A Karaoke game for the Wii U.
The first few months of a new console are always a tense affair. Early adopters are waiting for justification of their purchase, and those who don’t own the console are holding out until they have a reason to part with their hard earned cash. Unfortunately, the latest title published by Nintendo for their new console will neither provide justification or reason, and frankly has been released at the worst possible time. Welcome to SiNG Party.
Karaoke-style games did really well on the Wii, even becoming the most compelling reason to buy the console for many party-goers who wanted to dip their toes into gaming. It makes sense therefore that Nintendo would want to encourage the same sort of feelings for their new Wii U console, especially given that it is trying to be all things to all people – a console that embraces both casual and hardcore gaming in equal quantities. And, let’s be honest, Nintendo must have made a conscious decision to try and release a singing game for the Wii U before the competition. So, kudos to Nintendo for offering the first Karaoke-style party game for the Wii U.
Which would have been a big deal had the game been released before, or even during, the festive party season. Releasing the game after the season had finished was really not the best move. A game like this would have shifted volumes had it been released in the run up to Christmas, no matter what the game was actually like. Sure, it can now take advantage of the post-Christmas videogame drought, but frankly the type of gamers that would pick this game up are probably now in hibernation until the weather changes.
Anyway, let’s move on from the questionable release date and actually look at the game. SiNG Party is a karaoke-style game with fifty crowd pleasing songs and comes packaged with a USB microphone. The play list is almost exactly what you would expect in a game that seems to be trying to please everyone, including popular songs from the 60s right up to the present day. Whilst this may result in only a small number of songs that actually appeal to any one player, unless they have the broadest musical taste, the promise of songs being available to download through the eShop should build on the collection.
SiNG Party comes with three different modes; Sing Mode, Team Mode and Party Mode. Sing Mode is perhaps what most people would expect from a singing game, challenging the player to warble to their hearts content with the lyrics being displayed on the TV screen, whilst being scored for hitting the pitch line. The player is encouraged to keep singing with the inclusion of awards to aim for, and a second player can join in the fun if they happen to bring a second microphone with them. It is all pretty standard stuff and SiNG Party pulls it off with some competency.
The Wii U GamePad makes itself known in Sing Mode by being handed to a non-singer in the room, allowing them to play around with the playlist, add some percussion through some well timed tapping, or even choosing a winner when two players are competing. It is not the most imaginative use of the GamePad, but at least it includes any spectator whilst they wait for their turn to sing.
A more interesting use of the GamePad comes in the other two modes. In Team Mode, which splits the players into teams and has them compete in various events that may have the team all singing together, singing one at a time or passing the microphone between them, the lyrics are actually displayed on the GamePad. This works really well within the mode, as the players can actually face their audience rather than forcing them to stare at the TV screen. The mode itself is quite good fun, but is limited in its options. In a party atmosphere though, this is perhaps the best mode to aim for.
Which is confusing, as Party mode should be the target for parties. Once again, the player will be able to read the lyrics from the GamePad screen whilst performing to the crowd. This mode includes no scoring and will have the player trying to encourage the crowd, whilst the crowd themselves are also encouraged to pull some dance moves for some reason. To be honest, it is all a little bit cringey and rather pointless.
All in all, the game feels a little lacking. Visually, the game looks as you would expect, bright and colourful with an abundance of neon. The fact that the music videos for the songs have been left out is a bit of a disappointment. Otherwise, SiNG Party seems to tick most of the boxes that you would expect.
Once the party animals come out of hibernation and Nintendo start pumping out the new songs via the eShop (providing they are sensibly priced and suitably varied), then I am sure that SiNG Party will find its market and become a favorite amongst the Wii U owners (depending on what other titles are released in the meantime). But right now, in the dark, cold depths of January, partying with a casual singing game is probably the last thing anyone wants to do, and SiNG Party does nothing to change that. It is a perfectly serviceable singing game with nothing to make it really stand out. Pick it up if you really have to sing right now.