Karaoke games are odd beasts in the same way that the latest Now! compilation is an odd beast. They work on the idea that there is some general consensus, some common thread that links the listeners / players tastes in order to present a selection of tracks in which all participants will enjoy all of the tracks. The theory goes, in the case of the Now! albums, that its audience is made up of fans of pop, ergo the track listing consists of the latest hit singles, and this school of thought has worked for their record company since the mid-80s.
The difference with Karaoke games though is that defining the tastes of a ‘game player’ as opposed to a ‘pop fan’ is much tougher, consequently games in the modern sing-a-long genre have tough decisions to make during development. They can either take the late PS2 era SingStar route and produce versions to cater to different – though still broad – crowds such as rock fans, pop fans, Bollywood fans, or they take the SingStore route of providing a base platform with which to build upon with premium downloadable content, hopefully negating the issue in the above paragraph.
We Sing Encore decides to go a different route though, a much ballsier approach. The developers at Nordic Games have chosen tracks from a relatively broad spectrum of genres and put them into one package in the hope that being so broad, so all encompassing will mean that everyone playing will find at least some tracks they love and presumably tolerate the rest, hopefully avoiding any issues caused by a lack of DLC whatsoever.
And in some ways they’ve cracked it, the track listing is full of quality tunes that will no doubt appeal to a diverse range of tastes, from parents to young adults to tweens. From Hip-Hop to rock, eighties cheese to quirky indie, the bases are covered. The track listings in games such as these are so crucial to a purchase decision for most consumers that it would be remis of me to not include it as part of the review, so the full line-up of forty tracks is as follows…
B52s – Love Shack
Black Eyed Peas – Shut Up
Bonnie Tyler – Total Eclipse Of The Heart
Cheryl Cole – Fight For This Love
Coldplay – Yellow
Elton John – Tiny Dancer
Gloria Gaynor – I Will Survive
Gwen Stefani featuring Akon – The Sweet Escape
Jamiroquai – Virtual Insanity
Jimmy Ruffin – What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted
Kaiser Chiefs – Ruby
Katrina & The Waves – Walking On Sunshine
Lady GaGa feat. Colby O’Donis & Akon – Just Dance
Lily Allen – Smile
Lou Bega – Mambo No 5
Lynyrd Skynrd – Sweet Home Alabama
Mika – Grace Kelly
Natasha Bedingfield – Unwritten
Pixie Lott – Mama Do (Uh Oh, Uh Oh)
Plain White Ts – Hey There Delilah
Right Said Fred – I’m Too Sexy
Rihanna – Umbrella
Robyn feat. Kleerup – With Every Heartbeat
Simply Red – Holding Back The Years
Soft Cell – Tainted Love
Spandau Ballet – Gold
The Supremes – Baby Love
Taio Cruz – Break Your Heart
The Veronicas – Untouched
Westlife – Flying Without Wings
Florence & The Machine – Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)
Girls Aloud – The Promise
Kasabian – Fire
Lightning Seeds – Three Lions
N-Dubz – I Need You
The Proclaimers – I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)
S Club 7 – Don’t Stop Movin’
The Saturdays – Up
Stereophonics – Dakota
Will Young – Leave Right Now
As you’ll see it’s all pop tinged but by no means is it all bubble gum. It’s the kind of stuff that you could crack out at a party, or a family function, or on Christmas Day and find something for everyone in the room.
We Sing Encore will excel in social situations in which the participants are many and uncategorisable then – like it should – and the presentation facilitates this. Menus are clean and relatively quick to navigate, even if some of the option buttons could do with being a bit chunkier. There’s a nicely tactile little rumble of the Wiimote when you hover over selections, fast loading clips helpfully jog the memory as to what is about to be played and in a stroke of genius the player’s microphones need to be shaken to advance before a song is attempted, meaning that those who are a little worse for wear won’t be caught short by a song starting without them. The hardware is sturdy and responsive, note tracking is solid and though the backing videos are low quality, they are at least official and therefore a pleasant alternative to watching your relatives massacre a Westlife “classic”.
In the long run, We Sing Encore isn’t going to blow you away and is going to be hampered by the lack of online functionality, but this isn’t a “in the long run” kind of game, this is the casualest of the casual and proud of it; it’s stocking filler, drunkware, disposable entertainment and there’s nothing particularly wrong with that.
MLG Rating: 7/10
Platform: Wii Release Date: 20/08/2010
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a physical copy of We Sing Encore plus two Logitech USB mics for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of five days on a Nintendo Wii. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.