Impressions: We Cheer 2

For many the sport of cheerleading is universally looked down upon because of its implications – it’s for “girls only.” Men aren’t “allowed.” In fact, most wouldn’t even classify it as a sport, though the amount of training required to become one of the best is in no way any less strenuous than that of other athletes’ regimens. We tend to view cheerleading video games with the same sneer upon our faces. “Cheerleading? Who’d want to do that?” I admit I’m guilty of that very thought process, and in spite of my gender (girl) I usually have no use for “girly” conventions like babysitting or cheerleading in gaming; it’s generally not my thing. I do, however, enjoy music and rhythm-based titles, and I had quite a bit of fun with Namco Bandai’s second attempt at the genre in We Cheer 2. While you can most certainly get quite a bit of enjoyment out of it if you’re willing to put up with annoying waggle and inaccurate controls, what’s here isn’t enough to recommend over something as accessible as Rock Band or even rival title All Star Cheer Squad.

We Cheer 2 lets you step into the shoes of a young cheerleader who dreams of one day rising to the top of a cheer squad as a renowned captain. To do so, you’ll be partaking in several cheerleading presentations featuring several well-known teenybopper classics – 30 to be exact – all the while waggling to beat the band. Once you start up a routine, you’ll need to follow the directional arrows onscreen with the Nunchuk and Wii Remote. Simply follow the movements you’re shown onscreen that occur in time with the beat of the current song. That’s the basic idea. Sometimes you’ll need to move your arms in a wide arcs or circles, and sometimes you’ll need to perform more cheerleader-centric moves such as the exaggerated motion of shaking your pom-poms. The core mechanics aren’t rocket science, but executing them can most certainly be a real pain.

Even the simplest of motions can be misread in-game. Moving your arms back and forth will be read as moving too slow or too quickly, often confoundingly so. We Cheer 2 takes so much issue with translating your arm movements into positions your onscreen characters can perform that often you can thrash around wildly and perform better in a song than you would if you adhered strictly to the onscreen instructions. As you can imagine, this can be frustrating if you’re planning on making higher scores than simply passable ones. You can play well enough to perform admirably with practice, but it’s clear that this game could benefit from the extra precision that the Wii Motion Plus peripheral provides. Unfortunately, this is a problem that many Wii titles fall victim to.

It’s a real shame, too, as We Cheer 2 packs bubbly, effervescent attitude into an adorable, anime-inspired package. It’s all smiles and rainbows throughout this game, and its infectious optimism will no doubt spread to you even throughout your failed endeavors to perfect each routine. The colors, song choices (Blur, Miley Cyrus, Chumbawumba, and more), and even the character models scream “sweetness” and it’s obvious who this game was targeted for. It’s energetic, upbeat, and fun. And there’s nothing wrong with a little of that these days, now is there?

Once you’ve completed the in-depth tutorial and have gotten your fill of the dance routines associated with the 30 songs, you can opt for multiplayer modes, including cheer-offs where you can compete against friends to get the best score, balloon-passing minigames, and several other game modes that add a dash of spice and variety to the game after you’ve finished its main mode of play. Playing with others, as you can imagine, inspires you to keep on plugging away, as it washes away the potential embarrassment you may have waving around your Wii remote and Nunchuk willy-nilly.

We Cheer 2 isn’t an embarrassment, nor a blemish on the face of the ever-growing collection of Wii titles available for purchase. It simply lacks the polish needed for me to fully recommend it as a viable vehicle to promote cheerleading or more active movement in-game.  But even with its faults, I did have fun playing around in this virtual cheerleading universe and even find myself strangely looking forward to future installments.  Tweak the controls a bit more first, add in some more new and relevant tunes, and the We Cheer franchise may be on its way to being a hit for children and even rhythm gamers – and maybe change a few stereotypes in the process.

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