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Platform(s): Nintendo DS, PlayStation 2, Wii
Genre: Rhythm
Publisher: EA


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PS2 Review - 'Boogie'

by Matt Olsen on April 8, 2008 @ 12:02 a.m. PDT

Boogie will have gamers dancing, singing and starring in their own music videos. Players can also choose and customize different characters in the game to best show off their dancing style and karaoke skills. With innovative gameplay that perfectly matches the unique Wii controls, Boogie is the ultimate videogame party package.

Genre: Rhythm/Music
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Pipeworks Software
Release Date: November 12, 2007

If there's one thing I love about rhythm games, it's the fact they make you look like a complete dork whileyou're playing them. From jumping up and down on a dance mat in Dance Dance Revolution to pounding on the bongos until your asthma catches up with you in Donkey Konga, rhythm games are sights to see. Most of these games feature techno or rock music, but very few offer oldies and disco music. I don't listen to much music, but these are songs that I'm familiar with, and now I have the chance to sing and dance with a joypad in EA's Boogie.

When you first start up the game, you'll be prompted to create a character based on the five main models. Here you can make simple adjustments such as clothing, color, hair style and other things. I thought the large, orange creature on the box resembled Earl from Toejam & Earl, so I used the limited options to make a character that somewhat resembled the funky alien and named him Earl. I was then taken to a tutorial session to learn how to dance and sing, which are the two primary aspects of the game.

Dancing is both the easier and more repetitive part of Boogie. A meter on the right shows five ascending bars, and a blue light will travel up it to match the beat. You must dance whenever the light hits the top of the meter to stay with the beat, thus earning points. In order to dance, you must simultaneously press the left analog stick in any of the four directions in combination with the Circle, X, or Square buttons. It's a little tricky at first, but you'll get better with practice.

In order to maximize your score, you must perform different combinations of the dance moves; using the same dance move consecutively will gradually give you fewer points. You can also earn extra points by moving around the nine parts of the stage by moving the right analog stick in any direction. Alien creatures will also appear on-stage, and if you move to where they are, they'll drop power-ups, including score multipliers, tokens for purchasing things at the shop, and boogie boosts. Boogie boosts automatically fill up your boogie meter, which can otherwise be filled up by performing several unique moves. As it fills up, you can perform one of two combo moves, depending on whether you hold down on the L1 or R1 button.

Pressing L1 brings up a set of arrows on the bottom of the screen. You must move both analog sticks in the indicated direction while staying in sync with the rhythm. Successfully doing so will earn you a large amount of points, but performing the combo drains your boogie meter. Pressing R1 allows your character to strike a pose. In order to do so, you must move the analog sticks together to guide a small cursor to on-screen targets. At first, hitting a target will earn you a small amount of points, but each succeeding target exponentially adds to its previous point value so that 1,000 becomes 3,000, which becomes 6,000, etc. — almost like earning enough experience points to level in Dungeons & Dragons.

During this part, you can also hold down either the L2 or R2 buttons to control the character's mouth and eyes, respectively, during the pose. In general, combos will likely earn most of the points for you in a song. There are brief moments during the dancing segments where your character will have a vocal solo. When this happens, you don't use the included USB microphone. Instead, you'll press and hold down on the L2 button at the beginning of each pitch bar to earn points. It helps break the monotony of the dancing, but it seems a little pointless.

Singing plays a bigger role in the actual Karaoke mode. It's the more difficult part of Boogie if you're not the most blessed singer. I'm not much of a singer, as shown by people hating my "singing" in games such as Karaoke Revolution and Rock Band. Unlike those two, however, Boogie is much more forgiving in that you cannot fail a song or get booed off the stage. Despite that, it still uses the same mechanics for singing, where you must match your pitch with that of the lyrics. From my experience, it seems as if the pitch arrow is automatically at the right pitch, and you just have to make noise for it to work, but somehow you can still manage to screw up the song and miss some points. There are no power-ups or combos in singing, so it's just you and your voice.

Once you think you've gotten the hang of dancing and singing, you can play through Boogie's story mode. There are five playable characters: Julius, a blue alien pop star who feels burnt out and is about to retire from his superstar career; Jet, a pop superstar on Earth who gets the opportunity to play at an intergalactic venue; Lea, a fledgling pop star who meets Jet at the intergalactic concert despite Jet showing no interest in her talent; Kato, a feline karate master who seeks out her missing grandfather; and Bubba, who's a gas station worker and a student at Kato's dojo. All five stories involve the pop stars coming across a group of alien creatures that promise to make each of their dreams come true. This is all told in fairly bland dialogue cut scenes that occur between levels. Each character has five levels that include either dancing to a song or singing a song. There's not much satisfaction from completing the story mode, aside from a few unlockables.

Speaking of the bland dialogue segments, there's absolutely no voice acting used during these parts. Instead, there are random sound effects, such growls and record scratches used for the character's speech. The only voice acting used in the game is in the tutorial section, where a narrator tells you how to play the game, and in the video maker mode, when you need help editing your video. The video maker mode allows you to record your best singing or dancing song and add special effects to it, essentially creating a music video to show off to your friends. Since the videos you make are only saved to your PS2 memory card, there's no legitimate way to upload them online, which could have been nice.

Boogie offers a library of classic disco and pop songs, and even a few songs from the Britney Spears era. The selection of songs includes classics such as, "You're the One that I Want" and "Everybody was Kung-Fu Fighting," to which I admit to unconsciously dancing when singing this one. Other songs include "Brickhouse," "Mamba No. 5" and "Milkshakes." This may make me look like a total pansy, but I actually enjoy singing "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." In general, the songs do their respective labels justice and sound great. The sound effects, on the other hand, could have been better.

Boogie generally felt very easy and geared toward younger and casual gamers, as evidenced in the game visuals, which utilize the cartoon-like cel-shading art style. For what the game is trying to be — a cartoon dance party in space — it does it well. The animations for the dancers are pretty good, although most of the time, you'll be paying more attention to the rhythm meter and combo actions than the actual dancers. Unless you're still living in the 1970s, I wouldn't recommend imitating the dance moves from the game.

All in all, Boogie is a fun, albeit easy, rhythm game. If Dance Dance Revolution or Guitar Hero intimidate you, then Boogie should be an adequate substitution. The selection of songs may even appeal to parents who used to boogie to the tunes. If you're a hardcore gamer who's already mastered expert on Guitar Hero or heavy on DDR, then you want to pass on this game.

Score: 6.5/10

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