Way back in January of 2007, Nintendo released a little old Wii game called WarioWare: Smooth Moves. Those who beat it (and that should be everyone, considering the game was only two hours long) should remember that the last minigame was a rhythm dance game requiring specific wiimote motions. It was one of the highlights of the game for me and unlike many other individual minigames, it felt like it could be expanded into a full game, one that could rival Dance Dance Revolution. At first the WiiWare game Helix looked like it could be this glorious hypothetical game but in actuality it’s not quite there.
The point of Helix is to watch a stickman-like robot do a hand movement and then, with your two wiimotes in hand, repeat it yourself. Moves range from disco points to literally “raising your hands in the air and waving them like you just don’t care”. The game advertises itself as a workout for your upper body compared to DDR’s focus on the lower body and if you really get into it you might be able to feel something. However, even with the optional calibration, some non-descript waggling will be enough able to pass as a variety of different moves. It’s nice to see games use two wiimotes and they do have a nice rhythmic pulse but I don’t plan on trying the multi-player mode which is just two people each holding one wiimote. Another problem is that you are always a beat behind the robot. This is fine on slower, lower difficulties but once things get moving you will have to look at the robot, remember the move, do it, and look at the robot again in very rapid succession.
The graphics in Helix are just to show you the dance moves and nothing more. The robot is gray and expressionless while there are nothing but dull neon swirls behind him. One of the reasons WarioWare worked was because it had you dancing with what look liked mustachioed versions of the Wiggles. It looked ridiculous and made you feel more comfortable about how ridiculous you looked while playing it. Helix just has this cold, techno feel to it and this can also be heard in music made entirely of indie techno songs. The developer, Ghostfire Games, boasted about their miraculous compression technology that allowed them to fit over 20 songs into the 43mb limit. However, what good is that if all of the songs sound the same? Perhaps this game needs the Guitar Hero Treatment so it can some good licensed music or at least a better variety of indie music. 8-bit Weapon anyone?
I still think the concept of Helix has potential but it hasn’t been realized. However, this is the developer’s first game and they are committed to make games on WiiWare. Let’s just hope that the sequel can perfect the art of making an ass of yourself.