I’m pretty sure that many music fans in the UK will have owned at least one of the NOW That’s What I Call Music volumes over the last few decades. Singing into your hairbrush along to the latest pop hits was a teenage ritual for many. Now, this iconic brand has released its own version of a karaoke singing game. So put down the hairbrush, pick up a microphone and let’s get singing.
NOW That’s What I Call Sing! comes with a good collection of 30 recent hits including Uptown Funk, Moves Like Jagger and All About That Bass. Great if you like popular music, but there’s no other option if you don’t. There is a nice mixture of pace though with a few slow songs mixed in with the top dance hits. However, there is no option to buy new songs, which is something that is lacking compared to other karaoke games, especially one of my favourites from a few years back, Lips on Xbox 360.
After choosing your song from the main menu, the music video will start up. As you progress through the song, the lyrics appear on screen along with white bars which vary in height and length, corresponding to the pitch of the note you need to hit and how long you have to sustain it for. Occasionally a gold bar will also appear, hit this and you earn extra points. The bars fill up with colour to show how close you are to perfection. The majority of the songs in the game are sung by female singers but if you struggle to reach the high notes, you can sing an octave lower and as long as you are in tune you will be rewarded with points as well as a congratulatory OK, good or perfect (or an oops if you are way off). At the end of each song you are shown your total points along with any achievements you collected such as hitting all the gold bars in the song. Singing well will also earn you VoxPoints which enable you to unlock new game modes.
The highest score achieved on each song is displayed on the menu screen and trying to beat this gives you a bit of an incentive to do better next time.
The game comes with a USB microphone, but there is the option to use a maximum of four should you have any spare sitting around in a drawer. They plug into the USB ports on your Xbox which does limit the distance you can be from the console and occasionally sees singers tied up in knots once the party really gets going. Their lack of wireless ability is the least of your problems however, as they just don’t work particularly well. You can change the volume of the microphones and turn the lyrics off in the settings but despite increasing the volume, to hear myself through the television (and hit the notes), I still had to shout pretty loudly with the microphone so close to my mouth that a wipe down was in order before someone else had a go. Then there’s the slight lag and the distortion. I could go on but I think you get the picture. Whether this is an issue with my mics or not, I’m unsure, but would recommend trying other microphones if you have the option as this ruined the game for me.
There are a total of seven game modes to play on each song. In ‘Classic’ you can sing by yourself or with a friend. ‘Pass the mic’ is a duet mode where you play with a partner using one mic. During play, a signal will tell you when to hand over the mic to the next singer. Playing these modes and racking up points will enable you to unlock others (or you can spend your VoxPoints). ‘By Heart’ is just like ‘Classic’ mode but some of the lyrics will disappear during the round and in ‘Expert’ there are no lyrics or bars at all. By playing this mode you can score big points…as long as you are good enough of course! Other multiplayer modes include ‘20,000’ where you play against your friends with the first to 20,000 points winning the bragging rights. If you are feeling even more competitive, in the ‘Elimination’ mode each player starts with a full bar of energy which depletes with every bum note. If you lose all your energy, you’re out and the last player standing wins. Be warned though, ‘Elimination’ is super tough with my maximum sing through in this mode only ever managing to last 30 seconds or so.
The game also has a jukebox mode which allows you to listen to the songs and watch the videos without singing along. I don’t quite see the point of this though. If you love the song, play it on the game; if you love watching music videos, then it’s probably best to switch on YouTube or MTV.
NOW That’s What I Call Sing! has some nice features, the range of game modes are impressive and allow for a bit of competitive nature when playing with friends. The songs are all popular recent hits but the option of buying extra songs would be a welcome addition as you would soon tire of the 30 on offer. There are some improvements to be made but with this the only real karaoke option on Xbox One, if you want to sing this is the only choice you have…for NOW.