Break down. Broke down.
For about three seconds there, Boogie had me really excited.
[image1]I was making a music video with Julius, a tall, blue-skinned Rastafarian alien, who was bobbing along to Kelis’ “Milkshake.” It was pretty routine until I held the Z button, and Julius snapped upright like a puppet. If I moved the Nunchuk, he would tilt around like a marionette. The analog stick suddenly made his eyes dart in every direction, and if I held down the C button, his regular expression of petrified terror would turn into a giant, wide-eyed, maniacal grin. In three seconds, the Wii turned me into an ecstatic puppeteer.
Sadly, beyond those brief moments of incidental comedy, EA’s Boogie disappoints on all counts. In Boogie, you either dance to pop hits using the Wiimote, or sing along using the $10 pack-in microphone. Lots of collectible costume pieces and an easy-to-use video editor round out the experience, but the weak voice and motion detection just aren’t good enough to build a game upon.
How about those show-stopping vocal performances? Boogie detects pitch but not phonics, so it’s cool if you don’t know every word to Britney Spears’ “Slave 4 U.” The game, however, barely even distinguishes pitch – any sort of guttural growl from the bottom of your stomach or high-pitched nasal shriek can hit the right volume to satisfy EA’s sensors. When a babbling toddler can give a perfect performance, the “game” part of the “karaoke game” is simply broken.
Like the singing, Boogie’s oversimplified dancing segments feel sluggish and unresponsive – to the point of futility. You have to snap the Wiimote in one of four directions on the beat, simply moving (like, you know, dancing) doesn’t count. You’ll feel like a blind person waving a stick around in search of solid ground, unless you shake the Wiimote precisely like a Samba de Amigo maraca. Until you have to enter Up in a sequential combo move, and you can’t seem to make Up work for the life of you – even the gimmicky Wii charm evaporates.
[image2]Despite the loose controls, Boogie is not impossible; in fact, it’s just the opposite: it’s so easy it’s no fun. On medium difficulty, you can do nothing for half a level, then jump in and score hundreds of thousands of points. Seriously, set the controller down! Read your book, talk amongst yourselves. Alternately, if you don’t mind reading dozens of charming but chatty text boxes, you can complete the five single-player storylines in under an hour each. But is it worth grinding through the game to win… new clothes? Nah.
It’s barely worth collecting all 40 or so songs, either; I’m all for games you can share with the family, but the magnetically repulsive forces of Britney Spears and Grease can overpower even the funky lures of Jamoroquai and Motown. Even without my boyish bias against bubblegum pop, the covers and singers play terribly bland renditions contrasting the colorful visuals. If players are going to collect anything, they will most likely want to unlock all the songs, but I feel like both the girly catalog and the repetitive dancing game will prevent many from playing the game to completion.
Boogie’s character animation steals most of the attention away from the different outfits, the deserted backgrounds, and even the music. Each character in this scant five-person troupe is fluid and full of character, from Leo’s chop-socky to Bubba’s JELLO jiggling. The animation is cute, but the small, motionless backgrounds of Boogie are unimpressive. Your little dancer guy is the only thing onscreenreacting to the musical experience, and boy does he look lonely up there.
[image3]So we return to the highlight of the game, as I make another attempt at directing our expressive friend Julius in the most awkward “Milkshake” video ever. It is an absolute riot to zoom in on his frantic little eyes and jerk the Nunchuk, which makes him turn, arms raised, like a monster just landed behind him. When he turns away, but I point his eyes back at the camera, and turn on his magically goofy grin, we are on the floor laughing the night away. My friends and I lament the fact we can’t share this video via memory card or the Internet, because it’s definitely worth a chuckle.
Strangely enough, Boogie works well on that extremely low level, EA has nailed the humor and charm with this musical cartoon. The actual game sucks if you’re expecting anything beyond a colorful puppet show.
Boogie is not a nuclear missile pointed at gamerdom; it is not a Barbie-pink chalk line that divides Johnny Shoot-Em-Up and his kid sister across the living room. EA’s all-singing, all-dancing karaoke game has opened, but the show itself is too empty once you get there.