Getting into the groove as we're hands on with Boogie DS
EA wants to get the party started… in 'real' 3D
As much fun as it is, dancing can certainly be hard work. Between moving your body to the beat, maintaining your good looks and catching the eye of that special lady (or gent), a lot of sweat goes into something that's intended to look effortless.
Still, leave it to EA to strip away the pain and get us down to the fun stuff. Ditching dance shoes for a stylish, er, stylus, Boogie had us impressed following our hands-on at Electronic Arts' recent Studio Showcase event.
While not exactly a dancing simulation, Boogie does boast three modes that keep the beat going: Dance Now, Career, and wireless multiplayer.
Dance Now enables you to select a suitable funky character, venue, and song for a quick dance-off. Similarly, multiplayer rounds make it possible to do the same, with up to three friends. Both multi- and single-card play are supported – however, there will be limits to what content is available in single-card play when the game ships.
You have a choice of five characters, each customisable with clothing and accessories bought from an in-game boutique. Unique to the Nintendo DS version of Boogie is the ability to draw decals for your disco king's shirt. Using the stylus as a pen, it was easy to craft a Pocket Gamer-branded halter top for our dancer to wear. We doubt it will ever catch on down the Ministry of Sound, though.
Nearly 30 tracks are planned for the final game – we're assuming the tracklisting will follow the Wii version, with floor-fillas such as 'That's The Way (I Like It)', 'Kung Fu Fighting' and 'Love Shack' – along with a dozen different venues.
Unlocking these is carried out via Career mode, which puts you through a series of dancing stages loosely held together by a 'story'. You start off with only one venue and song. Complete this and you open up new ones, as well as gain the ability to attract dance hall followers. Depending on how well you cut a rug, you'll build an entourage.
Of course, getting to the top of the dance circuit requires knowing how to dance. A tutorial gets you acquainted with the basics before you jump into the main game, although it's easy enough that you could start in right away without a primer. Dancing is done with taps and swipes of the stylus, so all you have to do is mimic icons displayed on the touchscreen to execute a dance move. For instance, a left arrow translates to a horizontal swipe with the stylus. Whenever a dot appears, tapping the screen makes your character jump.
Along with basic steps, mini-games frequently pop up that require specific moves. One such event, for example, had us rushing to keep our character in a spotlight that moved quickly about the dance floor. Another made us tap on the touchscreen to hit a tambourine to the beat of the music. We even tried lip-syncing. As notes streamed across the bottom of the touch screen, we opened our character's mouth using a slider. Whenever a break in the notes came along, we closed his mouth by moving the slider down. Somewhat bizarre, but entertaining nonetheless.
And interestingly, you can do all of this while wearing a pair of red and blue 3D glasses. We're not so sure Boogie needs the added stimulus of pseudo-3D imagery, but it could be a hit with the younger crowd.
On its own, however, Boogie is shaping up to be a surprisingly enjoyable game. We'll see if it packs any long-term toe-tapping punch when it's released, just in time for in the Christmas party season, on November 2nd.