For a lot of people, the idea of karaoke is both terrifying and utter delight in the same sentiment. On the one hand, you have to go up and sing your heart out, without backup, to a non-vocal version of a song that everyone probably knows. People will judge you, maybe you’re as bad as you think you are, and, worst of all, people might actively boo you for ruining Love Shack. But, on the other hand, you’re probably in the company of friends who’ll cheer you on no matter what, and, who knows? Maybe you’re secretly an amazing diva and the next big goddamn thing, and, in any case, you’ve probably had a couple of drinks and are immune to criticism for the most part. Singing along with your favorite songs is always an enjoyment, so why not make it a full-fledged game? I imagine these thoughts and more are the explanation for the latest iteration of the popular karaoke game, Let’s Sing. Behold: Let’s Sing 2018 Platinum Edition.
Right out the gate, players might instinctively draw parallels between Let’s Sing and Just Dance, and you might be accurate at least in some regards. Both are definitely party games, and both are infinitely more fun with friends and alcohol and with zero judgement. However, there are some important differences to eliminate the two. For one, Just Dance, at its core, is meant to be goofy and fun, with a lot of focus on doing ridiculous dance moves with your friends while your other friends cheer and laugh. You get a replay at the end so you can watch yourself be crazy, and it’s good exercise from top to bottom. Best of all, even if you’ve never heard the song before, you can still bust a move and bring some serious funk to the overall experience. These are all the positive and lighthearted things that, sadly, are straight up missing in the Let’s Sing experience.
After you take the time to choose one of several very basic and strange avatars, Let’s Sing 2018 gives you about 30 popular songs from yesterday and today, from classics by Queen and Dead or Alive to modern songs that are…maybe classics? This was seriously the first time I had heard anything by Charli XCX, and I wasn’t impressed, but I’m not here to judge the singing of one person. The song collection is a decent but slightly tepid variety, giving a lot of stuff that’s already been overplayed in the last year (it seems like the Chainsmokers are already pretty passe), but it definitely gets the job done. You’ll find at least a few tracks here that you’re familiar with and wouldn’t mind belting along to, though I must admit that John Lennon’s Imagine seems to be the odd duck out. Yes, Lady Gaga’s A Million Reasons is also a slower ballad, but it at least fits the motif of something more modern and inherently pop, whereas Imagine is maybe a bit heavier in terms of imagery and meaning. Whatever, I got Crazy by Seal, and that’s good enough for me.One thing that I was prepared for but not expecting was needing an external USB microphone. This is something that a lot of other consoles have had to deal with, and I even had to deal with it on the WiiU when I used the Joysound app so very long ago. But I really thought the mic that was built into the right Joycon was going to be sensitive enough or powerful enough to do the job. Let’s Sing 2018 disagrees, so make sure you have your computer mic at the ready or your own personalized karaoke mic, because you’re that kind of friend. To be honest, if you’re “that kind of friend,” then you’re ready to enjoy the hell out of Let’s Sing 2018, because this isn’t a game for the drunks: it’s for the divas.
Let’s Sing 2018 gives you a choice to have a computerized backup singer to help you along with tempo and intonation, and I advise activating him if you don’t have another friend around to sing along with. Once the songs get going, you have a few seconds to get your bearings and find out where in the pitchy level of things your voice currently is. Visually, the game is fun as hell at this point: you get the real music video from each of the songs, which, for Right Round by Dead or Alive, is a real-time capsule to peek into what MTV used to show 90% of the day. Then, as the song’s vocal set begins, you have two sets of lyrics: the master set at the bottom for reading along and the “pitch line.” These are floating word bubbles that progress along with the beat of the song and also show you, approximately, where your voice should be on the scale. This is what’s going to separate the people who’re having fun from the people out to ruin stuff in terms of competition and overfocus. You really have to strain to hit some of those notes even though you, in your head, did just fine singing them in your car or down at the dive bar last Thursday. Let’s Sing 2018 is like doing a singalong with someone who did summer sessions at Juilliard and now needs to a.) critique your pitch that was fine last summer and b.) wants to show you “how it’s supposed to be done.”
Unfortunately, the pitch perfect analysis for points and the general competitive nature to make sure that you sing “like the artist would” ultimately defeats and destroys the enjoyment factor of this game in a passive sense. Take, for example, 500 Miles by the Proclaimers. I know that you have to pitch pretty high up to hit those chorus notes, but I didn’t know how far off I was until I actually tried to hit them and got a miss. Not one to admit defeat to a Proclaimers song (I don’t know any other Proclaimers songs) I intentionally screeched at the moment where the note was supposed to be and, behold, a perfect fit. It didn’t matter that the guttural noise I made wasn’t even English or a spoken language, it was pitch perfect to where I should have been, and that’s good enough for the game. I mean, my family grimaced while I did it because it sounded like ass, but hey, at least I won.The focus on pitch instead of words does lead to some funny situations. I couldn’t remember a vast majority of the lyrics for One More Night by Maroon 5, but the tempo and the general tune were in my head, so I made up a song about sandwiches. Bam, level up. My daughter had never heard of Charli XCX before this game, but she just kept saying “go to school” over and over and did surprisingly well. In that regard, where people can figure out the technical way to succeed, the game is fairly amusing and might be worth it in small, limited doses.
The only part that truly annoyed me is that this game is supposedly the Platinum Edition, which I took to mean there were a bunch of extra songs baked in or something. No, it’s got a ton of extra modes (Mixtape, TV Clips) that still stick to the key identity of the game (match the pitch) but chop up and move around the songs in a way to make it more interesting. But it’s still the same thirty songs. There are already close to twenty additional songs on the eShop, ready for DLC download, and they’re the songs you would expect (Michael Jackson being a headliner). Of course it’s not free, pleb. This is paid, day one DLC, the finest in the business, and there’s at least five different packs or one “season pass” to encapsulate it all. I’ve never been a huge fan of day one DLC, but having a bunch of songs that I’m infinitely more familiar with than this choice of work (Bad Romance is paid DLC, for example) just feels like an unnecessary squeeze for players who already dropped for this title.
Let’s Sing 2018 Platinum Edition is a well constructed, very aware and stylized karaoke game that is less for players who want to have fun with karaoke and more for people who want to improve their vocal game. This has a bit of something for everyone, can be fun in the right situations, and has potential to improve into something really endearing for future iterations. The problem lies that this is far from the first installment, and the developers have had several years to focus on different variations. I honestly don’t have input on how to make it a game and not just a sounding board, but the grading scale is simply not my bag and leaves a bit to be desired. If you think you sound pitch perfect and want to prove it in the gaming arena, Let’s Sing might be where you finally prove to everyone how awesome you sound. But, if you just wanna belt out a tune and sing your atonal heart out, a hairbrush and YouTube should still suffice.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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