Boogie Superstar
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2008-12-04 Wii Music/Rhythm E10 (Everyone 10+) EA

Dancing and karaoke are two things that seem to attract anyone to the world of gaming. Boogie Superstar mixes in both elements under a single title for the Wii, but does it do it successfully?

A while back, I was contacted by a Reuters journalist asking my opinion about a statement made by Robert Nashak on a press release: "Boogie SuperStar promotes self-expression, creativity and empowerment for girls worldwide. We have created a game where girls don't just observe someone else's rise to fame, they experience it themselves, singing and dancing their way through a world most girls only dream about."

This whole "empowerment" thing was what had us going back and forth in emails. Since self-empowerment mainly relates to taking control of your own actions and of your own life, I don't think anything using pop-stars with "issues" that revolve around scandals can create any kind of positive empowerment.

And this is exactly why I was reluctant to play Boogie Superstar. If you actually sit and watch the intro, you see a very different art style from the first Boogie title. Characters are invited to a special event, which is basically American Idol (stage, judges and all) with everyone speaking a Simlish-like language.

Russell Arons, Vice President of Marketing of EA Casual Entertainment had stated at the time of the game's release that one of the elements included was "total character customization", but as soon as you hop into the game you can see that is not the case. You are only given a choice of six pre-made characters, four female and two male who, by the way, look all very similar to each other. And then you can customize said character with very limited options, since the only things you have control over are the hair style/color and clothes. So much for trying to make a virtual Boogie me...

Your task in this virtual gameshow is to go through a series of challenges, either singing or dancing, and perform better than the other three contestants. The challenges let you pick the song you want to sing or dance to as well as a stage, or you can just randomize it. I have to say that out of the entire line-up of nearly 40 songs, I knew an amazing four. Granted, I am not part of the target age group, so you definitely won't catch me listening to Britney Spears or any of these current so called pop-stars. Four songs, and none of them were even unlocked. I was in for some hard work...

Unlocking more songs is done through game progression, which turns out to be very repetitive since you will have to earn enough points to unlock the rest. It will take you about three rounds (if you're scoring first place) to unlock the next pair of songs, so by the time you get half of the tracks unlock you will be tired of listening to them.

To make things worse, these aren't even the original songs, but "as made famous by", words which we so well know from Guitar Hero. The covers are pretty bad, and while at first I recognized Rihanna's Please Don't Stop The Music while browsing the menus, shortly after I just wanted the music to stop. And when I finally got to the two Cascada songs I love, I was extremely disappointed.

Boogie Superstar is both a karaoke and dancing game. As for the actual game mechanics, let's just say the karaoke portion will probably make you angry, since it actually managed to poke through my usual barrier of unlimited patience.

For the most part, scoring isn't too forgiving, since the system registers pitch and accuracy. It also awards you points for each word as well as every phrase that you sing correctly and fully. The odd part is, some songs have censored bits, which means there are blanks in the lyrics. However, there's still a pitch bar where the word would have been, which means you have to sing something in there or it will break the combo.

I can understand the censorship of a mild swear word in a game aimed at young girls, after all, the game is rated E10+. But when there are drinking and sex references in other lyrics, it seems rather redundant not to just leave it as they are and rate it T.

And you can also make the karaoke challenges more... challenging by playing Vicky's Pranks, which works a bit like Guitar Hero duels. Vicky will use pranks to make your lyrics go blurry, make your notes invisible, mute the music, change your pitch, distort the song or make your voice echo. A two-player pass-the-mic karaoke mode is also available, with cooperation being the goal. No microphone hogging allowed here. The pranks "duel" would have been more interesting to have as a two-player option instead.

The other and better portion of Boogie Superstar is the dancing, and even though it isn't perfect, I had a lot of fun with it. I was actually afraid it would use both controllers and eventually end up like All Star Cheer Squad, with not enough room to do the moves because of the connecting cord, but fortunately it only uses the Wii-Mote to register movements.

The basics of dancing are to do simple two-beat movements while following the rhythm indicated on the screen by your trainer. There are two small circles, with a ball jumping from one to the other, which indicates the rhythm. You do the motion indicated in between and adjust your speed as needed: if arrows pointing up appear, you need to speed up; arrows pointing down means you're going too fast. If the ball is green, keep it up, you're doing great. If it turns red, then you must be doing the wrong motion.

Obviously, to understand all the moves you should go through the Star Training and learn them first. As you progress through the game, you unlock more moves, and eventually a few of them won't register so well. Swinging and criss-crossing are two of the first ones you learn, and the game registers them fine. Later on, moves like the pump and the wheel don't seem to work so well.

Dancing is much more enjoyable when playing with friends, and I assume this would have been the main goal of the game, but you earn even less points in multiplayer than when playing solo.

While I've already pointed out the faults, there is still something that doesn't make sense to me. Some of the songs are classified as dance only and won't have a karaoke option at all. Seeing as this is a singing and dancing game, why not open up all songs to both activities?

Ultimately, Boogie Superstar is passable on the dancing but falls short on the karaoke. While the number of tracks available isn't bad, the quality of the covers is atrocious, unlocking new songs is a very repetitive process and the karaoke scoring is unforgiving. This is definitely not the party game I expected it to be, and while I still had fun dancing (while my cats gave me all kinds of funny looks), Boogie still has a long way to go to become a Superstar.

Special thanks to Kate Carrico and EA for providing a copy of this title.