game. Not only that, but many of the aspects that barely kept the first iteration afloat are nowhere to be found here. Is it feasible to attempt the sequel? The short answer is no.
Bundled with a microphone and Natasha Bedingfield poster with a set of dance moves printed on the back, Boogie Superstar wants you to get down. When you pop the game in your Wii, you’re greeted with a horrendously bland young man who directs you in a strange, Simlish-like language to create your character. After taking note of the obvious Sims-like direction EA has decided to steer their music and rhythm effort in, I was suitably disappointed. In the original Boogie, zany creatures with individual personalities who spoke English dominated the menus and tutorials. Now, the game has been sanitized and cleaned up to fit the generic stick-thin, Abercrombie and Fitch-wearing audience who will likely eat up Twilight and anything related to the Jonas Brothers. As soon as I took note of this I wanted to run as far away from the game as humanly possible. But for you, our dear TGR readers, I would persevere through the worst games. That’s why, as embarrassed as I was, I lifted the Wii remote and created a suitably thin and bland character.
Character customization is fair at best. There are no hair colors (beyond natural), body types, or real changes to make to the avatars that are given, so really all that’s left is to choose a gender or bland outfit. This was fairly uninspired. I’ve seen deeper character creation in Flash games. The graphics are clean and sharp enough, but painfully bland. Boogie has lost its one edge it had against the other music games on the market — its creativity. What’s left is a poor imitation of the Bratz dolls set on uninspired venues who just happen to be singing along to the songs you are and mimicking your movements.
After creating what is essentially a digitized Bratz doll, you’re drilled on different dance moves. Each dance move is performed with the Wii remote in time with a timing gauge. The gauge contains a small ball that bounces back and forth from right to left. A variety of dance moves can be performed, but none of them actually look like dance moves save for an arm roll, arm sway, and jumping. All of the dance "moves" actually seem like poorly contrived ideas to make the game feel more like you’re dancing. However, if the developers wanted to make dancing more realistic you’d think they would have packaged a CD and included instructions on how to actually, you know, dance. Performing the "dance moves" is horrific, as well. The Wii remote is unresponsive and the beat gauge is strange, rarely registering correctly and leading to a mediocre performance. What’s more, the gauge does not move in time to music and instead moves to its own speed, which looks awkward in terms of the song being performed. Because of this, the dancing portion is inane and too complicated to really enjoy. Honestly, flailing your arms around would have been a better substitute.
Thankfully, there is more to the game than dancing, but don’t get too excited. The karaoke aspect is just as bad, if not worse. Song selection ranges from, well, let’s be honest here — it doesn’t "range." All of the songs sound predictably the same even though they’re labeled as R&B, "electrodance", or pop. Seriously, they sound the same. For the sake of argument, though, tracks are yanked straight off of pop radio, and include titles such as "Glamorous" by Fergie, "Makes Me Wonder" by Maroon 5, "Potential Break-Up Song" from Aly and AJ, and strangely enough, "Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow" by Paula Abdul. It really doesn’t help that the song quality is embarrassingly bad. However, many of the songs contain questionable edits. For example, a Maroon 5 song contains the F-bomb. Instead of giving it a suitable replacement, the word is blanked out so you must pause awkwardly or make a strange noise with your throat in order to keep the beat.
I’m not sure why they thought this was a good idea. They could have even used songs that didn’t require censoring in the first place. This baffles me considering EA’s target audience. Much like with most of the tracks present in the game, singing requires no real skill. Since the game only judges on pitch, you can make any kind of sound as long it’s near pitch in order to score well. Unless you just feel the need to really belt it out, there’s no real incentive to sing a song well other than to receive reward packages.
There are only a handful of game modes to choose from. Unfortunately, there’s the notable exclusion of a full-fledged story or campaign mode. The only real options available allow you to play through three different incidents where you can sing or dance, while three judges give you a rating at the end. To avoid singing the same 12 songs over and over, playing this mode through multiple times is a must, as it is the only way you can unlock additional songs, clothing items, or venues. The only other game modes allow for you to sing or dance with friends. That’s it. You can also work on custom dance routines, but that gets considerably old after the first few attempts.
Boogie Superstar has no real merit as a karaoke or dance game, because it haphazardly attempts to mesh the two together in a "fun" and "kid-friendly" way. However, it fails miserably in doing so. For one thing, the content of some songs is nothing any parent would want their children listening to, and the songs aren’t good enough for many adults to want to pay attention to. There is little or no replay value since the only goals to aspire to are "how many songs can I unlock" or "what kind of new outfit can I get next?” If you want to sing along with some good songs, pick up a SingStar game. If you want to feel like you’re dancing, play Dance Dance Revolution. In the meantime, Boogie on down the road, far, far away from this game.