As I picked up the microphone and tried to muster the nerve to start singing, I realized how infrequently I’m embarrassed these days. Stood in our lounge in front of the Wii I felt very silly indeed. The fact that there was only my wife in the room didn’t seem to make a big difference – my body clearly didn’t want me to do this.
Ignoring the nerves, I stumbled my way through a few songs and my reservations began to fall away. The instrument of this torture was Sing It, the new karaoke game featuring the recent Disney musicals (High School Musical and the like). As I played, my other half was impressed with the way the game could tell if I was singing on pitch – so much so that we were soon taking turns on the microphone trying to beat each other’s scores.
By the end of the evening (we ended up playing for a good few hours) we had sung our way through a good chunk of the songs, and had a good laugh at ourselves along the way. We both agreed that we needed to have more silly time together – just hanging out – and that SIng It had been a great way to get past our British reserve.
So this week, I thought I’d share my parent’s guide run down of what makes this game tick.
Sing It is a singing game aimed at younger players. It is built around the success of Disney’s key sing-along assets such as High School Musical, Camp Rock and of course Hanna Montana. Players Sing It their way, either solo or in duet, through 35 of these songs.
This reflects the popularity of Karaoke and is part of a trend that sees singing experiences spilling over into video games. Whether it was singing on your own in Singstar PS3 or accompanying a band in Rockband 360 or Guitar Hero: World Tour 360 games benefited from the casual interaction of microphone and voice – so different from the daunting joypad controllers.
What Sort of Game is This?
Rhythm action games combine the enjoyment that comes from creating music with the challenge of video game scoring. The player is usually tasked with dancing on a mat, tapping a touch screen, pressing a button, singing into a mic or strumming a fake guitar controller in time with the music.
What Does This Game Add to the Genre?
Sing It is unique because of its library of Disney music and musicals. It provides a strong sing-along video game experience, backed by video, music and songs from many must see shows for children today (High School Musical and its kindred).
As with other video karaoke games, you score points for singing into the provided microphone in time and on pitch with a chosen song. As the song plays, the word and pitch is shown on screen. As you sing you vocal pitch is then matched to the target notes. Stay on key for long enough and yo start to build up bonus points through a multiplayer. Perform really well and you can acquire Good, Great and Perfect awards.
For each song you can choose which part (lead, harmony, cast etc) to sing and the difficulty. Harder levels are less forgiving on slightly off notes and expect the singer to be pitch perfect. You can also opt to sing alone, in duet or competitively against other players (provided you have a spare microphone). Although competitive signing sounds like an odd idea it actually works really well and gives players more reasons to re-sing their favorite songs.
What do People Play this Game To Experience?
Players are attracted to the game because of its songs. Getting together with a bunch of peers to blast out those favorite Disney musical hits can create some special evenings. Songs that form the backdrop to younger years, as Grease did for previous generations, are leveraged to get everyone singing. Other, perhaps older, gamers may be less enthusiastic but given time they can also be drawn in by this unusual activity for us these days – singing out loud in front of people.
Playing this the other night, I was joined by my wife who surprised me by wanted to join in the singing. Once we had managed to get used to singing out loud in the living room, we had a great couple of hours taking turns on the mic trying to best each other’s score (and I enjoyed hearing my other half’s soulful voice). So much so in fact that we had trouble stopping – this just one more song playability extended our session into the small hours.
How Much Free Time is Required to Play It?
The songs are usually around four minutes a pop. With a bit of vocal warm up before hand and post-sing analysis afterward you can sign four or five songs in an hour. As we said above though, the just one more go nature of the game means that it is hard to keep these sessions any shorter – but then if time permits why would you?
Unlike Singstar PS3 or Rockband 360 you cannot buy additional songs for Sing It online. Disney’s approach seems to be to charge a little less for the game and then sell new disc s with different songs. The 35 songs here should be enough to keep most songsters happy for many hours. Add in the different vocal parts to learn as well as the difficulty settings and you should easily have twenty hours of play time here.
What Factors Impact on Suitability for Novice/Expert Young/Old Players?
The nature of the game makes it ideal for any age to play. Even young players can soon learn the songs (if they have not already been Disney-fied). The simple colour coding that indicates when you are on the right note enables children and novice players to easily see how they are doing.
Intermediates may take a little while to get past their inhibitions. Once they do throw caution to the wind (perhaps with the aid of some Dutch courage) there is often not stopping them. To do well on the songs you really need to get in character and sing them with everything you have got. Even less exhibitionist players should find the experience accessible enough to play with their friends.
Expert players may balk at the Disney branding and musical songs. But the play mechanic here is as tight as Rockband 360 or Singstar PS3 – and just as much fun. The simple act of controlling a video game with your voice is quite often magical. The degree of control and range of sounds and pauses required to score top marks will call upon the best of any player.
WIRED SIng along we should all (admit we) like.
TIRED No music store.
Price/maker: $59.99 (Wii with Mic)