All Star Cheer Squad Review for Nintendo DS

All Star Cheer Squad Review for Nintendo DS

The Blandest Cheer
You’ve Ever Seen

When I think of cheerleading games, I immediately think of 2006’s all-male cheer fest, Elite Beat Agents. This title featured cool tunes, wacky cheer-inspired storylines, and was one of the more original titles of the year. Needless to say, the bar is definitely high in my eyes when it comes to cheer-inspired games.

All Star Cheer Squad screenshot

Although All-Star Cheer Squad on the DS attempts to channel the spirit of cheer movies like “Bring it on” with a friends-focused story. However, its lack of memorable gameplay, bland characters, and even weaker graphics make this title a little less than cheer-worthy.

When you first start up the game, it is fairly obvious who the developers were trying to target with this title. You can only play as a female and are able to moderately customize your features. You then learn that your character is going away to cheer camp for the first time, and she must prove herself as the new rookie in town. The story covers all the basics in a very formulaic manner, from your caring coach captain, to rival “frenemies” who will try and hold you back. Consequently, the various characters run together with the different “types” you’ve seen in other tween-focused media. In the end, the story is probably what will draw young girls too this title, but if you’ve ever seen a cheerleading movie, you probably know what is going to happen already.

The game mechanics are tied very strongly to story events, and after talking with different characters, you will have to put together a daily schedule of events. This schedule includes cheer practice, workout time, and time to talk with others. It will also eventually allow you to take part in competitions and challenges. The cheer schedule will need to be created fresh every day and will feature several pre-scheduled events, as well as user-added events you can manually add in to increase certain cheerleading stats. You can also leave certain spots in your daily schedule free to talk to your fellow cheerleaders and earn “reputation” points around the camp.

All Star Cheer Squad screenshot

This main structural element allows you to progress through each day relatively easily. Each “activity” you will complete is represented by a different tap-based mini-game. The mini-games here have a nice amount of variety, but the main issue I have is that some of these mini-games are just not all that interesting. For instance, a “leg training” mini-game attempts to simulate jumping rope by displaying a floating star icon that you will have to tap in time. The mini-game is mindless and boring. Even though there are plenty of other mini-games, all of them seem to suffer from the same issue.

Aside from fitness mini-games, however, the main cheerleading mechanic works well. The different cheer steps are represented on the bottom screen as little “spirit beads” that all flow towards a giant circle. Once the beads enter the circle, you will have a few seconds to touch them with your stylus to activate them. The structure looks a lot like the circular structure used in Samba de Amigo, except with an inverted flow of notes. The main cheer mechanic works very well across all difficulty levels. Once you reach higher levels, there are even some special moves you can pull off by touching different parts of the screen.

All Star Cheer Squad screenshot

Even though the cheering itself is not all that bad, the music in this title really is. Instead of popular music tunes, the game opts for repetitive beats that hardly inspire any kind of cheering. The music is so poor you may find yourself turning the sound off, which is not a good sign in a rhythm-based cheering title. As for other sound effects and voiceover, those elements are minimal at best, and the sound scheme is very meager overall.

Control in this title is hit or miss, with some of the mini-games working well and some that suffer from being unintuitive and clunky. As I’ve said before, the cheerleading mini-game works well, but some of the other tap-controlled mini-games are difficult to control, especially on higher levels. For instance, one strength training mini-game requires you to hit certain small targets on the screen. While these targets are simple enough to hit on the easier levels, they become unresponsive at higher levels and present an unnecessary challenge.

All Star Cheer Squad screenshot

The graphics in All-Star Cheer Squad on the DS are sub-standard. Different cheerleader characters are featureless, and there are many recurring proportion issues. One humorous aspect of the poor graphics is the character animations. Each cheerleader seems to have a small handful of stock animations that are displayed when you speak to them, and sometimes these animations are completely inappropriate to the situation at-hand. For instance, my character got into a heated argument with another cheerleader and expressed her frustration and anger with a high five. Another problem with the graphics is the bland environments. For a mini-game-based title, you will do a lot of walking around. Because of the aforementioned proportional issues, it is hard to know exactly where your character is in a given environment, and the lack of detail really compounds this issue.

Although there are plenty of bad points about All-Star Cheer Squad, I am fairly sure that most little kids who are interested in this title won’t care too much. As hit or miss as the gameplay might be, the cute little teamwork-based story is really the centerpiece of the game, and chances are good that the tween girl demographic that this title aims to please will probably eat this one up. However, if you are looking for more than a cute story about cheerleading camp, then you may want to pass on this one.

Graphics are grainy and painfully bland. Environments are hard to make out and often make getting around the different areas difficult. 2.4 Control
The Samba de Amigo-like tap system works well enough for cheer routines, but some of the other mini-games are almost impossible to control and feel imbalanced. 1.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The simplistic and repetitive music is definitely nothing to cheer about. 2.5

Play Value
Although younger players may relate to the cheer camp storyline, the gameplay just isn’t that fun and suffers from too many repetitive elements.

2.5 Overall Rating – Average
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Compete in squad and one-on-one cheer-offs.
  • Customize the look of your team including body, facial features, hair and outfits.
  • Learn new moves and choreograph your own cheer routines to music.

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