What do you get when you cross the Nintendo’s Wii unique motion sensing controls with successful music and rhythm games like “Dance Dance Revolution,” “Guitar Hero,” and “SingStar?” Unfortunately, the answer is “Boogie,” a disappointing entry from Electronic Arts that manages to miss the point of what makes a good music game and a good dancing game.
With “Boogie,” groove is in the wrist. The gameplay is almost entirely about flicking the Wii-mote from side to side in time with the beat in order to create various dance moves for an onscreen cartoon character. But whereas the better music games are about what the player is doing – rocking out on a guitar, moving feet on a dance pad, or singing one’s heart out – “Boogie” is about what the onscreen character is doing. The player’s participation is limited to wrist-flicking, which is as about as catchy as snapping one’s fingers.
There are attempts to add a little variety with ill-conceived lip syncing interludes, combo moves, and a “strike-a-pose” mode. But the whole exercise ultimately feels weird and forced. There are no patterns to learn and nothing to really make some songs harder than others. Unlike “Guitar Hero” and “Dance Dance Revolution,” there’s no sense of having to learn something or practice. Instead, each song is reduced to a simple rhythm. Getting gold stars on the hardest difficulty level will be a trivial matter for anyone who can keep a beat.
There is also karaoke singing, but it doesn’t have any connection to the dancing. It’s as if someone at Electronic Arts realized that wrist flicking alone wasn’t going to be enough, so they threw in a USB microphone and some superfluous gameplay to go along with it.
After any dance or karaoke, “Boogie” can replay a performance through a rudimentary video editing application. Players can change the camera angle, superimpose words on the screen, or apply a funky visual filter. Then they can save the whole shebang to re-watch the customized cartoon avatar while he, she, or it boogies. Younger gamers might enjoy this feature. Adults would only use it to relive their worst karaoke performances.
At least “Boogie” has a solid song list. There’s a good variety of old classics and new pop, from the Village People to Britney Spears. Somewhere along the spectrum, from “Love Shack” to “Karma Chameleon” to “Mambo No. 5” to “Don’t Cha,” there’s something for everyone. But ultimately, “Boogie” is a song list in search of a game.