Do you want to be a popstar diva or fancy yourself as a rockstar?
Just SING! by PQube is the very first karaoke game to be released on the Nintendo DS. Players can play solo or join up with friends to have their very own karaoke party. It’s very much like Lips and Singstar, but on the NIntendo DS. Players can choose from three modes; story, practice and multiplayer and each mode will allow players to sing to a choice of 18 different songs ranging from Lady Gaga to Amy Winehouse.
Players select a male or female avatar along with a name and there is an option to calibrate the microphone. Remember you’re singing into your Nintendo DS mic, which is very different from singing into a microphone.
Story mode is the starting grounds for your singing career and your best friend Emma informs you of a club where there is an ‘Open Mic Night’. You’re whisked away in a yellow taxi, which takes you to your first club called ‘Bar 20-24′. It’s nothing impressive as you start out nervously on a small stage area in a local club trying to look remotely interesting with your crazy and somewhat frantic dance moves.
If you’ve played any other karaoke game on the various consoles, it more or less performs in the same way, but without the use of a microphone. You have to rely on the in built mic on the Nintendo DS, which I have to say is pretty good. When you first start out in your pop career you begin with just three songs to choose from. On the top screen you’ll see your avatar dancing and singing, if somewhat strangely to your choosen song. On the upper right you will see your score and you can reach a maximum of 100,000 per song, which I never was able to reach. The bottom screen shows a series of bars which represent the singing tones and how high or low you have to hold each note, when you sing through the note, it then turns green. Lyrics are shown in bright blue when you have to sing them and a small vertical bar moves through the words in order for you to gauge the right timing. Players are merited on their tone, bar rating and bonus score, which is highlighted if you sing the gold parts of a song. Once you’ve played through the first initial songs, you’re then introduced to the main menu.
The main menu comprises of your laptop screen in which you can see your inbox, map, and avatar studio. Your inbox will be filled regularly with emails from future events, praise from your performances, meeting up with family and friends, associates and the odd spam. Everything can be deleted and filtered. I suggest you delete everything as mine got so filled up with emails, it was just plain annoying. I personally didn’t pay much attention to this due to the fact that it really was more of a distraction than anything. The map features areas where you’ll build up your performances by starring in different venues. Players will meet various characters throughout the game who will introduce them to new nightclubs and bars. These will include; Domo Lounge, Lion’s Garden, Roxy Theatre, Stage Concert Hall and National Amphitheatre. There is a nice selection of venues to choose from and you have to play a pre-selection of songs before you can move onto the next show. You’ll be singing in special birthday performances, club openings and special guesst only events, depending on how successful and talented you are. The game expects you to sing a selection of songs which are varied in genre, if somewhat limited at times. I would’ve had liked the option to select my own song during the performance instead of having to sing some songs that seriously were repetitive between performance and others I just didn’t know quite frankly.
In practice mode, you can choose which song you would like to sing to or just listen. Unfortunately Just SING! gave me no option but to sing the selected songs on offer in story mode.
The game offers players the chance to jazz up some of their popstar outfits within the ‘Avatar Studio’. In here you can change your avatar skin, hairstyles, and attire. Dressing up in different outfits is ideal if you fancy wearing something a little different, but due to the very limited choice of clothes, we’re stuck with some basic trousers, tees and jackets. I would have liked to have seen more of a selection in this area. Different hairstyles and colours are unlocked during your progress which provides some interesting styles.
During gameplay the storyline will see your avatar progress from an insecure wannabe popstar to a world famous recording artist. There are some interesting, if somewhat cheesy characters who you wouldÂ have much rather avoided than have had any encounter with. Blonde bombshells and super fake Mattel like ken’s just don’t do it for me. I’m sure the developers could have produced more believable characters.
Once you’ve played the basic gigs and worked your way up to the National Amphitheatre, you’ll be hired by B.K from ‘Take That Record Label’ who wants you to sign contracts and talk to the press. Apparently the press have heard rumours that Take That Records and Turtlegirl will conquer the world together and you celebrate with your first big performance at the National Amphitheatre.
The game offers a multiplayer mode where you can compete against your friends if they have a Nintendo DS and the Just SING! game card. Hot Seat mode lets players choose an avatar,Â choose a song and then half way through when prompted you pass the Nintendo DS to the next player. This game allows up to four players.
Players can also view the ‘Ranking’ option. This shows how well you have performed on each of the songs and how many points you have achieved. You can upload your score to an online server and see your position in the global rankings via the DS wireless communications.
Overall the game offered a nice selection of songs from Nelly Furtado to songs from Maroon 5. Singing into the Nintendo DS seemed very peculiar at first. Depending on how players have calibrated their microphone, the mic worked surprisingly well. I tried different distances to see how receptive the microphone was to the pitch and tone of my voice. Close up to the micÂ the speech bars filled up as required and proved successful, a little far away the mic had trouble picking up my voice. Karaoke singing on the Nintendo DS is definitely a little bit different, as you have to rely solely on the mic, so there was ‘no grabbing a hairbrush routine and singing like you were Jon Bon Jovi in the mirror moments’. Maybe that’s a god send in a way or is that just secretly me?. I did miss the fact that there was no physical microphone, but saying that, this would be ideal if you were sitting in the back of a car on a long journey home from somewhere and wanted a sing along alone or with friends. I guess it all depends who is in the car with you at the time. The songs produced a quite clear volume of music out of the Nintendo DS speakers and it wasn’t as tinny as I anticipated, which was good. The selection of songs and artists seemed limited, but with a good choice of up to date artists. Again, I would have liked the option to choose your own song or have one randomly generated. It did become a little repetitive at times and I found myself disliking some songs after singing them over and over again.
As a basic style karaoke game for the Nintendo DS it provides some entertaining songs with a rather flimsy storyline. Singing your hardest and trying to beat friends who have the game on the onlineÂ global leaderboard is certainly going to be competitive if you’re talented enough. This simple game aims to provide singing enjoyment on the handheld without the need for a microphone with some varied song tracks and hopefully with some forgiving neighbours.