- Format: Wii
Unleashed: 20th August
Publisher: Nordic Games
Developer: Le Cortex
Players: 1 – 4
Yes, we know; if you spend a dozen hours a week pwning n00bs in Modern Warfare 2, you’re unlikely to be interested in this game. The truth is however – whether you’re prepared to admit it or not – you like singing along to songs. It’s your dirty little secret; like the bodies under the patio.
We all know how this goes, people. Sing along to the music videos with the help of on – screen lyrics, karaoke style. The score counter and pitch bars let you know how well (or how badly) you’re doing as you warble along. The better you sing, the more points you score; simple. We Sing Encore makes an effort to make things more interesting, however.
For starters the track listing varies region to region, which is why we’ve pointed out that we’re reviewing the UK release. Ten of the forty tracks are region exclusive and, ignoring the fact that the UK encompasses four countries, one of those songs is England football fan favourite Three Lions. For non – UK readers who don’t know anything about the track: It’s a song with an embarrassing lack of irony, celebrating blind optimism in the face of three decades of failure and disappointment (currently four decades and counting).
Mind you, David Baddiel is so off key, missing his notes is a damn compliment.
The song selection as a whole is somewhat eclectic. This means that there will definitely be a bunch of tracks you’ll love singing your heart out to – but it may also mean that there are a few you’d never dirty your vocal chords with. How much of a crossover can there be, for example, between the fanbases of Kaiser Chiefs and S Club 7?
We’re not out to bash this game needlessly, however. Le Cortex has really put in the effort to make this more than standard karaoke. Yes you can go it alone and, when there’s more than one singer, you can choose the singer(s) you want to sing as; or perform a duet with somebody. At last, you and your best mate can act out that dream of being The Proclaimers (offensively poor Scottish accent optional). We Sing Encore also offers the option of turning karaoke into a competitive sport, however. Now there’s an idea; wouldn’t it have worked out better for everybody if, rather than invading Iraq, Bush Jr had simply challenged Saddam Hussein to a competitive sing – off of Total Eclipse of the Heart?
‘Versus’ or ‘Group Battle’ sees 1v1, 3v1, or 2v2 karaoke where it’s simply a case of seeing who sang well enough to score the most points at the end of the song. ‘First to X’ sees up to four people scoring individually. The first to have sung well enough to reach 5000 points wins. There’s also the self explanatory ‘Pass the Mic’, ‘Marathon’ (scores are averaged across a playlist), ‘Blind’ where on – screen lyrics and sound can suddenly disappear in the middle of the song, and ‘Expert’ with no pitch bars or lyrics to guide you.
Now, you may have noticed that this game allows those of you who really hate your neighbours to have four people singing at once. ASBOtastic! This is one of the main bullet points for the We Sing games and indeed, no other karaoke game currently offers the same feature. The Wii has only two USB ports but all you need for four players, is a four port USB hub and a few extra USB microphones. Poundland it is, then.
We did notice that this game seems a little more generous when it comes to matching the original voice than most games of this ilk. Make no mistake, singing a song on ‘Hard’ still requires you to actually sing properly. On ‘Easy’ however, even the most tone deaf imbecile will find themselves scoring thousands rather than hundreds of points. Hell, apparently Luke hit well over 50% of the notes on his first attempt at ‘Virtual Insanity’ despite singing so badly he achieved a killstreak of 7. The box carries a PEGI warning for violence; perhaps this refers to the possibility of neighbours breaking your door down and beating you to death with your own microphone.
There are also ‘singing lessons’ included in the package for those of you who sound worse than Cheryl Cole with her microphone switched on. There are 30 lessons which centre around the Solfege scale (Fa So La, etc.). If you stick at them they can actually prove useful, if only to help you quickly switch between subtle differences in the scale. You still might not be able to switch between those subtle differences in tune, but you’ll feel more confident whilst not doing so.
If/when you can stand the sound of your own singing voice, you can replay your performance immediately after the end of each song. Sadly/thankfully, you can’t save any performances – once you go back to song selection, it’s lost forever. It also needs to be said that unless you were singing at a distinctly antisocial volume, you’ll have trouble hearing your voice over the original vocalist – even after fiddling with the settings.
In case you were wondering, yes, We Sing Encore allows you to do what some karaoke games puzzlingly don’t – simply sit back and watch the music videos. The only two songs without original music videos are Sweet Home Alabama and What Becomes of the Brokenhearted, though they have placeholder visuals. Head over to ‘Jukebox’ and you can enjoy the music/provocatively dressed women (delete as appropriate) without being asked to embarrass yourself.
At least in part due to limitations imposed by the Wii hardware and Nintendo’s poor online features, this is a 100% offline game. No downloading extra songs or sharing your tuneless screaming. However, if you’re the sort of person who hosts karaoke parties (shudder) then one USB hub and a few extra microphones later, We Sing Encore is the perfect package for you.