I think it’s safe to say by now that cheerleading sims are not my cup of tea. In fact, the majority of gamers wouldn’t give All Star Cheer Squad a second glance as they breeze through the Wii section at their favorite store. However, for its intended audience (namely little girls or even some adults who have always wanted to be cheerleaders) it’s actually quite the solid title.
All Star Cheer Squad wants to take your mundane, video game playing butt and pump some spirit into it. Before you can get your rah-rah on, the game first asks you to create the avatar that will serve as you for the remainder of the game. Surprisingly, the option to play as a male was included (I didn’t see that coming seeing as the game is marketed toward girls). After gender comes eyes, face shapes, hair, make-up, and of course, clothing. After you’ve created your peppy little firecracker, it’s time to give them a name and get to cheering! I named my cheerleader Sandy. Hey, I was in a Grease mood!
When you’ve created your cheerleader, it’s time to get down to business. In a painfully Disney Channel-esque storyline, you’re the new member of the squad. You’ll have to prove yourself to the rest of the seasoned cheerleaders before you can actually perform. If it feels a little too much like Bring it On, that’s because the game features choreography work from Tony G., who just happened to be responsible for the cheerleading moves seen in the movies.
Gameplay is simple: follow through the tutorial mode presented by the cheerleaders where they teach you how to hold the Wii remote and Nunchuk just so in order to register movements. Throughout the game, players will progress through different stages of competitions and practices. A bar on the bottom of the screen will scroll that contains the timing and which movement that needs to be performed. If you’ve played any rhythm games, then this should not comes as a shock. There are a myriad of different moves to perform, such as making L shapes with both arms, creating Vs, waggling the remote back and forth, and other various cheerleading gestures that look best when done by a group of spirited girls.
If you just can’t quite figure out how to place your arms in order to perform a move, a helpful guide is stationary on the top left of the screen with a silhouette of a cheerleader to help you figure things out. While figuring out what moves you are asked to perform is relatively easy, as usual the Wii stumbles in registering moves. For instance, in travels to more important cheerleading competitions, movements become lightning fast and it can be quite difficult to discern one symbol onscreen from another, while the Wii senselessly ignores every move you throw at it for a few seconds. Wii sensitivity is an ongoing issue, it seems, and one that deeply affects All Star Cheer Squad.
While most movements are performed via the Wii remote and Nunchuk, the balance board can be utilized as well. While I didn’t have a balance board at the time that I reviewed the game, I did note that you can use it during practices or certain championships in the game. For instance, stepping on and off the balance board will mirror your movements on the screen. While this does add another dimension to the game, don’t start thinking of it as a Wii Fit wannabe. You might get a bit of a workout, but not so much as you would with actual exercise or even Nintendo’s darling. Obviously this was the correct way that the developers intended for you to play, but if you don’t have one you can get along just fine without it.
As for graphics, character models are appropriately peppy and bright, but there is a dearth of attention to detail. While players shouldn’t expect much from the graphics nor the locations scattered throughout, it shouldn’t be much of an issue anyway, considering half the time gamers will be keeping an eye on the gauge at the bottom of the screen to see which moves to perform. However this is still no excuse for the Wii to be handling such poor graphics when we know it is capable of much more. And the music? Don’t get your hopes up, it’s mostly a lot of energetic and peppy cheering music that plenty of preteens should enjoy, but it’s nothing to write home about. It does, admittedly, do a good job of setting the mood, so we can’t quite fault it for that.
All in all, All Star Cheer Squad is a surprisingly interesting game, if you take away the fact that it IS about cheerleading. All jokes aside, though some movements hardly register, it’s accessible enough for younger gamers to pick up and have some fun with. Usage of the Wii Balance Board is a great perk since Wii Fit is most likely gathering dust by now. If you know some kids (or…you) who have an interest in learning to become cheerleaders, then this title has potential. I know, I’m just as surprised as you are!