Grab Your Wiimotes
When you think of cheer leading, one of the first thoughts that comes to mind is pom-poms. Pom-poms are replicated in We Cheer 2 with Wiimotes. If you don’t have two Wiimotes, you can still play with either your left or right hand, but the experience is much more interactive and rewarding if you just use two Wiimotes. You do not need Wii Motion Plus, although it doesn’t hurt if you have it connected. Before jumping into the tutorial (which you can skip and come back to at anytime), you first need to choose a character. There are ten female and six males to choose from, and I chose Brad. Your choice will then be saved to your profile which is used for every other feature in the game.
As you might imagine, controls in We Cheer 2 are straight-forward. The difficulty comes in coordination and timing. The game centers entirely around matching what are known as Trace Lines. Trace Lines are colored lines with an arrowhead at their far end that show you how to move your Wiimotes. Each line is colored to represent your left and right hand. Within each line are animated arrow heads that move at a different rate. The idea is to move your Wiimote in the proper direction and with the proper speed to match the Trace Line. As far as how accurately the game matches your motion, I’ve seen a lot worse on the Wii. We Cheer 2 isn’t perfect, but I thought it worked consistently well enough to certainly make it playable. I’m not saying you won’t encounter several moments of “what, I totally did that right!” (when the game says you didn’t), or vice versa, but for what it is, it works well enough. Truthfully, any inaccuracy the game may detect on your part probably helps you as much as it hurts you; it’s an awkward balance that many games have had to walk on the Wii.
Anyway, Trace Line movements include very basic maneuvers like raising your hands straight up and slightly more complicated motions like making a full circle in front of you, or smaller full circles off to one side of your head. Just like other rhythm games, your motions are tracked and scored based on accuracy. When doing a motion, you want the word Cool! to pop-up at the end point of the Trace Line (where the arrowhead is). If so, you’ve hit the motion spot-on, and you’ve netted the most points possible. Other than Cool!, you’ll see other key words like “Faster,” “More Energy!,” “Slower,” and “Missed.” Following the on screen action can get pretty frantic, so different text colors and audible cues are used to let you know how you’re doing. You can get an idea of your overall performance for a cheer sequence by looking at the megaphone icon in the lower right of the HUD. This icon starts off empty, but fills up with color as you work your way through a song. Filling up this icon means that you have done well enough to earn a ‘pass’ on this cheer.
Two other opportunities come up randomly during the course of each song to help you pull off that perfect cheer: Bonus and Stunt time. At some point in each song, several tiles will appear at the bottom of the screen. These tiles have letters on their backside that you cannot see. The Trace Lines change to a rainbow color during this short sequence. If you get most of the motions right during the next few seconds, the tiles flip over to reveal a phrase like “U*Rock.” Immediately after these letters are flipped over, you enter a short Bonus time where you can just shake the Wiimotes like drumsticks as fast as possible to earn more points. The Stunt time is similar, with a different cue other than tiles appearing at the bottom of the HUD. If you get a few motions exactly right, your team will perform an advanced stunt, netting you a few more points.
The heart of this game is cheering, and cheers are, of course, set to music. We Cheer 2 includes 30 popular songs, and those are:
• “Get Ready For This” – 2 Unlimited
• “Mickey” – Toni Basil
• “Pump It (Clean Version)” – Black Eyed Peas
• “Run It Back Again” – Corbin Bleu
• “Song 2” – Blur
• “Get Down With This” – Imani Coppola
• “Tubthumping” – Chumbawumba
• “GNO (Girls Night Out)” – Miley Cyrus
• “Real Wild Child” – Everlife
• “Beat It (Feat. John Mayer)” – Fall Out Boy
• “Glamorous (Clean Version)” – Fergie
• “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know” – Selena Gomez
• “Homecoming” – Hey Monday
• “Let’s Dance” – Vanessa Hudgens
• “Just Dance” – Lady GaGa
• “Girlfriend” – Avril Lavigne
• “La La Land” – Demi Lovato
• “Leavin’ (Radio Edit Remix)” – Jesse McCartney
• “Closer” – Ne-Yo
• “Whoa” – Paramore
• “Higher Ground” – Red Hot Chili Peppers
• “Pon de Replay” – Rihanna
• “Walk This Way” – Run DMC
• “Push It” – Salt N Pepa
• “All Star” – Smash Mouth
• “The Power” – Snap!
• “So Bring It On” – The Cheetah Girls
• “Doing It Right” – The Go! Team
• “Popular” – The Veronicas
• “Headstrong” – Ashley Tisdale
Only a half dozen or so of these songs are available from the start, but you can unlock the rest of them within two hours. To unlock more songs, you need only complete three, six, nine, and twelve songs on any difficulty. So you’ll get access to all songs pretty quickly, which can be both a good and a bad thing. On the one hand, it means you can play through each song in no time, and not have any new music to look forward to (I doubt we’ll see any downloadable content, but maybe). On the other hand, it’s nice to have the full selection early on so you can spend more time with your favorites.
I can’t say I found any one song more difficult than the other, although some do include slightly more advanced movements than others. No maneuver is too hard, and the only real difficulty with the game in general for anyone with even average coordination is just keeping up with the Trace Lines on Intermediate and Advanced difficulty. The Beginner difficulty lets you get away with just about anything and still pass, where Intermediate and especially Advanced require much stricter accuracy in following the Trace Lines direction and speed.
Modes of Play
We Cheer 2 has two main playing components: Championships and Cheer Squad. Between the two, I spent most of my time with Championships, as it’s the quickest way to unlock all of the tracks and you earn Cheer Points (think Experience Points) in a hurry. I’ll explain Cheer Points shortly, but I wanted to point out that the Championships mode is basically your free play mode. In it, you can choose what song and what background (more than a dozen to choose from, some have to be unlocked though) and on what difficulty level you want to play. There actually isn’t any kind of tournament structure here; it’s just one song, and then you either quit or change songs.
As for Cheer Squad, this is the ‘story’ mode of the game. Cheer Squad begins with a short text based cutscene where your character arrives at a generic school and wants to try out for the squad. This mode is a more structured mode than Championships in that you play through a very basic story, with one ‘mission’ being available only after you complete its predecessor. You still get to choose what song and what difficulty you want to play, but the locations are determined for you. The goal here is to go from newcomer to the team leader and to win the championship. The story mode gives you a chance to learn a little bit about the other CPU controlled characters (they each have a basic personality). Just as with Championships and the other modes, playing Cheer Squad earns you more Cheer Points, too.
So Cheer Points are tied to your user profile and are earned whether you play the Training, Workout, Championships, or Cheer Squad mode. No matter where you earn the points, they all count towards your running total. Cheer Points move you through the ranks of Trainee, Amateur, Recruit, Junior, and so on through to Captain I believe (I didn’t make it quite that far). These new ranks are just a measure of how much you’ve played, but also go towards unlocking the 185 Rewards in the game. These rewards (and what you have to achieve to get them) can be viewed from the Options menu. Rewards include new stages to dance on, new outfits and accessories, the ability to play a stage in both day (default) and night, and new songs (although these are all unlocked very quickly as I mentioned earlier).
New outfits and accessories come in handy for those players that really want to customize their fifteen member cheer squad. You can edit character names, skin tones, eyes, hair, face paint, brows, and a few other features too. The more Rewards you earn the more customization that you can do on an individual basis and as a full squad. Changes to the squad include being able to shift members around and changing outfits. I didn’t expect this much depth in a game like this, so for the serious fan, that’s neat.
Other available modes of play include multiplayer, where each player uses one Wiimote to control one hand of the main character. I wasn’t able to test this, but imagine it works just as well as the single player using two Wiimotes. Players can also spend time in the Tutorial or Training area. From here, you can go over all of the motions in the game, including the most basic motions and other cheer maneuvers like Waves and Kicks. An exercise mode is also included known as Workout mode that can help you work up a sweat.
In terms of presentation, We Cheer 2 is on par for what we’ve come to expect from a Wii game. Graphics aren’t very detailed or vibrant, but everything looks okay. In terms of art direction, it’s a very colorful and energetic looking game with a soundtrack to match. I will say that there are a lot of load times, however. Just about every screen change requires at least a three second load sequence, if not a bit longer. That might not sound like much, but it’s time that adds up. Just to get started, I had to get through a half dozen load screens creating my profile and loading the tutorial. You’ll notice the load screen early and often, and even though it doesn’t appear for long at any one point, it shows up a lot. I think the developers could have probably streamlined the interface a little more and maybe put more selectable options on one screen rather than having them spread out across multiple screens; that may have helped.
With that, let’s get to the summary…