It’s rare that a game trailer excites me. I like to believe I’ve developed a resistance to the siren call of trailer-based marketing strategies. But the moment I saw the trailer for Bollywood Wannabe, I knew I had to play it. I immediately downloaded the demo and was not disappointed. Now that I’ve played through full experience—five times no less—I can say with certainty this is one of the most entertaining games I’ve played in recent memory.
Bollywood Wannabe is a rhythm action game that follows the story of a down-and-out director who dreams of filming a Bollywood version of Romeo and Juliet, along with the two are actors he’s conned into starring in the film. For those who aren’t aware: Bollywood is Bombay’s version of Hollywood, and is primarily famous for it’s prolific output of musical films in which hordes of strangers start dancing with the stars for no apparent reason.
Bollywood Wannabe takes this theme and builds it into a musical adventure that has you controlling one of the two actors as they dance their way from one end of a level to the other. It works like your standard rhythm game: a song plays and you have to hit the right beats at the right time. The difference here is that you’re generating dance moves using the arrow keys instead of playing an instrument. Each key executes a different move, but it doesn’t matter which one you press, as long as you time it right.
This gives you the ability to choreograph the dance to your liking, with some caveats. The game keeps track of the last sixteen button presses, as four groups of four. If you use the same move three times in a group of four, that group is cancelled. The group is also cancelled if you repeat a four-key pattern within the set of sixteen. I don’t know what the end result of these penalties are, exactly—the game doesn’t explain, but I suspect that it affects how quickly your performance meter fills up—but it adds a layer of strategy and thought to the game. If you don’t want to bother with that hassle you can play in one-button mode, which is much less complicated but just as entertaining.
The performance meter fills a little whenever you hit a beat properly, and every time it maxes out a random character will join you as a backup dancer. More dancers means more points and reflects a better performance, which is a nice visual way to see how well you’re doing. Each stage also contains six secret characters, who are discovered by maxing the bar while standing in the right location. This provides a bit of incentive for anyone who needs extra motivation to replay levels.
There are some platforming elements to deal with as well. While you’re dancing through the scene, your character will have to traverse to the other side of the level, using the W, A, and D keys. You’ll be doing a fair bit of jumping and dropping in order to get past obstacles, but it’s nothing that will challenge your dexterity. It’s not overly simple, either, because you can’t perform a dance move while in the air, so timing your jumps and drops is important if you don’t want to miss a beat.
The music is solid, licensed from a variety of popular Indian musical performers. All the songs are dance-worthy to the point that I was dancing in my chair while playing. I also caught myself singing them during the quieter moments of my day, so they’re catchy as well. Unfortunately, there are only ten in total—one for each level—and you can complete the entire game in less than an hour as a result. Replay value is contained in the number of unlockables including: concept art, extra playable characters, and at least five multiple endings that can only be achieved by playing through the story mode on different difficulty/button mode settings.
The only downside is the lack of any controller support. You can fake it with Joy2Key or XPadder, but native support would be nice. I also experienced issues with the automatic updater not working as well as fatal crashes upon completion of the story mode. The developer quickly fixed these problems when we reported them, however. And by “quickly” I mean we sent them a report in the morning, and they were fixed by the end of the day. Now that’s support.
Conclusion—Is It Worth The Money?
Bollywood Wannabe costs a whopping $15 which is quite high for an indie game these days, but it is worth absolutely every penny. It’s one of those rare games that brought a smile to my face and joy to my life, without requiring me to violently end a single virtual life to boot. Do yourself a favor and pick it up.