Back in the days of the original Xbox and the PlayStation 2, singing games were something of regular occurrence in my house. With four sisters I had little in the way of choice when it came to the evening game of choice – especially given that I wasn’t the oldest. Back then though, I thought nothing of picking up the naff microphone with the dodgy wire before belting out some of the finest hits of the ‘90s and ‘00s across games such as Pop Idol or the various Singstar titles that were sat atop our stacked pile of game cases.
Nowadays though, things are very different and the mere mention of singing conjures up immediate thoughts of those god-awful karaoke machines that everyone seems so keen to jump on. Nevertheless, whilst 99% of us will never quite make it as the next Rihanna or Jason Derulo, the singing games continue to make their way over to our consoles each year – so I decided to jump into the latest offering to see how much things have changed over the years.
The game in question is We Sing Pop, a game that calls on all players to bring their best voice forward. Singing games usually consist of something along the lines of just reading words as they appear on screen, whilst maintaining the right rhythm and trying to string some healthy sounding notes together in the process. Must be simple, right?
Well no, not really, but that’s only partly to do with my inability to become the next X Factor winner, as there’s one major problem that seems to be present throughout We Sing Pop that really affects the way you play. Before we get into that, let me tell you more about what the game brings its players.
From the main menu, you are immediately thrown into the rather decent selection of songs available – thirty in all – all of which are available to play from the off. Despite being tied to the Pop genre, there is a surprising amount of variety when it comes to the chosen artists. These range from some of pop’s current biggest hitters such as Ellie Goulding, Bruno Mars, Jason Derulo and Meghan Trainor, all the way to genre icons Queen and ABBA, with plenty of others thrown in as well.
Given that I had very little knowledge of where to start, I thought I’d dive in with some classics and proceeded with an attempt on Wham!’s Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.
After choosing a song, players are shifted to the song menu. Each menu is the same and acts as a basic set-up hub, with options to choose the game mode you wish to sing the song in from Single, Multiplayer and Karaoke options. There is a mode selection choice with Standard and Expert options, a Difficulty selection and Vocal options too.
These options are an interesting way of changing up how you play, but are only really there for those who are serious about a high score, as Standard mode is the usual way most will play the game. Expert on the other hand removes the note guide that is on screen to help guide your voice to the right level, as well as removing all the lyrics along the bottom of the screen, making this an option you should only choose if you know your chosen song inside out. The same goes for the difficulty options which also come with Normal and Expert choices.
Vocals is the final option on this screen and this lets you choose between Vocal or Instrumental; with Instrumental leaving all the singing to you by muting that from the official music video playing in the background.
The Single option is, as you’d expect, a purely single player experience, in which players can give their best shot at replicating their favourite song, whilst trying to achieve a high score in the process. Scores are based on how well you hit the notes, with those singing too high, too low, or missing the notes completely, unlikely to match the scores of those who nail every one.
Whilst this may not feel all too competitive, Multiplayer really helps bring out the best of the scoring system. This allows players to choose from Versus, Group Battle, We Sing or Pass the Mic, and each has something a little different to offer – Versus pitting players against each other in a one on one battle, Group Battle offering the same type of thing but with up to four players, We Sing bringing players together for a duet on any given song and Pass the Mic providing a typical party type mode with players taking over at different points in a song. Versus is by far the best of these modes however and was my preferred way of playing the game.
The final option is Karaoke, and whilst I understand the appeal that some may find from a traditional Karaoke option, the inclusion of such a game mode in We Sing Pop felt a little confusing. You see, this takes away the need to worry about scores and simply gives players what is essentially a free-play option to sing out their favourite songs without any pressure. However, in a game that already lets you do this in every other mode, an extra option to do so, without anything else to focus on, feels purely unnecessary. Nevertheless, it is of course there and anyone wanting to jump in for a little extra practice will probably be happy to see both Guided and Pure options to go along with the Karaoke mode, with Guided helping to show players just when to hit each of the songs notes.
All in all, everything is pretty much in order for We Sing Pop and it is just what you’d expect from your typical singing game. All but one thing that is.
Whilst official microphones are available for purchase with We Sing Pop, those without will be pleased to hear that any USB or Xbox compatible headset can be used to act as a mic. However, the lack of optimisation for headsets feels truly disappointing. After trying out multiple different headsets, the one major issue I had with the game became apparent – it became very clear that to ensure the game would recognise my voice properly, I needed to have the mic almost literally inside my mouth before my voice was loud enough to match the notes. No matter which headset I used, the same result occurred every time, and even though I was able to get my voice recognised by singing much louder than naturally comfortable, this is something that desperately needs to be fixed, at least if We Sing Pop hopes to keep a fanbase going forward.
Overall though and We Sing Pop is a classic entry into the singing genre, with the experience proving heavily similar to previous singing titles such as the highly popular Singstar series. However with headsets proving highly inefficient, buying into a USB microphone may be the best option for anyone wanting to dive into this pop experience.