The holiday season is starting to begin, and people will be getting together to celebrate with their families, or simply to build into the festive season with their friends. It's the perfect time for We Sing to arrive, as it's a karaoke game for the Nintendo Wii, which has a strong focus on playing with other people and having a good time. It's a competitive market though, so what does We Sing bring to the table?
Offering thirty songs from varying eras, the developers realise that not every player will like all the songs that are featured. It ranges from the more recent Lady GaGa, to classics like Duran Duran and Meatloaf, and the track list has been chosen with the hope that all players will like at least five of the songs available. It's an interesting goal and one that seems quite achievable - the songs certainly offer a wide range of vocals and it means there is likely to be a song that suits most people's vocal ranges, although this would really only affect confidence.
As with most games in the genre, players are awarded points depending on how close they are to the actual pitch of the singer. However, the game has been designed so that players can sing at any octave, as long as the pitch is correct. This means it's perfectly possible for a guy with the deepest voice to still be able to sing the female part in Barbie Girl by Aqua. As long as it's the correct pitch, it doesn't matter if it's the best performance in the world. It makes the game feel much more accessible, and it makes it more fun, as people have no excuse for under-performing on a specific song. Unfortunately, the scoring does lack some depth. Words are provided for players to sing along to, but it's entirely possible to score highly by not even singing anything. Humming is apparently perfectly acceptable as long as it's humming of the right pitch and it would have been nice to see this kind of practice penalised in some way. If it's easier to just not sing the words, players might be tempted to not bother and this, of course, goes against the spirit of the game.
While there is an option to sing solo, the majority of the game's modes must be experienced with at least one other player. There's plenty of modes to chose from, but there isn't actually that much variety between them. The first is 'Pass The Mic', which, as it suggests, involves passing a single microphone around the group - the person with the highest score for their section is crowned the winner. We Sing is slightly different, with everyone contributing to an overall score. The other modes (Team Battle and First to 5,000) all involve directly competing against other singers, or wannabe singers. These are probably the most fun modes as nothing can be blamed for a poor score aside from poor singing and it does actually inspire improvement. There is also a straight karaoke mode for players who just want to have some fun, and there is no scoring associated with this. What's great though, is that the game allows up to four people to sing at the same time, a feat not overly common in games of a similar nature.
There are three difficulties available, with easy being extremely forgiving. It's actually possible to just tap the microphone and still receive a commendable score. Hard, is very unforgiving though, but it gives players a true representation of their actual singing ability, so it's arguably most fun to play on this mode. To aid players during songs, bars appear on the screen above (or below) the words associated with them. They're all completely relative though, as there aren't 13 different positions (the number of pitches in an octave), so the variation is specific to that particular passage. Obviously knowing the songs gives people an advantage, but it does still help people completely new to the songs. Scores are displayed as the songs progress, but players are also given an indication of their performance via the bars that appear on the screen. If a player's pitch is too high, a coloured line (linked to their microphone colour) will appear above the bar, if it's too low, it'll appear below. It means that players can learn the songs if they pay attention and correct their pitch. It's much easier to do on long notes though, as some of the shorter bars are so small it's extremely difficult to actually see.
To accompany many of the tracks are their official music videos, although some of the rights couldn't be acquired, which is a shame. The on-screen graphics do their job, but there isn't really anything ground-breaking in the way they're displayed. Sometimes there are a few issues with words appearing though, especially if the passage is too long. Sometimes they just don't appear, or they wrap outside of the designated box. The menus are nice and sleek, and after a song has been performed, the game gives a nice little quip about the player's performance.
The replayability of the game is quite subjective, as it's essentially a selection of mini-games. Top scores are recorded, so for serious players, trying to always beat their own scores will provide some kind of challenge. Unfortunately, there won't be any new tracks to download either, as the Nintendo Wii's storage capacity isn't overly suited to downloading the audio and video for the respective tracks.
We Sing is a pretty standard addition to an ever growing music and rhythm genre. It does innovate by allowing four people to sing at the same time, either competitively, or co-operative, but aside from that, everything is as player's would expect. The lack of word recognition could encourage players to abuse the scoring system, but the pitch recognition does at least make it more accessible. However, with no downloadable service available, its lasting appeal has to be brought into question.