I love to sing. As a music theatre veteran I take any opportunity I can to belt out a tune. When I was a child I would drive my parents mad, blaring music from the likes of Whitney Houston to The Bangles while singing away into my hairbrush. I am that annoying girl, the one who will not give up the microphone in Rock Band, insisting on just one more turn. Because of my love of singing I consider myself to be somewhat of a music/rhythm game aficionado, and I am particularly fond of karaoke games. When I heard that SiNG Party would be a part of the Wii U’s launch line up, I was quite eager to try it out, imagining a game that took full advantage of the GamePad in new and innovative ways for the genre; and considering it is developed by FreeStyle Games, best known for their work on the DJ Hero franchise, I was optimistic that this would rival some of the best rhythm games out there.
Since the name of the game is “Sing Party”, I invited a few of my preteen daughter’s friends over to play to help me with this review and to fully experience what this title has to offer. Once the game was setup and synced we were ready to rock! There are three game modes to play including Sing mode, Party Mode and Team Mode. There are 50 licensed tracks to choose from, ranging from Frank Sinatra to Justin Bieber, so there is something to appeal to all music tastes. You can browse through the song menu with a swipe of your finger on the GamePad’s screen.
Starting out with Sing Mode, and much to my daughter’s dismay, I sang an embarrassing rendition of Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now”. The lyrics streamed across the TV screen, along with a pitch meter, much like the vocal track in Rock Band. Your performance earns points for pitch, power and flair, the result being a final star rating of up to 5 stars. You can sing solo or as a duet as you can connect two USB microphones to the Wii U, including the Xbox 360 Rock Band mic as we pleasantly discovered. Two other players can use Wii Remotes and play them as maracas.
When playing Sing Mode you can use the GamePad to add songs to the playlist (the girls thought it was hilarious for me to keep adding a Nickelback for me to sing!) and mix the songs instrumentals, mic volume, etc. Strangely, Sing Mode is the only mode in which you can turn off the song’s vocal track, and this is not an option in every song, which is quite odd considering that it is standard in karaoke. There is a “jam” option, in which you tap the screen in rhythm to the beat adding some kind of percussion, but it just sounded strange and really added nothing to the game.
Sing Mode offers points for you to earn which allows you to level up and unlock awards such as sing three songs that start with the letter D…..for absolutely no purpose. There is only one difficulty level, all of the songs are already unlocked, and so there is really no incentive to excel. After only a few songs it grew very tiresome. One of my daughter’s friends even said “This is kinda boring Hannah’s Mom, can we play Mario now?”
Moving on to Party Mode, my daughter took her place in the spotlight. Using the GamePad and microphone, she sang along with the lyrics on the GamePad screen while her friends followed the cues on the TV screen. They were prompted to dance along with the cartoon on screen, clap their hands with the beat, and even make a heart shape with their hands, which I found strange. It seems rather confusing at times, and there was no way to track your dancing, so really you could just stand there. It made no impact on the game at all. I could tell that the girls felt foolish, as they just stood there most of the time, half-heartedly singing along. It is all in what you put into I suppose, but this mode certainly was not a crowd pleaser at all.
Playing Team Mode was the most fun we had with the game. Splitting into two teams and competing against each other in solo play, choir (the entire group sings along) and relay (each team sings a small part of the song, then passes it on). There were a few giggles, especially when singing as a group.
After playing for quite some time, they girls grew tired of the limited song list and game modes. With my daughter exclaiming “Mooooooooom, please don’t make us play this anymore, it’s not very fun at all!” and her friends begging to go home, we had enough. I shared their boredom and disappointment. I was left rather dissatisfied with what this game had to offer. While the interface was quite smooth, the touchscreen very responsive, and the few features available worked quite well, I felt that the game was pretty bare bones and could have made better use of the Wii U’s GamePad. The lack of online features was also rather disappointing. Even a leaderboard of some sort would have been a welcome addition. We have been spoiled by other music/rhythm games, and we have come to expect a rich, competitive experience, so it’s very disappointing to play something as mediocre as this.
If you are looking for a fun party game to play on your new Wii U, this is not it. SiNG Party serves its purpose as a functional, no frills karaoke game, that could be fun with a large group of people. That being said, without any online features, and only a few game modes that are tiresome and confusing at times, the fun fades fast, and there really is not any lasting appeal.