Typically in the video games industry gamers can't expect to see sequels until at least a year after the release of the previous version. It looks like that's out of the window though, as We Sing Encore has arrived just nine months after the first one launched on the Nintendo Wii platform. Bearing this in mind, the first question people will probably have is: does that game offer enough of an improvement to warrant the sequel? In short, the answer is yes.
The game, as expected, features a brand new selection of songs and there are now forty to choose from instead of the original's thirty. This is because ten regionally specific songs have been added to the mix, so people playing the English version can look forward to singing their hearts out to S Club 7 and The Lightning Seeds, while those playing the German edition will have bands like Reamonn and Pohlmann. All this means is that the chances of people finding songs they like increases even further, but even with the original thirty songs, there will still be more than enough to keep people entertained.
Alongside the new track listing are some new modes. Let's start off first by talking about the new solo options. The game has now added some 'singing lessons;, which aim to help people improve the consistency of their voice. They start off relatively easy by simply asking users to maintain a solo note for a specified amount of time, but the difficulty ramps up after that. There are thirty different lessons to check out and the difference between the first and last lesson is alarming. Even hardened singers might struggle to do the final lesson first time - you have been warned. It's certainly an eye opener too, but users shouldn't be put off if they feel their voice is too high or too low. The lessons, as well as the game, work on an octave system. This means that it will scale depending on the octave range of your voice. If you go off the top of the scale? It doesn't matter because it'll just wrap down to the bottom end of the scale.
There are also achievements to unlock, although they're specific to the game and aren't universal to the Wii platform in any way. They are initially very simple and can be unlocked for achieving feats such as "singing your first song", but the later ones are actually quite challenging. For example, scoring 9,000 points in every song. It helps to add a bit of replay value, especially if playing the game solo.
Moving on, the party modes are what helps this game to come alive. All of the old modes are back, but some new modes are now joining in on the action and these are Blind, Expert and Marathon. Blind adds an interesting element to the gameplay as the lyrics and music disappear randomly throughout a song. It's rather disorientating, as there's nothing to help you keep up with the beat of the song and it suddenly becomes apparent that those lyrics you thought you knew, weren't so fresh in your mind.
Taking things one-step further is Expert mode, which offers a experience akin to what the actual singers would experience. The background track has the vocals available (if the user wants), but there are absolutely no lyrical cues on screen - just the notes on the side which tell you how awful you are at the game. This one can only really be recommended to those who're die-hard singers and are up for a challenge. However, in some ways, because the background is still present, it's no harder than Blind.
The final mode, Marathon, allows players to create playlists and play all of the songs back-to-back. A mode that's recommended for those who have stamina in abundance.
All of the modes are about competing for scores, aside from the Karaoke mode, which is just for the fun of it. However, there's one slight problem with this, especially for competitive players. Without checking out the charts screen, there's no way to tell what a song's high score is. If would have been nice if the menu accommodated for showing scores when selecting a song, as having to back and forth all the time can become quite cumbersome.
With regards to the actual gameplay, not much has really changed between We Sing and We Sing Encore. Lyrics appear on the screen in time with the background song and they offer a suggested pitch. Players will then see visual indicators to show whether they hit the note, were too high or too low. There's nothing ground-breaking here at all. The major difference for this version is the inclusion of multiplier notes. These are key notes throughout a song which allow players to obtain either x5 or x10 the base points for the note. If this is a long note, like in Virtual Insanity, players can easily obtain up to 1,000 points in a single note. It helps to make the experience a lot more competitive as hitting the big notes is now as important as hitting the small ones.
Another interesting addition is the new RAPS system, which takes away the traditional presentation of lyrics. Instead, players are encouraged to perfect their timing and are given scores based on this element, as opposed to pitch. It helps to mix-up the action, although it's certainly a lot more challenging than it sounds.
From the perspective of presentation, We Sing Encore adorns a very similar visual front. The menu is instantly recognisable in almost every aspect, although it's possible to change some of the colours at least. The in-game presentation is also much the same. But, if it isn't broken, why fix it?
Despite being released a relatively short time after the original We Sing, We Sing Encore manages to bring enough to the table to warrant its arrival. There are new modes, a ton of new songs and even some singing lessons for those who want to touch up their skills. For what the game offers, including the four-player action, there isn't a better Wii game on the market.