- Xbox 360
Ever since the introduction of Avatars – no don’t get excited we’re not talking about James Cameron’s nausea inducing blockbuster in late 2008 (try sitting on the front row of the cinema if you don’t understand), developers have been attempting to justify the existence of these misshapen representations with a plethora of other similar ideas. Joining this pointless quest is developer Danimal with Avatar Boogie.
The premise is simple, choose from 50 premade Avatars and watch them dance to either one of five included tracks – with accompanying dance style: disco, line, break, etc or your own music. A small amount of diversity is added with ‘modes’ (though to suggest these resemble a typical game mode would be insulting to even the worst movie tie-in), which basically offer either a freestyle dance session with randomly choreographed dance moves or a coordinated dance troupe, and the ability to pause or otherwise alter the speed of the performance.
Avatar Boogie is big on talk: “Multiple dance arenas, tons of camera options, and slick dance moves await you in full 1080p resolution!”. The implementation however is sadly lacking: three arenas is hardly impressive and when two use single images that look like they were dragged out of a generic PC shooter from 1998 the impact is lessened further. Three camera options is also less than stellar, and calling the dance moves slick is akin to likening Peter Crouch’s infamous robot dance to Swan Lake. The Avatar’s dancing could at best be described as puppet like and probably more fairly as geriatric. The camera can either orbit around these shenanigans or be controlled by the player, again not really ground breaking. Finally the use of 1080p resolution is completely pointless on characters with less animation than your gran watching last of the summer wine.
To be fair to the developer they more than likely did not write the hyperbole that stands for a summary on the XBLA page but it certainly doesn’t do the game any favours. It would have been better marketed as an alternative to the visualiser included on the Xbox and at around 70 pence it’s not daylight robbery. Most of the blame for this lacklustre offering lies with Microsoft: due to the terms and conditions surrounding the use of Avatars, player created Avatars cannot be used in Avatar Boogie because Avatars cannot act independently of player input. Microsoft appears terrified that if Avatars were allowed to act autonomously they might unite to form a super AI that would start judgement day.
This same logic probably explains why Xbox users can rip music off of CD’s but can’t copy music files straight onto their console. So if the user doesn’t want to purchase music through the marketplace or has already ripped their collection to another device, such as a flash drive, they can’t use it in Avatar Boogie. Allegedly there’s the option to stream music from a PC but that didn’t seem to work either.
The description and name of this title suggests a game where you could control your own Avatar in a dance dance revolution style escapade, it wouldn’t have been original but it at least could have been some fun. Watching Avatars dance is only slightly above watching paint dry in terms of entertainment value, and the execution is functional at best.
Proceedings could have been made substantially more stimulating if Avatars reacted to each other at all, we’re not asking for Ben Stiller vs Owen Wilson in Zoolander but it’s like watching a divorced couple who’ve accidentally bumped into each other at a disco, each seemingly inhabiting a parallel dimension. Still if you use your Xbox 360 to listen to music a lot and are completely bored with the existing visualiser then this is another option.