Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Electronic Arts
Release Date: Out Now
Whilst the Wii has had its fair share of games that are simply modified versions of those that have appeared on the other consoles, it's also had its fair share of unique games that have been designed from the ground up with the uniqueness of the Wii in mind. Boogie can definitely be regarded as being in the latter category and is a game that does its best to feel original. Of course you're probably thinking that Boogie isn't going to be deaf gamer friendly with the game relying on its musical content and coming complete with a microphone. You could even argue that the game was never meant to be played by deaf gamers (indeed it would be unfair to give this game a DGC rating, and we haven't) but the game isn't that difficult for deaf gamers to play.
Boogie allows you to dance and sing to a whole collection of songs. In addition you can also create your own video clips and apply effects to them. As mentioned above, the game comes with a USB microphone that plugs into one of the two USB ports on the rear of the console. The modes on offer are Story, Karaoke, Dance, Party, Video Maker and Practice. These modes are pretty self-explanatory but it’s worth mentioning that the Practice mode is essentially the tutorial mode and it's here that you'll have the basics of the game explained to you. Before you do anything though, you'll have to create a profile. To do this you'll select one of the game's five characters, give them a name and customise the clothing, accessories and hairstyle etc. You can't create your own character from scratch however. The character you choose and name is the character you'll see in every mode aside from the Story mode.
The Story mode allows you to pick one of the game's characters and play through a handful of challenges that require you to dance or sing. What you'll notice right away is that there's not much of a storyline here. In fact it's just a few lines of dialogue to move you from one challenge to the next. Most won't play through the Story mode for entertainment. In fact the only reason to play through the Story mode is to unlock an assortment of items with which you can customise your character. Of course you'll also earn tokens in this mode (and in other modes) that will allow you to purchase additional songs, outfits and stages.
Dancing and singing are your main activities in Boogie. Unlike most dance-based games, you won't need a lot of room in your lounge in order to dance. In fact, you don't even need to stand up; you can quite happily do the dance challenges whilst sitting down. Essentially you have to swing the Wii remote in time to the rhythm. The sound of metronome clicks are emitted through the Wii remote speaker and in addition there is an onscreen indicator so even though deaf gamers will be unaware of the metronome clicks, they will be able to see when the remote needs to be swung thanks to the indicator. Getting your timing right is important because it not only increases you score but also fills your Boogie Meter with Boogie Power. When the Boogie Meter is full you can hold down the B button to perform special dance moves. Whilst the nunchuk attachment isn't necessary as you can move around with the analogue stick or the directional pad on the remote, you'll probably want to use it as you can hold down the Z button to strike a pose. Here you'll tilt the nunchuk to select the targets that appear on the screen in order to make your character strike different poses. Whilst doing this you can also use the analogue stick to move the character's eyes and by pressing the C button you can also control their mouth.
During a dance you'll see various items that can be picked up. Some of these are multiplayer specific items (the game allows two players to compete simultaneously). There are items that can multiply the score you earn for 10 seconds, fill your Boogie Meter with Boogie Power and give you 5, 10 or 25 tokens to spend in the game's shop. Multiplayer specific pick up items include the Reversomatic, which inverts your opponents controls for a short duration and Freeze Burn with makes it impossible for your opponent to move for a while.
It's perfectly natural to think that having to sing in the microphone is an aspect of the game that's going to give deaf gamers problems. In normal circumstances it would do but that's not really the case in Boogie. In fact you don't have to sing at all. I successfully passed the singing challenges by blowing into the microphone. An arrow icon indicates if you're getting the pitch right whilst singing (or blowing etc.) so there's absolutely no need to hear what's going on in order to play the Karaoke events. The song lyrics are shown on screen but their worth is questionable if you're just blowing into the microphone.
In addition to the singing and dancing you can also create your own video clips of your character in the Video Maker mode. Essentially you have a choice of dancing, dance and singing or dance then sing. Once you've completed your dancing/singing and dancing you'll have the options of applying various video effects and adding text to the recording. The whole thing works fairly well, although it's nothing more than novelty value and you certainly won't bother with the Video Mode much once you've had a dabble a couple of times.
Boogie is actually a very good looking Wii game. Unlike so many of the Wii games we see, you can tell that the developers actually took time to play to the console's strengths. As you can see from the screenshots, the game has a unique almost 3D, cel-shaded look to it. The characters all look good and animate quite nicely as they are moving around the dance floor. The frame rate remains smooth throughout and the load times are actually quite impressive.
We've already mentioned various aspects of Boogie's suitability for deaf gamers and it's surprisingly not that bad. An on screen meter gives you a visual representation of the beat you need to keep, so it's not a problem that the sound of a metronome clicking is coming from the Wii remote speaker. An arrow icon indicator shows you if you're getting your pitch right during the karaoke sessions. You don't need to be able to hear or sing as you're shown on screen when you need to sing (or blow). The story dialogue is text only (with some gibberish speech thrown in) so you'll be able to follow exactly what's going on. In fact it's not bad at all for deaf gamers.
Despite mentioning that Boogie isn't that bad for deaf gamers, it's not a game that deaf gamers would go out and purchase. After all, where's the fun in blowing into a microphone? What we've illustrated in this review is that it's possible for deaf or hard of hearing gamers to be able to play the game with hearing relatives or friends. The game itself could have been a lot better. In all honesty there's not a lot of challenge here and it's quite feasible that most will tire of the single-player game after a few short hours. As a multiplayer game Boogie is a little more entertaining but even here it's not going to have much appeal. Boogie is by no means a bad game it's just there's not a lot here to keep most gamers interested for more than a few hours.
Boogie is a game that was squarely aimed at hearing gamers and it would be unfair to rate it's suitability for deaf gamers. However, it's by no means impossible for deaf gamers to play. The game isn't very challenging and should you decide to give it a go, you'll probably be done with it within a few hours with only the possibility of a multiplayer experience giving you a reason to return to the game.