FIGHT! Singstar Vs We Sing Encore
I recently attended an event for We Sing Encore, a game for the Nintendo Wii where you’re given microphones and expected to sing along while a game judges you. In the event coverage, I mentioned that the game was the closest you could get to playing Sony’s Singstar on a Nintendo console and may also have claimed that it seemed like such an aggressive copy that I may have been hesitant to leave my pets around it in case it threw my dog out a window or boiled my bunny. After receiving a copy of We Sing Encore for review, I played through as much as I could, until I literally couldn’t stand anymore and gave it to my sisters so that someone could enjoy it but, on further reflection, I wasn’t able to conclude to myself whether my problems with the game, namely that it felt like an inferior clone of a six year old game, were genuine, or if I was being too harsh and it was better than Singstar?
I decided to dust off the arena and get ready for FIGHT! 2: Electric Boogaloo. Luckily, as this fight also contained music games, I saw no need to change the categories from the first. If the recently released We Sing Encore came out on top, I’d recommend it to the readers of GamingLives. If the six year old veteran Singstar for PS2 came out on top, then you’d know We Sing Encore wasn’t worth a purchase and we’d then try to never speak of it again.
So, is We Sing Encore number one? Is Singstar top of the pops? Why are hypothetical questions used to generate hype and interest in something you’re already reading? Two of those three questions will be answered below!
Singstar… We Sing Encore…
Synchronicity With Music
In a game where you have to sing along according to the game’s imposed guidelines, you’re going to want the game to be as in sync with the music as possible to make sure you’re singing correctly and at the same time as the song. As well as that, you’re going to want the game to tell you to sing in tune, or at least in a way that makes sense. Well, I’d assume that, in any case. Singstar managed to do it pretty well, making sure that you could efficiently sing in the scale and timing the song demanded. So I’m at a loss to explain why We Sing Encore was much less able to face this task. In more than a few songs the game would end up coming out of sequence, meaning you’d either be singing a few seconds behind or ahead of the rest of the song by its end.
It normally makes you either have to speed up your singing or take a breath or two out of place to let yourself catch up to the game, which seems a bit unapologetic for doing it. Surely, play testing would have been able to sort this out. Messing about with the settings to compromise for potential HDTV lag only made the game even more difficult to keep in sync and rendered a couple of songs nearly pointless to sing. Not to mention that the timing of the sections you’d have to sing would be inconsistent. Not only that, but sometimes the game’s requirements for what tune you need to sing in make no sense with the rest of the song, and I’m not even sure the game is paying attention to how you’re singing sometimes. My friend Lewis and I would frequently find that the song would tell us to sing at a different level to how it should have been sung, or that we were singing at the same tune on extended notes when we weren’t, and frequently told us that we were singing too low for some notes and then too high for higher notes when we hadn’t changed at all. I even beat him by putting the microphone in my mouth and making guttural noises while he sung normally, except when the game then penalised me for singing too loud but, oddly, not when I resorted to yelling “Fuck you” at the top of my lungs. Not to mention that the game will frequently cut out what I’m singing when I haven’t stopped singing or breathed. Singstar isn’t perfect and suffers from some inconsistency, but it feels a lot more in tune in terms of speed and what you need to sing than We Sing Encore.
Round Winner: Singstar
Something that will be hard to balance in a singing game would be how harshly you want to judge players for their singing. Of course it’s going to be hard trying to sing in all the different styles the game’s going to demand of you, but there needs to be an incentive for players to keep trying with a difficulty level that helps them want to keep playing, but provide a challenge. Both games provide different difficulty options to help ease you in which comes as a plus, but otherwise, both seem very different to me on the difficulty scale. Singstar manages to get a good balance where the songs may seem difficult at first, but will become easier with practice.
We Sing Encore however, doesn’t really seem to make as much sense in the difficulty department. All I really noticed from changing the difficulty levels was that I’d be given more points when doing higher difficulties, even if I hit less notes overall and sung worse. Not that there’s much of a difference between the difficulties other than that, as I discovered when I sung the same song twice on different difficulties and was ranked throughout the song in much the same way as before, making the different levels rather pointless. That and the star rankings for each song seem out of place. The game ranks each song out of five stars based on how difficult it is, with the most stars being hardest, but the rankings sometimes seem randomly generated.
Stuff like Westlife will have one star when their voice and tune fluctuates to poncy degrees, while songs like ‘Hey There Delilah’ will be ranked harder despite keeping roughly the same throughout. And then there’s shit like Mika’s ‘Grace Kelly’ providing that “So hard that it stops being fun” type of song that just pisses off everyone playing.
Of course, We Sing Encore compounds this problem with its post-song scoring. The breakdowns it gives you confuses at times (“How did I miss over 50% of the notes?” became a common exclamation) and the short one line analysis come from the “Passive-Aggressive Jerk” side of song analysis, which will patronise and borderline mock you for your performances. Of course, the songs would be easier to sing if the synchronicity wasn’t such a problem. Singstar manages to be fun and provide a challenge, We Sing Encore bordered into the “hard and not fun to play side”, a sentiment concurred by my friend who, unlike me, is capable of singing.
Round Winner: Singstar
Levels Of Addiction
This one is surprisingly tough for me to judge. On the one hand, We Sing Encore has awards for you to attain, singing lessons, a percent completed chart in it and a fair amount in the game to do. But, the percentage completion isn’t entirely clear, the singing lessons aren’t amazingly well done or fun to do, and the awards are either mundane like “beat every song in this difficulty” or completely random like “use your clairvoyance to pick the developer’s opinion of the worst combination of songs or the developer’s favourite background.” I found it within 10 seconds of randomly scrolling through the options. That’s not an award. I’d have a better excuse at inciting people to play by telling them I’ll put some clothes on and stop singing “I’m Too Sexy” if they keep playing. Did I mention there’s no communicated reward for attaining their awards? There is with my incentive.
On the other, Singstar has a pretty robust single player mode which, while it isn’t the most amazing mode, gets pretty addicting and fun to play and provides an incentive for the player to continue and keep working until they reach stardom. Plus, seeing as the game works better, isn’t mocking when you’re not great and takes you out of the zone and has a more balanced difficulty to boot, you’re more likely to take the time to keep playing solo and have more fun with your friends.
Round Winner: Singstar
Variety – Modes Of Play
I think We Sing Encore comes up tops here. As much as Singstar does the modes it has better, this was a section that wins through on quantity, rather than quality. We Sing Encore has more things to do, what with its singing lessons, eight or so multiplayer modes (including first to a certain score, expert mode, pass the mic, versus, duet and more) and a jukebox to watch the songs individually without having to sing them means it has more modes than Singstar does. Whether they play well or not, you’ll have a lot of different modes to try out with your friends in We Sing Encore. Just make sure they forgive you after. I don’t think mine have.
Round Winner: We Sing Encore…
Both games require you to pretty much sing the same songs over and over again, so getting a high score on as many tracks as you can is a main incentive to keep on playing, especially if you’re squaring off against your friends. We Sing Encore doesn’t do so great a job at this, as the leaderboards don’t show the top few attempts, only the highest score for each song organised by total score, which seems a bit nonsensical to me. It also doesn’t tell you what the score is to beat when you’re selecting each song, which makes it a bit long to go and check the scores each time if you feel like doing a score attack.
If memory serves, Singstar gives you at least a top three for each track, and the scoring in the songs makes more sense than in We Sing Encore, where the scoring isn’t really well explored, and copies the “certain notes give multipliers to the score” system Singstar adopts, but it feels more random than it should do. In terms of keeping playing and having the incentive to keep trying to top the high scores, Singstar wins out.
Round Winner: Singstar
Variety – Suitable Music
Of course, in these types of games, the major incentive to buy them are the song lists. Some of the flaws can almost be overlooked and forgiven with the right set list, or at least one that has a fair amount of tracks you enjoy or songs that suit the game overall. However, looking at both the set lists, it can be considered a tough call as to what game has a more suitable set list of songs for play. However, I’m going to give this one to Singstar for the following reason: while the song list isn’t wildly varied, it has a lot of songs that require similar skills to sing effectively, and fit into the game well. The songs are more suitable for the audience that the game appeals to and the songs all suit the way that the game plays in a very definitive and fun manner.
In comparison, while We Sing Encore’s song list is quite varied, the impression I have from playing the game is that they’re there simply for the effect of having varied songs, without much play testing or checking to see how well the songs fit into the game with the others or how well they play themselves. Some of the choices seem nonsensical, and some translate very poorly into the game. There’s a variety, yes, but it doesn’t all fit together very well, which is why Singstar wins the final round, too.
Round Winner: Singstar
So now the dust has cleared, the bell has been rung, and we go to the final scores to determine our winner…
Round Winner: Singstar 5, We Sing Encore 1…
Meaning that Singstar wins with the same result as the first FIGHT!, taking home the second FIGHT! trophy!
Where do we stand, then? Clearly, We Sing Encore isn’t an altogether well made product. There are a lot of flaws in it which don’t make it very fun to play, and experiences with the game with friends involved doesn’t amount to as much fun at home as I had when I was at the launch event. You may find some fun in this title, but after a short while, I found myself cursing at it frequently, not having much fun, and then passing it onto my sisters as soon as I played enough to form a concrete opinion of the game. I wouldn’t really recommend it, but if the songs in it appeal to you and you want a fun party game you can all sing along to (and you only have a Nintendo Wii), you probably can’t do much worse. It doesn’t even compare well to Singstar, the game it’s clearly trying to be, despite having six years to improve on the product and deliver a vastly superior product.
On the plus side, at least I can use the microphones I got from it on my 360 version of Rock Band, so at least I can do the harmonies with my friends when we play Beatles Rock Band instead.
It may be an encore, but the crowd’s already left the building to witness something better. Anything.
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