Robbie Williams as a Mii is quite a portly waddling chap. You will though know immediately that is him as soon as he saunters on screen. He is after all a brand and an image that is known worldwide, and no amount of terrorizing Mii visuals can detract from that. So anyway, on wobbles the wandering warbler, and he simply gawps at the screen and almost surprisingly says –
“Hello and welcome to We Sing Robbie Williams. Ta ra!”
You can almost see the virtual money bag being carried off behind him and to feel like you have maybe spent too much on the first ever Robbie Williams singing game is totally justified. However don’t worry because the little gremlin version of RW makes up only a small part of how this Nordic Games release warrants its existence as a full title discharge.
We Sing Robbie Williams is essentially a song pack, an impressive song pack, but one none the less, and I wonder if Robbie Williams is worth all the fuss. To be fair though to the guy he has amassed an impressive 20 years in the music industry and there is no denying that the 25 songs chosen in the We Sing package are all pretty good tunes to sing along to. They are songs that span the strange diversity of the artist, verging from swing, to mild hip-hop to the gargantuan ballads like ‘Angels’. This is the wide appeal of Robbie Williams and maybe case in point why a simple delivery of DLC through the pipe isn’t worthy of the music and its expansive interest.
Whatever though you interest in Robbie Williams might be Nordic Games have put a fair amount of effort in to providing something that is worth picking up off the shelf rather than just selecting in a virtual store. The title itself works similarly to most other singing/karaoke sims. You pick a song from the menu and using the microphones provided you follow along with the song singing the lyrics when they illuminate. It is the simplest of concepts and works well at home as you don’t have to trudge through the mire of useless drunks to enjoy a bit or karaoke. The main difference other than the smell and the embarrassment of usual karaoke is that We Sing makes things a little more fairly competitive. Whereas on a night out one persons singing could be easily out matched by the appreciation shown to the guy stripping to Tom Jones, with We Sing competition is equally judged.
It is not an exact science by any means but the USB microphones that you can get bundled with a pricier version of WSRW acts as a tuning gauge for your dulcet tones and essentially works out if you’re on key or violently off. The more notes you hit correctly the more points you score and you can either go up against one of your high scores or battle out your best renditions against up to three other vocalists. There is of course a certain degree of tolerance that the game gives you in order to make your way through a couple of early dodgy moments, but if you want a true challenge then you can choose the difficulty that’ll suit you best.
Even on easy though WSRW is a reasonably difficult singing title, anyone who has tried to hit the crescendo on ‘Angels’ knows the surprising variety of Robbie’s voice, which is deftly highlighted in the songs chosen. There is nothing to worry about though if you cannot quite pitch the right tune or searching for the right note leaves you stranded because there is plenty in the inclusion of WSRW that aims to make even the worst singers enjoy attending.
WSRW boasts eight different party modes as well as the standard Solo mode as well, but it is really for the party that this game is channelled for. You can either Group Battle, have a Head to Head showdown or play Blind as words and music disappear at random points during a song. This is arguably when WSRW is at its best, when surrounded by jovial jongleurs wanting to kill a few hours with a few bottles of lemonade. It is anyone in that mood that will be able to look past what is otherwise quite a standard sim of a guy who looks like he is just cashing in the money.
What bothers me the most is that this game is that it has to sit on my shelf. It has to rest alongside other games and other We Sing titles. When I fancy singing a bit of Robbie I have to make such a big gesture to commit to it, I can’t just add the music to an already mixed and populated list. The exclusivity of its range is at time well suited for the karaoke experience but sometimes after one or two songs enough can be enough. We Sing games thrive on variety of styles and tastes which is why downloadable content is much preferred over a limited disc release.
That is not to say that WSRW doesn’t vary in style because it does, but when his live version of ‘Somewhere Beyond the Sea’ includes musical adlibs the exercise becomes all most monstrous and being marked down performing something not intended by the artist tends to cheapen the product slightly. What also embitters the situation more is the juxtaposition between the Robbie that is glorified on screen in the multitude of well made videos to the one included to guide you through his game. When singing his songs he looks nothing more than a man impassioned by his music and indeed it is hard not to enjoy singing along when seeing the artist themselves putting so much adoration into three minutes of work. On the other hand though if all Robbie can be bothered to say when you get a good score on the game is,
“I could hear your soul”
It sends shivers through your spine.
To be fair though he could have done less, but it would have been nice to see him feature more in the game and deliver some of the lessons featured in the game to help you learn to sing. Though even the singing lessons feature ends up feeling like a tacked on addition to make the full release price seem worthwhile. As a piece of musical tuition it is truly un-encouraging as you are left to find the notes yourself and there isn’t even a demo run through of the notes you are meant to hit, so if you are truly tone deaf you’ll find no benefit in this at all.
It doesn’t help also that the microphones provided with the game also feel like they struggle to justify their worth. No one expects them to be high quality but when you struggle to hear you own voice when listening back to the WSRW’s replay mode then there is a problem. And even if you do get to nuzzle amongst your tones even the best singers end up sounding like heads trapped within a swarm of bees.
WSRW really struggles to justify its own existence. Technically it works fine and all the pieces are in place for a successful singing title. The songs are a great addition to a successful series and are at times a real gift to perform. What deflates the ego somewhat is the desperate cash-ins and attempts to make the game worth the money it is priced at. In some ways for the dedicated fan this will feel worth it, for the singer wanting to expand their collection of songs it is another signal at the technical limitations of the service provided by the Wii.
MLG Rating: 6/10
Platform: Wii Release Date: 12/11/2010
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a physical copy of We Sing Robbie Williams for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of four days on a Wii.