All Star Cheer SquadESRB:
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Wii-Remote and Nunchuk Compatible
Balance Board Compatible
Me and cheerleading go to together like oil and water, they just don't mix, So needless to say when I was given the opportunity to review All Star Cheer Squad from THQ I was quite hesitant to take it through its' paces. But as I soon learned, a book should not be judged by its book cover and in this case a game by its game cover. Although the game is definitely not for me, it isn't that bad of a title and some people may really enjoy what the title has to offer.
I would have thought that a game like All Star Cheer Squad would have gone with a cartoony type look, but it is evident from what is offered on-screen that they have tried to lean a little more on the realistic side. Overall the visuals are pretty simple, from the character models to each stage that you perform on, but they get the job done. There is some good use of lighting as I noticed the shadows that your character formed on the floor beneath them. These seem to reflect exactly what move your on-screen character is doing. Why do I mention this you ask, well it is because I did not expect small details like this to be prevalent during the gameplay. Technically speaking the game runs to run in 480p widescreen and there were no graphic hic-ups that distracted from the gameplay experience. This being said, most will not even pay attention to the on-screen characters, background or action, as most of the focus is on the meter at the bottom of the screen which displays what moves you have to make.
What can one say about the sound in a game that is based on Cheerleading? Not a heck of a lot. The music is the focus here as it is a game that requires it. If you have seen any cheerleading movies like Bring it On (editor’s note: can’t say I have) then you should know what you will have to listen too. As this game is not destined for my ‘must play’ pile, the music really didn’t do a lot for me, but that being said those that want to “lead the cheer” in their own living room should have no problems as the melodies that have been generated for you to cheer to as they are more then appropriate and manage to match speed when the game throws more and more moves at you.
All Star Cheer Squad takes you through the live of an aspiring cheerleader. When you first start the game you will find yourself creating your in-game persona. You can choose such things as your sex, face type, eye shape, hair style and even your clothing and make-up, the latter being for female characters of course. Of course you get to choose your name as well, so make sure you make it something very snobbish as stereotyping of cheerleaders is such that people think that they are from well to do families and have some ‘hidey-tidy’ names.
After you set-forth and make your characte, you are then taken through a tryout for the cheerleading squad. This first part of the game is essentially a tutorial of sorts as it allows you to get accustomed to the game's control scheme and how to cheer away. You will find that there are actually a lot of moves for you to master and that some of them do take a bit of hand-eye coordination. You will perform many moves using the Wii-Remote and Nunchuk, including any mix of one or both controllers in a forward, backwards, angled, or sideways tilt. To add even a bit more of a challenge you will also need to hold A, B, C, or Z in order at various times. Of course this tutorial section is useful because if you don't know how to pull of the moves, you definitely aren't going to be a successful cheerleader.
The best way to explain the overall gameplay experience is to equate it to many of the other rhythm/dance based games out on the market. I found that is was somewhat similar to the DDR games that have been released for the Wii as they are not only dance based, but they use the Wii-Remote and Nunchuk as well.
When using the Wii-Remote and Nunchuk alone All Star Cheer Squad displays an on-screen meter with the various movements you are supposed mimic. These movement indicators scroll along to the game's music and are represented by V shapes, L shapes, claps and a whole bunch of other shapes and signs that you have to basically memorize. There is a guide that is visible on the top left of the screen that displays the proper way to do things should you need to refer to it. As mentioned earlier on, to pull off these moves successfully you will use the Wii-Remote and Nunchuk in a variety of combinations. You will find that a majority of the moves are somewhat easy to learn, but where the game gets a bit more challenging is that more and more movements are thrown at you and you can get a bit confused as they all seem to meld into one making all of the upcoming moves somewhat hard to keep track of. I found more then a few occasions that I just couldn't keep track of everything and I was flailing around madly. It is obvious that this game requires one's full attention.
All Star Cheer Squad also makes use of Nintendo's balance board. Should you be one of the lucky ones to have found a copy of Wii Fit, and you wish use the board when playing All Star Cheer Squad, you will notice a new icon underneath the hand movement bar. This adds new movements that are done in conjunction with the hand gestures and they will require you to do such tings as step on and off, stand on one foot, or even place more pressure on one particular section of the balance board. This aspect makes the game even more challenging, but not in a bad way. For those without the balance board, do not fret as you don't need the board to play, it is just that the balance board adds more to the whole cheerleading experience.
There are also cooperative and competitive multiplayer modes, but I have to be honest and let you know that I did not get the chance to try them. Why you ask? Well, no one else would play the game with me. Maybe it was the fact that they thought I would knock them over when playing with them (I am not the most coordinated person to do cheerleading moves) or maybe they just enjoyed watching me flail about recklessly. Regardless, I do give props to the development team for including multiplayer modes as who wants to have to cheer all by themselves all the time. If any other GameBoyz staffer cares to try the multiplayer with me I will definitely let you all know how it went.
Overall I didn't mind what All Star Cheer Squad had to offer. There is no doubt that the game is not for me, but I can see many of Nintendo's younger audience out there really enjoying it. In terms of the physical activity that the game offers, it is a good enough workout that anyone who plays it for an extended period will feel it in their arms, and maybe even a bit in their legs. Sure, it not a full aerobic work out, but it is an active experience and it does an admirable job of mimicking real cheerleading motions too. It is definitely a game that gets the kids out of their seats and gets them a bit more active rather then just sitting there and pressing buttons.
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