Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Montreal
Release Date: October 14, 2008
When EA's first Wii-centric music title came out, Boogie failed to make much of a splash with the critics, but the general audience liked it well enough. Boogie was a dance karaoke game full of style but lacking any significant substance, and it gave way to a design that was maybe a bit too in tune with its intended casual gaming audience. Dancing around your living room with a mic in hand might be fun, but without any significant challenge or spot-on movement recognition for the dancing portion of the game, the whole package fell a little short of my expectations.
Sadly, it appears that the sequel, Boogie SuperStar, still suffers from the same voice and movement recognition issues that I had with the original, and while some changes have been made, the majority of them feel pretty superficial in the long run. Combine that with a somewhat-tired formula that apes the American Idol experience and a frustrating unlocking sequence to give you access to all of the songs, and the entire game feels like it's pretty much on par with the original, and not in a good way.
Just like the first Boogie title, SuperStar comes bundled with a USB mic (I have so many of these at home now) that's about the same design and quality as the mic included with the first game. Also, just like the original, the attention of SuperStar is divided between karaoke and dancing segments, featuring over 30 different pop songs from various years that you can either sing or dance to. The selection here is about as varied as you might expect, and there are definitely choices that are going to appeal to everyone, regardless of age or sex. While this title definitely seems to be geared toward adolescent females, the developers have still kept in mind that this is primarily a family-focused title, so songs will be edited for content (sometimes with surprising substitutions), and all in all, it's something you could easily play around the grandparents or whoever might be easily offended within your household.
But would you really want to? After spending some time with both the single-player and multiplayer aspects of SuperStar —there's not a lot of variation between them — I can honestly say that you wouldn't. These dance and karaoke genres have seen far better releases in recent years than anything Boogie can provide, and while Boogie SuperStar is fairly unique in that it's a dancing and singing game, it doesn't really matter when the final product feels like the leftover pieces of games that manage to focus on just one of the genres.
For instance, the karaoke portion of the songs follows the formula we've all grown used to by this point, where you sing along with the on-screen words and are judged according to pitch and how often you actually hit the correct words. Boogie SuperStar rates both the individual words and entire sentence or lyric as well, so sometimes you'll hit every word but be off-pitch, yet score well on the entire sentence because you hit every word. That seems a bit off, but combine that with a song where there's a missing word due to "mature" content, and it will really throw you off, because the game still wants you to sing a word there, even if it doesn't actually give you one to sing.
The dancing segment, likewise, is a bit of a mess. Once again, you'll be following on-screen movements with the Wiimote or mic, and your goal is to imitate the movements. As it begins, the movements are pretty simple, and shortly thereafter, they start to get a little more complex, which would be fine if the game would pick up the correct movements from the player. More often than not, I'd be performing one move only to have it register as something completely different, and in the end, I found the dancing segments to be frustrating not because of the difficulty, but because SuperStar simply wouldn't interpret my actions correctly.
Finally, the way you unlock all the songs is far more of a chore than it is with other games in the music genre. Instead of simply playing through a set of songs and unlocking the next set, the game is based on points and levels. Finishing a song will net you a certain amount of points based on your performance, and from there, you start to level up. You won't unlock new songs until you reach the next level, so you're stuck singing or performing the same songs over and over again to get the required number of points. This requires far too much repetition early on, and by the time you reach the final group of songs, you've already grown tired of the set list.
The presentation in SuperStar takes on a slightly different flair than in the previous game. Gone are the really wacky-looking characters, this time replaced by avatar-like creations that are designed to be player-made, but the options are pretty lacking. I preferred the goofier aspects of Boogie's art to the more standard look that the sequel is taking on, and I hope that the developers decide to take a second look at that when they go back to the drawing board (assuming there will be a third title). It doesn't help matters that the music is all cover work of popular artists, especially when said covers aren't particularly the best. There's a low-quality sound to most of the tracks, as if they're being reproduced with single instruments and lots of synth noise, and it doesn't quite mesh together.
Graphically, it's pretty much on par with the original Boogie, and it's not a bad-looking Wii game by any stretch of the imagination. Likewise, the soundtrack is pretty decent, even if it is all cover tunes. I'd be happy to see EA spring for the cash on master tracks, but I realize this isn't quite a triple-A property for them, so I don't think we'll see that anytime soon.
I think Boogie SuperStar would have been better served by trying to figure out what type of music-based game it really, really wanted to be. The mix of singing and dancing is obviously a pretty natural connection, but if it's taking away from making at least one of those components excellent, then the whole thing just goes awry. Like I said previously, you'd be better off with one of the DanceDance Konami titles, Karaoke Revolution, or even one of the Rock Band/Guitar Hero games for your dancing or singing fixes. For now, Boogie SuperStar is still behind the curve and definitely not worth checking out.
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