Singing in social situations is a tricky beast. If you’re an extrovert, you probably relish the moments when your inner diva comes out and you get to test your pipes to a room full of appreciative critics (or drunken friends, but hey, what’s the difference). If you’re introverted, singing in front of a crowd is likely your worst nightmare, and you’d do anything in your power to avoid it if possible.
Games like Singstar, Rock Band and Let’s Sing aim to redress the balance somewhat by gamifying the experience of karaoke. If you’ve never played one of these titles before, try to imagine a karaoke bar but without the judgmental patrons and you’re most of the way there. Let’s Sing games tend to be reliably solid, backed by a decent tracklist and a smattering of modes to keep you and yours happy for a few sessions.
It will come as no surprise whatsoever, then, to learn that Let’s Sing 2019 continues this honourable tradition. Much like the previous titles in the series, Let’s Sing 2019 comes to us from music aficionados Voxler, with a little help from Ravenscourt Studios. It’s available for our wonderful PS4, of course, as well as the Nintendo Switch and...err...the Wii. Yes, you read that right: not the Wii U, but the Wii.
In many ways, the fact that the game is available for the Wii rather bespeaks its target audience. This is a game that’s aimed firmly at the casual crowd; it’s fairly breezy, light entertainment, intended for parties and get-togethers rather than serious singers. With that in mind, as with the other games in the series, you’d best look elsewhere if you’re after vocal coaching, a complex single-player campaign or anything remotely didactic when it comes to music.
Instead, Let’s Sing 2019 pitches itself firmly to drunken parties and student houses. The song selection this time around is appropriately contemporary, with artists like Shawn Mendes (“There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back”), Rita Ora (“Anywhere”) and DNCE (“Cake By The Ocean”) represented by their most well-known tracks. They’re joined by a respectable line-up of classics including No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak”, ABBA’s “Mamma Mia!” and others.
Whether you’re a fan of Let’s Sing 2019 will depend entirely on your love for the tracklist. Music snobs, as ever, should look elsewhere; while the selection is quite eclectic by pop standards, it’s not going to impress anyone who follows Pitchfork religiously, nor is it going to be up to snuff for instrumentalists and professional vocalists. The gameplay systems, as ever, are perfectly adequate; we’re in Singstar territory again, all coloured lines for the vocal melodies and points for perfect notes.
Just like Singstar, Let’s Sing is quite choosy in terms of its vocal recognition. If you’re near the note, Let’s Sing won’t quite pick it up; you’ve got to be absolutely on the money, and no glissando (that’s gradually reaching the note for non-music people) is acceptable. Moving between notes like a regular singer would also isn’t kosher - you’ve got to sing like an android to be the best at Let’s Sing 2019.
If you can master its oddly strict vocal system, though, there’s a decent amount of content to enjoy here. The tracklist boasts 30 songs, and they’re all pretty well-chosen, so you’ll enjoy the game for as long as those songs hold any kind of longevity for you. The song total is expandable via the online store, too, so there’s plenty more to whet your whistle if you like the core gameplay. There’s a nifty smartphone app available for extra friends who don’t want to use microphones to sing, although the game does only support up to 4 players so anything more than a barbershop quartet is out, unfortunately.
The modes are fairly standard. There’s a Classic mode, which is about as stripped-back as it’s possible to get; you sing the song, you score points, you compete with your friends (or yourself) to see who can score the most points. The Mix Tape feature is back, which attempts to seamlessly blend songs together to create a flowing mix for you to sing. It’s...mostly successful. There are some jarring transitions, but the tracklist has been carefully chosen to ensure that this feature works decently, so there’s only so much margin for error. Players can create their own mixtape, but the game’s preset ones are more than adequate for most.
Other than that, Let’s Sing 2019 is very much business as usual. If you already know you like karaoke games, you could do a lot worse than this one. If you know you don’t, it will do absolutely nothing to change your mind. It’s effectively an update of last year’s game with a couple of swanky (if all-surface) new features and a new song list. If your life is missing a Singstar-style experience and you don’t want to clog your home with unnecessary hardware, Let’s Sing 2019’s poppy tracklist and smartphone mic app will more than suffice.