| Boogie

Of all the painful humiliations that modern life has to offer, the ghastly spectacle of seeing an elderly relative with no sense of natural rhythm flail their limbs at a social gathering to the wholly unfamiliar accompaniment of The Pussycat Dolls must surely rank as one of the most acutely embarrassing.

When EA released Boogie on the Wii a few short months ago, the impact of this traumatic event was lessened slightly by the fact that the aforementioned 'bump and grind' could be safely confined to the secrecy of your living room, where fewer people might witness it.

However, the company has now gone one step further by releasing a DS version of the game that involves no dancing or bodily movement whatsoever (although it can't be promised that a small amount of toe-tapping won't creep in). All you need is a stylus and a half-decent sense of musical timing.

While the Wii version of Boogie was undeniably entertaining, the complex controls and poorly conceived gameplay stopped it from achieving the greatness it deserved. Thankfully, the process of scaling down the concept to fit the DS template has allowed EA to reassess the premise a little and as a result this portable edition of the franchise is a lot more entertaining.

Much of the core content remains and although the visuals have obviously taken quite a hit, things still look appealing. The main protagonists from the home console version make a reappearance here – in glorious 3D no less – and they retain all of the zany, off-the-wall charm they showcased so effectively on Wii. The character design really is first class, and when these loveable and goofy-looking avatars start to shake their money-makers in time to the music, you can't help but raise a smile.

Speaking of music, you'd expect the limitations of the DS cartridge format to put a dampener on the selection (and quality) of tracks here. Not so. There are 20 tunes present and although they're not the original recordings (as was the case with the Wii version) they're perfectly acceptable, showcasing surprisingly crisp vocals.

Gameplay, then, is based around a range of stylus gestures which cause your onscreen avatar to perform certain dance manoeuvres. Tapping the screen or dragging the stylus in a certain direction fills your boogie bar as long as you're in time with the beat. When this is at maximum, expect to perform dance routines that even John Travolta would be impressed by. You can also use the D-pad to move your dancer around the stage and resort to the fascia buttons to control other peripheral moves, like spins and turns.

There are three main game types to indulge in. Copycat is exactly what you might expect it to be: you're shown a combination of moves and must replicate the sequence. Freestyle is also pretty self-explanatory, and it's in this mode that you'll most likely get to grips with the controls. The final option, Choreography, is more akin to the traditional rhythm-action titles of old in that you have to tap in time with a series of onscreen commands in order to succeed.

To break up the flow EA has also included a variety of mini-games. These range from the moderately enjoyable to the pointlessly simple, and too many of the games share similar interfaces – for example, Clap Your Hands, Jingle Jingle and Tap Your Toes are all essentially the same game albeit with different graphics. However, they're not intended to take up too much of your time and serve as a welcome respite from the sweaty stylus exertions of the main event.

The final element to be offered is multiplayer. Getting other people involved was arguably the one saving grace of the Wii version, and it's good to see that EA has given Boogie on DS a robust set of multiplayer options. You can play against a friend even if they lack a copy of the game, although the far more social four-player feature requires each person to own their own Boogie cartridge.

One aspect of the game that really surprised us was the 3D mode. Inside the box you'll find a pair of 3D glasses, and before each song you're given the option to enable the 3D mode. It's a neat little addition and is fairly impressive initially, but it's unlikely you're going to carry about a pair of cheap cardboard spectacles around with you and even less likely that you're going to wear them when out in public. Still, full marks for effort, EA.

It's somewhat ironic that having taken the over-ambitious Wii original and pared it down for the DS, EA has succeeded in making a far more agreeable and focused game. You'll find no confusing controls or pointless karaoke features here and in their place is a much more intuitive and rewarding experience. It's not in the same league as Elite Beat Agents and Ouendan 2, but Boogie is nevertheless great fun and should appeal to disco fanatics of all ages.


Comfortably defying expectations, Boogie proves to be wonderfully infectious dance floor fun
Damien  McFerran
Damien McFerran
Damien's mum hoped he would grow out of playing silly video games and gain respectable employment. Perhaps become a teacher or a scientist, that kind of thing. Needless to say she now weeps openly whenever anyone asks how her son's getting on these days.