Video Games Review: Just Sing (PS4, 2016)

Just Sing is the latest entry in the storied genre of video games that involves singing at your television and have it grade your abilities with cold, unfeeling science. Singstar dominated the genre (and sales charts) back in the PS2 era, but no karaoke game since has managed to crack the code the way Singstar did. Just Sing gives it a red hot go, however, bringing a few interesting new ideas to the table, but a sense that this was a game made on the cheap pervades the entire experience.

Just Sing actually has a significant karaoke pedigree behind it — it was created by the team behind Lips, the excellent Xbox 360 karaoke title from 2008.

While the game is fine with you breaking out your old Rock Band and Guitar Hero USB microphones to sing into, Just Sing assumes you probably threw them all away at some point and gives you another option — use your smartphone as a mic. Thankfully, as this is a party game, setting up your phone is fairly simple: you download a companion app and connect it to the same network the PS4 is on, the app handles the rest.

What this smartphone integration allows for is for your voice to be not only tracked, but recorded. Similarly, you can also record video of yourself singing via the front-facing camera should you wish to show off/torture yourself with video evidence of your prowess.

Here’s the thing about the video component, though: the whole game seems to be built around the assumption that you will use it. The first thing I did was turn the camera off because I don’t want to see myself singing into the bottom of my phone. This meant that the lyrics screen during songs is populated solely by the lyrics, an avatar and a few splashes of colour. Not much going on with this interface at all, though that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The other point Just Sing has in its favour is that there’s none of the paywall nonsense that has plagued its stablemate Just Dance. The game comes loaded with songs and you are free to sing them as much as you like. The bulk of the songs are covers, that should be made clear right away, but there’s a handful of master recordings involved and it is there that I assume Ubisoft spent most of their money. I don’t imagine Justin Beiber and One Direction master recordings come cheap.

As for the singing itself, like Just Dance, it doesn’t really care about how good of a singer you actually are, it cares that your having a good time. I ran a few experiments, deliberately throwing in bum notes here and there and the worst grade the game was prepared to give me was “OKAY,” which is good for the self esteem to say the least.

In total, Just Sing is a decent party title, but it doesn’t feel like there’s any fire in it. It can hit all the notes, but there’s no emotion or force behind them. The kids will probably get more out of it than the grown ups.

Score: 6.0 out of 10
Highlights: Uncluttered interface; Forgiving party scoring; Good songs; Phone approach is novel; Me, absolutely crushing Colours of the Wind
Lowlights: Would like you to video yourself singing; No oomph
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: September 13, 2016
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Reviewed on PlayStation 4.


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David Smith

David Smith is the former games and technology editor at The AU Review. He has previously written for PC World Australia. You can find him on Twitter at @RhunWords.