Having already warmed up your vocal chords earlier in the year with SiNG Party, Nintendo now further extend the Wii U’s karaoke offering – perfectly timed alongside The X Factor returning to Saturday night primetime TV, and inspiring the rest of the nation to step up to the mic to warble their way through the weekend.
And a surprisingly comprehensive experience it is, with Wii Karaoke U by JOYSOUND rivalling and partly surpassing competitor products on the market. Which is remarkable when you step back to consider the game’s freemium design, users purchasing either a 1-hour, 24-hour or 30-day ticket, costing you £1.79, £4.49 or £13.49 respectively. That’s not to say that you even need to purchase a ticket to delve into the game, with players still being able to browse through the song archive to see what’s available.
That catalogue is extensive, and searchable through either tapping in the artist’s name or the song title itself. Maroon 5, Lady Gaga, Take That, Muse and Elton John are all there, even Disney tracks, whilst we similarly find some glaring omissions such as Katy Perry. If you’re looking for inspiration then seasonal playlists will provide ideas, with Halloween Songs currently appearing on the game’s main menu, whilst a frequent Bulletin keeps you updated with the most recent additions to the song library – October adding tracks from Madonna, Sex Pistols, Kasabian, Taylor Swift and Keane, among others.
The differentiator here is that whatever your choice, your vocal performance isn’t accompanied by the song’s official video and instead sees you taking your cue from a MIDI backing track. The lack of such visual delights shouldn’t be entirely mourned, being replaced by your Mii character bopping around on a virtual stage in all manner of costumes. It also opens the door to a range of other options, the player able to alter the song’s key to suit the pitch range of their voice and change the tempo to either speed up or slow down the pace.
It’s worth noting that you don’t need a USB Microphone to play either, the Wii U GamePad’s built-in mic substituting the need for purchasing such an additional peripheral if you don’t own one. Regardless of whichever your choice of input, everyone can get involved with Karaoke Battle seeing two teams challenging one another to achieve the highest score, with the option of using Wii Remotes to play backing instrument sounds.
An in-depth rating system sees you awarded an overall score based on your accuracy across melody, timing, smoothness, and technique parameters, with additional points up for grabs for your vibrato and glissando qualities. It’s during the songs themselves that you will wish for a little more guidance, even the specific Melody Guide backdrop not even proving helpful enough to steer your pitching in the right direction.
You’re also free to create your own stage by muddling together items through a surprisingly detailed design tool, selecting from the arena, festival, or club locations, whilst you’re actively encouraged to engage with the Miiverse community by sharing screenshots of your vocal efforts.
With Nintendo distributing one-hour free trial tickets, you shouldn’t be afraid to at least take a gander at what Wii Karaoke U by JOYSOUND has to offer. It may not be perfection by any means, but the game’s unique ticket-based approach could easily see it become the go-to karaoke title for any occasion.