I’m something of a connoisseur of singing and dancing games, having played and reviewed a fair few. The boys on the TXH team just don’t seem so keen on these types of games, or they just don’t want to admit it. I must confess to enjoying dancing more than singing games, for the simple fact that my singing is even worse than my dancing. But did playing Just Sing make me change my mind?
Ubisoft are well known for their Just Dance franchise, and if you have ever played one of these games, then you already know what to expect from Just Sing. Think colourful visuals, plenty of group interaction and a good range of songs from different eras and styles.
The game comes with 30 songs. 10 of these are ‘masters’, in other words, songs recorded by the actual artist. The other 20 being covers of well-known songs. This may be a disappointment to some but to be fair, the cover artists are pretty good and once you start singing your vocals over the top you won’t really be able to tell the difference.
There is a good range of songs, with something for everyone from classic hits like the karaoke classic ‘I will Survive’, to Disney songs such as the ever present ‘Let it Go’, as well as recent pop and indie hits. Add in the opportunity to buy packs of other songs from an ever-expanding streaming service and you will never be lost for a decent tune to sing along to.
There are two modes: Party and Battle. In Party mode you get to either sing by yourself or with a few friends – up to three others. Battle mode allows you to compete against one other person.
You can play along with a USB mic, but this is not essential as there is also the option of singing through your phone mic by downloading the Just Sing app. To add to the party spirit, you can also use the phone, or Xbox Kinect camera, to video yourself, which is then displayed on your TV screen. There is also the option of using one of the 12 video themes, which each offer four animated backgrounds and four filters to create your own customisable music video. Seeing yourself being attacked by monsters or with cat ears and paws are a fun touch and certainly added to the party feeling.
After creating your musical masterpiece (or not) there is the option to save your music video locally or to let it loose into the world and share it on the Just Sing YouTube page. These are also available to view through the game. Watching these are the very definition of car crash TV – you don’t want to watch the cringe-worthy attempts of others to sing and dance, and generally crucify your favourite songs, but you just can’t help it.
As with other games of the same genre you get scored on how well you match the rhythm and pitch of the song. This allows you to rack up a score in the form of stars. Garner enough stars, and you can unlock new themes.
Similar to the Just Dance games, you don’t have to be a great singer to do well. It’s more about having fun than worrying about technique. This results in a good party game but not so suitable if you want to hone your singing skills, and generally bask in the knowledge that your Xbox thinks you are a great singer. However, if you are like me, and are only one step up from being tone-deaf then this lack of electronic judgement is welcome. With Just Sing, just make sure you sing into the mic loud enough and you’ll find that it’s pretty easy to rack up the full five stars on a song.
And so with that thought, we come to the negatives of Just Sing.
The first thing, and the most annoying, was that however many times I tried configuring the audio, there was a very noticeable lag between my singing and what was coming out of the TV. How distracting is it to hear your voice coming back to you when you are on the phone to someone? Now, try and sing like this – it’s not easy or enjoyable.
It was also quite difficult to adjust the mic and TV volume correctly in order to hear both my singing and the TV audio at a suitable level. I wanted to hear my singing but not too loudly – I had to consider the feelings of the other unfortunate people in the same room as me. This was much less of a problem if I wore headphones but would not really be an option when playing with others.
The phone app was great for recording video and lip syncing along to the songs, however to actually sing through the phone was a complete miss. In order for the phone mic to pick up my singing loud enough to win any points in the game I had to hold the end of my phone right up to my mouth, resulting in my ceiling being the star of the video.
Just Sing is not for the serious singer and has a few flaws that means it’s never going to contend with other Xbox singing franchises, such as the awesome Lips. But if you are looking for a singing game to place alongside your other party games then Just Sing is a good bet – but I’ll be sticking to the dance games for now.