The premise for We Cheer for Wii is simple enough: choose a squad leader for your brigade of cheerleaders and travel cross-country from venue to venue as you pump up the audience through expertly choreographed dance routines.
With each stage you clear, you can recruit another cheerleader to your squad, unlock clothes, shoes and pom-poms to customise your dancers with, and further your tour across America in a variety of colourful, innovative stages. Sound simple enough, right?
Now, keep in mind that I said the premise is simple. The gameplay? This is the reason you have that little strap on the end of your Wii remote: not so the controller doesn't slip out of your hand, but so you don't end up throwing your controller out your window and into oncoming traffic.
If you'd have told me that a cheerleading simulation would be one of the few titles I'd play in 2008 that would make me want to snap my controller in half (move over, Mega Man 9) I'd never have believed you. Thirty seven failed dance routines to the same Hillary Duff song later? The blood lust sets in.
Before each We Cheer dance routine, you're treated to a short cut-scene where your squad leader speaks with a potential recruit while pre-recorded giggles chime in between the scrolling text. After a brief reminder on how to hold the Wii remotes (one in each hand), the lights dim and you're on.
Once the music starts, various Trace Lines (red lines for your right hand, blue lines for your left) appear on screen, and it's your duty to move the Wii Remotes across the trace lines in sync with the music. This sounds like a winning formula and potentially a very fun game... if it didn't have the learning curve of Ninja Gaiden.
Okay, that's a bit extreme, but We Cheer is a game of trial and error: you start a stage, aimlessly flail your arms until you inevitably fail, try the stage again and hope that this time you remember when you're supposed to wave your left pom-pom in the second verse of "Perfect Day" by Hoku. While the choreographed dancing is colourful and smooth and the venues innovative and fun, the gameplay is simply frustrating as can be with poor motion detection that rarely registers the waves of your Wii remote and, at best, absurd Trace Lines that pop out of nowhere, turning each routine into more of a memorisation game than anything.
Your success in each stage is dictated by a megaphone in the lower right hand corner of the screen that fills up with each successful cheer. To add insult to injury, if you don't fill up the megaphone all the way, you have to start over. Say you screw up halfway through the song? There's no restart, much less a pause button, so suck it up and shake those pom-poms!
With each performance acting as an "all or nothing" event, you can only imagine the frustration when you fill the megaphone up to 90 percent, only to miss your last Trace Line and start the entire routine over again.
In the game's defence, We Cheer has quite a selection of songs. Sure, there's the expected Disney Channel tunes, but at the same time you're offered hits from KC & The Sunshine Band, Kenny Loggins, EMF, Moby - songs that would be an absolute blast if the game didn't make you want to snap your Wii-mote in two!
If anything, I can't help but see We Cheer as a missed opportunity. The game is filled to the brim with personality and has something for everyone on its rather impressive track list, but the gameplay itself is simply exhaustive trial-and-error routines that leave you with a sour taste in your mouth.
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