IGN Review of Boogie Superstar
Dance games and karaoke games are two genres becoming increasingly popular on the Nintendo Wii (and all consoles). I've seen more games with microphones in the past year than I have in the previous three years. This holiday season sees at least four games that lets players belt their hearts out, and first among them is EA's Boogie SuperStar. It's the sequel to last year's Boogie, and wonderfully showcases what happens when a developer focuses on improving one element of their game, while messing up the other part.
Last year's Boogie was a complete style over substance game. So what is the first thing to get the ax with the new Boogie? The characters and art style. Brilliant. Instead of having wacky characters, cool costumes and exciting locales, we get a fake American Idol premise and some mildly customizable pre teens to play as. I don't mind getting to create myself to play as, but the character creation is so limited that it's hard to make two characters that look significantly different, much less create myself.
Boogie SuperStar features singing and dancing gameplay, but I'll start with singing because I'm a pretty big karaoke game fan, making it a regular point to embarrass myself with any and every singing game I can get my hands on.
With that in mind, believe me when I say that Boogie SuperStar is a terrible karaoke game. It completely misses the point of what makes karaoke games enjoyable.
The 38 pop songs are re-recorded as horrible covers. It's not just the singing that's bad, the actual instruments are wrong. It sounds like every song was redone using a Casio keyboard instead of instruments. Where there should be hard guitar riffs there are only bleeps and bloops.
Additionally the songs are oddly censored. I don't mind when a game takes out swear words from a song, especially if it's supposed to be a family friendly game. What I do mind is when the song still has the pitch bar where the swear words are. So when I'm playing "Makes me Wonder" by Maroon 5 the song edits out the word shit, but guess what, there's still a pitch bar where that word should be. So I lose my combo if I don't sing something there.
Also maybe I'm just weird here, but I personally don't have a problem with minor alcoholic references in songs. Pina coladas (Take you There) and champagne (Glamorous) are hardly the same as cuss words. However, I would have a problem with my daughter singing a song about having sex, thinly veiled with car metaphors (Shut up and Drive). I'm not complaining about censorship in general, I just think it should be consistent.
The scoring system is rather unforgiving in this game, scoring you for every word in addition to entire lines. It's possible to lose your superstar mode mid-line by stumbling over some words, even if you end the line with an "awesome" rating.
The other half of Boogie SuperStar is a dance game, that is not only the title's better half, but is a marked improvement over last year. Instead of the innovative, but confusing freestyle mode, players use the Wii remote to follow simple two-beat motions.
At first the system works well, and I was getting my groove on using the first set of moves. As more moves are unlocked, some of the newer the motions don't work very well. It's the problem with nearly every Wii rhythm game, and Boogie SuperStar is no different. I could crisscross no problem. Swinging side to side was a breeze. But pumping up and down like I was operating a bicycle pump proved to be my downfall.
The biggest downfall for Boogie SuperStar is the drawn out process of unlocking songs. At the beginning only about a dozen songs are unlocked, and players have to earn points to unlock new ones. Each of the three genres has five levels of progression and each new level unlocks two more songs. It takes about three rounds (more if you're not scoring outstandingly) to unlock a new level for one of the genre's. By the time half the songs are unlocked, you're so sick of the ones you've played that the boredom outweighs the motivation.
Oddly enough, playing in multiplayer mode, which is far more enjoyable, actually earns you fewer points than playing single player. So if you wanted to enjoy this game with friends, which is how it's clearly designed to be played, you'll all have to play the same songs over and over. Since points are locked to accounts, you can't unlock levels as a group only individually.
There are a lot of other weird gameplay choices that make SuperStar needlessly frustrating. Some of the songs are dance-only (why choose songs you can't sing if you want that to be half of the game?). Players have to play on the level they've unlocked or face a penalty, but getting to that level doesn't mean you're that level of skill at all.
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