All Star Cheerleader
Support Luke, click to buy via us...
We Cheer turns Wii-mote flailing into an artform with genuine exercise value. Not as precise a game as All Star Cheerleader, and because of this a lot more challenging. Either way though, there is still fun and exercise a plenty here.
Cheerleaders, teenage girls apparently want to be them, and teenage boys would quite like to be with them. And 30-something blokes feel rather silly pretending to be them for the purposes of a game review, but such are the sacrifices we make for our readers.
It's been a while since I first reviewed All Star Cheerleader Wii, and in that time we've gone from the Heroes 'saving the cheerleader to save the world', to a borderline psychotic ex-marine running the cheer squad in Glee. But whatever the image of cheerleaders on TV they seem to be everywhere. So it was only a matter of time before cheerleading would become its own sub-genre of the now somewhat crowded dance game segment with the arrival of We Cheer for the Wii - thankfully we are saved from what might have been Wii Cheer .
In concept We Cheer is very much like All Star Cheerleader, you join a cheer squad, practice your moves, and then compete in competitions, progressing through a series of increasingly hard routines. Stylistically however they are quite different. Out go the fairly naturalistic graphics of All Star, and in come simpler characters who look like Anime meets Bratz, with big bobble-heads and anatomically surreal bodies. While there's nothing wrong with a more cartoony feel, the overall look of We Cheer is a lot less polished, with blocky graphics and some poor design work.
I'm also not sure that the stick thin characters are a good thing for young kids in this age of distorted body image and eating disorders. The graphical simplicity does however have the up side that each routine loads much faster than in the frustratingly glacial All Star, where you can spend more time between game than in them.
The exercise routines are more varied and will have you doing more non-dance moves.
We Cheer also beats All Star Cheerleader with a smarter approach to the controls. By using a second Wii Remote rather than a nun-chuck, those of us over the age of 10 can actually do the moves without risking decapitation or being constantly restrained by the nun-chuck cable. Allowing greater freedom of movement means more variation in the kinds of moves you can do, and makes them more dynamic. Many moves in All Star Cheerleader were really just striking poses, here in We Cheer though the movements are more fluid.
These movements are illustrated onscreen with "Trace Lines", colour-coded lines showing what to do with each hand. You then have to perform these moves in time with the music, with stars indicating where you should be in the move, while matching your avatars body movements. With little forewarning of what your next move will be, and some very quick sequences, it can be fiendishly difficult to get the hang of. Unfortunately the practice mode is very simple, just teaching you the basics of the control system, not all the moves themselves. This is something that All Star Cheerleader did much better, gradually building up your repertoire rather than throwing you in at the deep end. We Cheer is also frustratingly picky about your movements. I was pretty sure I was doing many of the moves right, but it would frequently mark down one or other of my hand movements. Having said all that, with some practice you will start to get the hang of it, but be prepared for a steep learning curve.
Dance games are one of the best alternatives to straight exercise games like Wii Fit, especially for kids, and We Cheer is no exception.
When not competing you can also do a workout with your cheerleaders and a token overweight guy. The setup is pretty much the same as the routines, you try to keep up with your onscreen avatar while you work through sequences of dance and exercise moves. If you can keep up, all the routines in We Cheer are a good workout, but the exercise routines are more varied and will have you doing more non-dance moves. If you don't work up a sweat then you are a lot fitter than I am. However I found the number of calories it claims I burnt was unrealistically high, and a lot more than was reported by my pulse meter, so I would take those numbers with a pinch of salt.
Like All Star Cheerleader, We Cheer has multi-player modes for up to four players, although in that case only one hand will be measured as you only have one controller each. You also can't use the Wii Balance Board which is a shame, but doesn't detract from the overall experience much.
Dance games are one of the best alternatives to straight exercise games like Wii Fit, especially for kids, and We Cheer is no exception. It can be really difficult to get the hang of, and isn't structured or polished like All Star Cheerleader, but the added freedom of movement and more fluid routines mean it is a more enjoyable and effective exercise. We Cheer could be a great way to get young girls active, but be prepared for a fairly steep learning curve.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: