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All Star Cheerleader 2 (All Star Cheer Squad in the US) is the first sequel to the batch of cheerleading games that arrived last year. Like We Cheer, Samba de Amigo and Boogie and High School Musical Dance! on the Nintendo Wii it uses gestures to get the player flinging their limbs around. But unlike these others All Star Cheerleader 2 focuses on precision rather than exuberance. Although it doiesn't support MotionPlus you can pull out Wii-Fit's balance board to add a balancing and foot placement angle to proceedings.
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All Star Cheerleader (Squad) 2, like the first game, brings a degree of choreography to the dance rhythm genre. Whereas other games get players moving in time with the musical queues, players here learn the staccato precision required for tightly rehearsed movements that turn pom pom shaking into a real sporting pursuit. This is more Rhythm Action in the classical sense of the genre rather than the more recent dance focused diversification.
Not only does the player have to move in time with the music - as indicated with the on screen guide - but they also need to hit specific poses. As the song plays, a series of Wii-mote/Nun-chuck positions move across the screen. This are made up of various combinations of up/down/diagonal directions. The aim is to be in position in the middle of the scoring zone. Too early or too late and you'll miss out on precious points.
Although dance games such as High School Musical Dance! and We Cheer provide a range of pop music to pump and jump your cheerleader moves to, All Star Cheerleader (Squad) 2 goes down the remix route. Ironically though, it is this rehashed music that fits the embiance of the rest of the game. There is a slightly light hearted miss-teen america sensibility to both the story and the main action.
The freshness of the dance implementation is matched by some saccharine visuals and voice work. A wide variety of (what appear to the uninitiated to be) the main cheerleading troops are provided for, each with their own emblem and outfits. You can customise your own cheerleader - to an ever greater degree as you unlock clothing and accessories.
Again, as in the first All Star Cheerleader (Squad) game on the Wii, small town American twangs abound as you make your way through the storied single player mode. Here, you can add in the Wii-Fit balance board for extra realism. This is then used to score extra points by correct foot positions, and also for the balancing moves that occur later in the game.
The single player is complemented by some co-operative and competitive multiplayer modes. The ability to 'attack' your opponents dance line - making it harder for them to hit their moves - is great fun for a family to play together.
Players will be attracted to the game as a fun alternative to many of the more serious Dance Dance Revolution dance-mat controlled games popular in the late 90's. And certainly, it does a great job of getting everyone up out of their feet and moving around.
Stood in the living room, moving and pausing in time with the music (and the rest of my cheer-troupe colleagues) was more fun than I had imagined. The game's focus on both position and timing required a lot of concentration. Pulling of a streak of perfect moves was more than enough to be punching the air in jubilation - then checking no one was watching.
As in the first All Star Cheerleader (Squad) game, the cheer sets themselves are only as long as a single music track. Around this however there is a considerable amount or reading, listening and loading to be done. This takes what would be (at minimum) a fifteen minute game and makes it a good twenty five. Although it never drags too badly, it does mean you will want to set aside a little time to play.
The nature of the game means you need a good bit of space in which to play. If you can add a wireless Wii-mote into the mix all the better, as it enables you to really punch out each gesture - without the tethering wire.
Very young players will enjoy the visuals, but struggle to combine both gestures and timing. In multiplayer mode this is less of an issue - particularly if you have one infant on each team - as experienced player's scores can offset those of the novice. We Cheer may be a better match for these players.
Junior children and newer players will have great fun learning the different cheering motions and putting them together in a routine. The precision required did mean our kids got a little frustrated at times though, and we found High School Musical Dance! was much more forgiving.
Intermediates may find this experience more satisfying than the similar Samba de Amigo Wii. Here they can appreciate the greater degree of control required - something that seems to fit the sometimes oversensitive Wii controllers.
Experts and students may find the kiddy cheerleading theme in All Star Cheerleader (Squad) on the Wii a little hard to get past. There is plenty to challenge here though - in fact the precise moves and gesture require more precision than the hardcore favourite de Amigo. It's only the lack of MotionPlus support that keeps this from being a really eduring challenge.
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