Prepare to exercise your vocal chords once more, as the Wii U receives its debut karaoke offering in the form of SiNG Party.
The Wii had been no stranger to the genre, Nordic Games and Konami delivering regular entries within their respective We Sing and Karaoke Revolution franchises, although with the Wii U GamePad now in hand Nintendo seek to achieve something entirely different.
It’s FreeStyleGames expertise that they turn to, the ex-DJ Hero developer ditching their decks to step up to the mic. And their efforts are to be largely commended, even if the game falls short in certain areas.
It’s the central “Party Mode” that Nintendo has inevitably placed emphasis on through marketing the game. Designed foremost as a crowd pleaser, it sees one player wielding the mic whilst using the Wii U GamePad as a portable karaoke prompter of sorts. Not necessarily revolutionary in itself, but such simplistic alteration effortlessly transitions sole attention away from your television and directly to those listening to your vocal attempts.
This is simply about enjoying the entire experience, with scoring removed entirely. Other players can join in through following the actions of an on-screen avatar, singing choruses once cued, clapping and dancing along to their favourite tracks.
Sing Mode makes things more competitive, seeing players awarded a star rating based on their vocal accuracy, power and flair. Pitch pertains to your tuning, requiring you to keep your pitch within the marked guidelines on-screen and becoming coloured when you’re safely sat inside it.
Power relates to volume, your on-screen vocal trail thinning if you’re singing quietly and broadening when you give it full welly. With a quarter of your final score dependent on this, you’ll want to keep your lungs readily filled! Meanwhile, Flair covers your vocal dexterity and ability to improvise within freestyle sections.
Sing Mode itself can be played entirely solo, as a duet with either the game or another player, or within a harmony duet, granting plenty of variety in approach.
Within this mode, the Wii U GamePad’s role alternates to numerous functions, with players able to create playlists of tracks, rhythmically jam along to the music, or use a mixer to alter the song levels, microphone volume, or add reverb.
There’s a separate Team Mode too, for when you have larger groups wanting to join in. Snapping a team photo and giving your self a team name is your first port of call, before choosing the number of rounds you’d like to play. Beyond here, you then have access to three different game types: Choir, where everyone on your team sings into the Wii U GamePad to score; Relay, in which you’ll sing a section of a song before passing the mic onto a teammate; and Spotlight, where team members take turns to perform solo.
After each round, a designated spectator is able to award bonus points to the team they enjoyed most, sometimes asked for their opinions on other aspects of the performances as well. This is done in secret, meaning that the teams don’t necessarily know who is leading at any given moment.
A tiered Awards system provides direction to your otherwise casual karaoke experience, initially tasking you with getting five stars, singing 3 songs, and wailing through three songs by male artists. Completion of any challenge immediately replaces it with another, whilst rewarding the player with a disc – the collection of which sees you level through SiNG Party‘s ranks.
Those wishing to keep track of how they’re faring against other player’s vocal ability will appreciate the inclusion of a high-score tracker. Yet sadly this is local rather than globally online, although scores can be shared through Miiverse of course.
Whilst the tracklist, which spreads itself between the 60’s through to present, has been exceptionally well considered, a lack of official music videos to accompany them proves a surprise. Not necessarily a criticism, but with the majority of games within the genre offering them it’s a little perplexing to see yourself left with the replacement – rolling mountain ranges, intergalactic vistas, and neon instruments.
Sadly, as is the case with most in the genre, there just isn’t enough to maintain your interest for extended periods of time. Perhaps more problematic is that, other than the utilisation of the Wii U GamePad, there isn’t enough to differentiate SiNG Party from competitors.
In SiNG Party, FreeStyleGames has positioned a solid foundation that successfully thinks outside the box in approaching the unique hardware capabilities. However, if it’s the beginning of a new franchise that Nintendo wish to grow, there’s still room for improvement.