Game intros became important to me after I bought NHL â€™99, and saw the opening video slung together along with Bowieâ€™s Heroes. The first time I saw that video draw to a close and the game menu appear, my friend and I turned to each other and more or less in unison said, â€śCool!â€ť (The game was cool; we, on the other hand, were not)
Boogie Superstar has something of that introductory magic in its lead in on the Wii, with a jumpy collection of clips showing the coming together of contestants on an Idol-style game show that will call for them to dance and sing their way to fame and fortune. A custom-painted plane whisks them off to a secret island, half boogie-boot-camp and half studio, where theyâ€™ll compete against one another under the scrutiny of three judges.
Taking your character in hand, the first thing youâ€™ll need to do is pick his or her skin colour, hair style and outfit â€“ naturally, the selection is slim first off, but not to worry, youâ€™ll be unlocking short skirts and sparkly boots in no time. And, of course, you need to brave the ubiquitous tutorial: skipping it is not advised. In the training room, youâ€™ll learn the rules for grooving. Before you can get down to serious popping business, you have to cut your chops on arm-rolling, finger pointing and hip shaking.
Oh, oh, but this isnâ€™t just a dancing game. DDR is all over that, already, and has been for some time. In Boogie Superstar, you also need to be ready for a healthy chunk of singing. So is this just Singstar plus Dance Dance Revolution then? Almost. But not quite.
The problem facing Boogie Superstar is that the gauntlet has already been laid down for in-home karaoke, so the addition of a dance component seems at first like a weak tack on. But don't be fooled. The game has a sleek interface and intuitive controls (thatâ€™s the Wii all over, right?) and while itâ€™s not as good a dancing game as DDR or as good a karaoke game as Singstar, it happens to have the guts of both.
I brought the game to a helpful party who was willing to throw herself into it 100%, which, even alone, I probably couldnâ€™t have brought myself to do. Me, dance? No fear. Sing? Iâ€™d sooner sleep with the fishes. And believe me, if you had to listen, you would do. Singing and dancing with muchos aplomb, my friend (and later, additional friends drawn like moths to a flame) has shown me a game thatâ€™s taken tried and true parts and built a very unique whole.
The game allows you to patch your show together from three challenges, as you compete against AI or your mates, depending on how many Wii Remotes and mics you can get your hands on. Dancing and singing in troupes, you can basically invent your show from the ground up, picking exotic locations (with startling background effects), the songs to be sung and danced to, and have the judging panel score your performance.
Complete with Simon Cowell-type tall-poppy-devastator Vickie, the judges score you on everything from timing to your ability to catch the screen-directed combos (jump and clap at first, spin and rock later on) and allot you points which you cash in for new songs and other unlockable content. In the reward packages you'll usually find a combo of goodies, and the more points you use to collect them, the more bumper the crop.
The interface is fantastic, with a dynamic interplay between push button functionality and the smooth traction weâ€™ve all come to expect when dragging icons across the screen and flinging about with gay abandon as the Wii commands. Iâ€™m not the first to say it, and the pundits have it right: the Wii is a system dedicated to fun, with realism one of those annoying must-haves where a game must have it. Boogie Superstar, like so many other titles, is pure fantasy.
Re-playability is packed in. The ability to customize fully, almost every aspect of your all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza, will keep you and your buddies coming back over and over. Even watching one player up there grinding out the moves all alone, it took no vision to imagine a group with beers in one hand, Remotes or mics in the other, whiling away a whole night, or a whole weekend.
The box, advertising a Natasha Bedingfield poster, hadnâ€™t filled me with the best of expectations, but I am, I must say, very impressed. Everything just fits together here, and Iâ€™ve only a few complaints. One is that you end up forcing yourself to get to grips with the stifling inanity of pop songs. Who the hell writes these lyrics? Another is that the karaoke component is missingâ€¦ something. The dancing section of the game is pretty well wrought, even if the Balance Board was cut from the equation some time ago, but when you get to the singing you canâ€™t help feel a little like this is (sort of) Singstarâ€™s annoying little brother. And call me old fashioned, but everything about Boogie Superstar is aimed at capturing that young , female, Christmas-is-only-two-months-away market, and Iâ€™m not so sure parents ought to be letting their little girls gyrate quite like this.