An excellent cheerleading simulation game for the Kinect
Let’s Cheer for Kinect is another one of those games that many people will scoff at the idea of, but when you look beneath the surface you’ll find a surprisingly well designed game that really shows what the Kinect is capable of in terms of being a simulation and teaching tool.
The target audience for Let’s Cheer is obviously teen and young teen girls. But anyone who is willing to toss their inhibitions aside can enjoy it and get a pretty decent workout.
Years ago, cheerleading used to consist of girls and boys with pom poms and megaphones shouting encouragement to their sports team. Boy, have things changed. Today, cheerleading is an intense and competitive sport in itself. Instead of merely jumping up and down, today’s cheerleaders do amazingly complex choreographed routines. This is the world of Let’s Cheer.
When you start the game, you select a “squad captain” and a color of your uniform. You have a limited choice at the beginning, but as the game progresses additional choices will unlock.
The main menu is simple and consists of three choices: Cheers, Extras, and Select Squad Members.
When you select “Cheers”, you see a menu of five levels of increasing intensity: Local, District, State, Regionals, and Nationals. Each of these levels contains a combination of short cheerleading chants (of the “go team go” variety) or longer dance routines to popular music. Some of the chants and dance routines are locked and can be unlocked only as you progress through earlier levels.
For example, on the “Local” level you have the following options:
- Defense Attack (football chant)
- Let’s Get Fired Up (general sports chant)
- Shoot for Two (basketball chant)
- Celebration (dance routine)
- Rebound That Basketball (basketball chant)
- That’s the Way I Like It (dance routine)
Each chant or routine is assigned a difficulty level of 1 to 5.
Regardless of whether you choose a chant or a dance routine, you’ll have three options: Train, Perform, or play as a 2-player team.
As with games like Dance Central, your job is to mirror the moves the on-screen character is making, and if you don’t match the motion properly the part of your body that you’re not moving will glow red. Also as with Dance Central, each sequence is broken down into real-life cheerleading components with names like “Blade Clip”, “Punch It Up Twist”, “Jazz It High” and “Reverse Stop Stop Turn”, which are identified by icons on the side so you can always anticipate the next move that’s coming (unlike Dance Center, these are decidedly more “cheerleader moves” than “dance moves”. For each chant or dance routine you can also choose Easy, Moderate, or Hard which will affect the complexity of the motions within the routine.
Train breaks down the chant or dance routine in slow motion so you can learn and memorize the moves. For chants, after you’ve done it once in slow motion, you’ll be able to do it again at full speed. The “hard” setting at any level really starts to approach the complexity of real cheerleading.
Perform will have you lead a whole squad in doing the routine you just practiced in a competitive setting complete with announcer and cheering crowds. Your task is to do the routine as perfectly as possible. The better you do it, the more stars you’ll get, which will help you unlock other routines. As you complete performances, you’ll also be able to pose for pictures on “magazine covers”.
2-Player is like Perform, except that instead of an entire squad dancing it’s just two cheerleaders standing next to each other. Each cheerleader is controlled by a different player standing in front of the Kinect. It’s a great way for two friends to practice dancing together, and also to complete by seeing who can do it most flawlessly. The space limitation of the Kinect is a bit of a concern with routines where you’re spinning and flailing your arms in all different directions, but for the most part the motion detection was very good.
Here’s the entire “Regional” level (with my magazine shoot carefully edited out, thank you very much).
As you progress through the game, you’ll encounter many more football, basketball, and general cheers such as “Come on, Let’s Score” and “Big G Little O”, which are actual classic cheerleader chants. Perhaps the best compliment one can give this game came in the form of an Amazon review, where a mom said that not only did her daughters love the game, they even used it to start designing their own actual cheerleading routines for their own squad. It’s that realistic a game.
You’ll also encounter a large number of dance routines to popular music, including Celebration (Kool and the Gang), That’s the Way I Like It (KC and the Sunshine Band), I Like to Move It (), Hollaback Girl (Gwen Stefani), Disturbia (Rihanna), When I Grow Up (Pussycat Dolls), Mickey (Toni Basil), Starstrukk (3OH!3), Just Dance (Lady Gaga), Shake It (Metro Station).
Motion detection for the most part was spot-on. If you look at the videos (please don’t look too carefully), you’ll see that scoring was a wee bit generous given that I didn’t really match the movements too well (not being a 75 pound 15 year old has its disadvantages), but yet I managed to get pretty good scores. Having said that, the only way to get perfect scores is to really learn and match the routine exactly (especially at hard difficulty on advanced levels), so there’s a lot of motivation to do so.
In the “Extras” menu you can turn on calorie tracking. It’s not a very accurate count, since it can’t detect how intense your motions are nor what your weight is (which technically will dictate how many calories you burn). But it’s a nice reminder that you are burning *some* calories. As with most games of this ilk, you can fake your way through it, but you’ll only get a real fitness boost if you put your whole body into it. Under Extras you can also view Stats and view Magazine Covers.
Overall, I wouldn’t say this was a particularly strenuous workout game, but it does get you moving. At its core, it’s really a cheerleading simulation, and not a bad one at that. If you have young girls in the house who may aspire to get into cheerleading, I’d say this is not a bad way to get a rough gauge of their interest and their aptitude. And if you have girls who are cheerleaders already, I think they’ll appreciate the detail and realism (in terms of cheerleading routines) that went into this game.