Wii Karaoke U (Wii U) Review

By Lex Firth 16.10.2014

Review for Wii Karaoke U on Wii U

Karaoke is a big deal in Japan. Whilst Western readers may be slightly bemused by the idea of sitting in a small box with their friends and warbling their way through some favourite songs, it's a large part of Asian culture - rather than being relegated to almost-empty bars and holiday destinations as seen in the UK, karaoke venues are prevalent and popular amongst young Japanese people. It makes sense, therefore, for Nintendo to capitalise on this and bring the fun of a "karaoke box" (a small, intimate room for karaoke, usually rented by the hour) into the living room. Whilst it's obviously not the first to do this, with Sony releasing a total of 35 games in the SingStar franchise in English so far and Microsoft having a decent amount of success with 2009's Lips, Wii Karaoke U is the first karaoke sim to really capture the actual karaoke experience.

The end result is a perfectly adequate replication of a karaoke booth and a fantastic party game. Wii Karaoke U works on a pay-to-play basis, similar to a traditional karaoke venue. The game itself is free to download, with gameplay being unlocked after the purchase of hourly tickets. It's this that contributes to the game's perfect fit for a party; gone is the hesitation of spending £40 on a game that might only be played once or twice, in favour of paying pocket change for a couple of hours of fun.

One of the biggest advantages the Wii U has over other consoles with karaoke games is the GamePad. Not only can it be used as a portable lyric screen, it also means that a playlist of songs can be built up whilst players read the lyrics on the TV screen simultaneously. Speaking of the TV screen, it looks great - behind the genre, staples of lyrics and pitching guide is a video of players' Miis performing the song to a live audience that never fails to get old, especially with the addition of custom stages and a wide array of outfits.

Screenshot for Wii Karaoke U on Wii U

On the technical side, Wii Karaoke U is a game of two halves. Whilst an extra mode with a scoring system based on vocal prowess is tucked away behind a menu (unlike games such as SingStar, Wii Karaoke U doesn't actually provide feedback on vocal ability) and a worldwide ranking system is included, fans of certain songs may find themselves a little let down by the changes made to the game's versions of them. It only contains cover or lyric-less versions from the Joysound library of each track (although this is to be expected in a game that boasts such a large amount of music - licensing is expensive), which are sometimes listed with slightly iffy lyric information or timing issues that can easily throw score-focused singers off their game.

Speaking of the Joysound library, it's a mess, to put it simply. Many popular karaoke hits are completely absent, whilst some downright obscure tracks are included at their expense. For example, whilst this may be good news for those who want to impress their friends with their rendition of Lady Gaga's Black Jesus + Amen Fashion, fans of the more recognisable Whitney Houston classic How Will I Know will be decidedly less satisfied (this, however, is something that is bound to improve over time - the Joysound library is regularly expanding and this is reflected in this software). A lot of the library's space is taken up by Japanese songs, which seem like a bit of a waste as they are unlikely to be known by any players at all.

Also worth noting is that Wii Karaoke U does not censor the lyrics, even though many of the vocal backing tracks are themselves censored - this can potentially be problematic for its party atmosphere as very few parents will want their children spouting unexpected swear words.

Overall, Wii Karaoke U can best be described as 'functional.' On the surface, it really hits the nail on the head, capturing the atmosphere of a karaoke booth - but, deeper down, a number of small issues start to mount up and threaten users' enjoyment. Nonetheless, it's worth a shot, especially with its lenient pricing scheme.

Screenshot for Wii Karaoke U on Wii U

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Is it the game of the year? No. Is it even the best karaoke sim available right now? Perhaps not when compared to the games that use licensed tracks to provide a better and more professional-looking experience. However, Wii Karaoke U perfectly fits Nintendo's audience - it's clean, it's accessible, and it promotes fun, above all else.

Developer

TOSE

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Singing

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10 (2 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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