If you sing a song loudly enough, the whole world will stop to listen. Equally, if you sing a song badly enough, you’ll become infamous on the X Factor DVD extras.
Let’s face it, the X Factor is as much a search for the pop talent of tomorrow as it is an excuse to laugh at Barry the 30-year-old paper boy who’s convinced he’s Justin Timberlake’s vocal double. When clearly, to anyone else with ears, he sounds more like Rustin’ old gate. Hinges.
That didn’t really work, did it?
Anyhow, rather than laugh at the misguided unfortunates on the TV show, why not invite your mates round for a game of X Factor Sing, then laugh at them instead. The package comes complete with a microphone and considering the £25 price tag, it’s an impressively sturdy one. This isn’t one of those flimsy grey plastic doobries you get bundled with cheap sound cards; it’s a decent Karaoke-style mic, so full marks on the hardware front.
It’s a shame that the accompanying software isn’t of a similar quality. For starters, it’s very forgiving; even poor Barry would probably do pretty well at X Factor Sing. We tested it out on a few people, some who could carry a note or three, and some who… let us put this politely… blur the line between singing and actual physical assault on the eardrums.
And the tone deaf among us fared well, even when the difficulty setting was cranked up to hard (seemingly, the difficulty level only has a minor bearing on the proceedings). Your vocal success is measured by a scrolling bar chart, with each bar representing a note and the pitch/length it should be sung for. Part of the reason you can perform better than you should is that it’s possible to just alter your pitch on the fly to pick the notes up.
On the one hand this shows off the accuracy of the microphone. On the other it makes the resulting song sound a little strange at times, as you switch notes mid-word. Yet at the end of a rather chaotically warbled ditty you still get Simon Cowell appearing and informing you that you’ve got potential. Incidentally, the judges’ comments are poorly presented as a handful of uninspiring sound bites (and there’s no “fabulous” Sharon either).
The main X Factor game is a missed opportunity; it’s simply a singing battle between two or more players. This is reasonably good fun in itself, but where’s the fully-fledged single player mode where you work your way through the auditions, through boot camp, then on to the live show where the challenge gets ramped up, round by round? You know, the X Factor experience itself? It simply isn’t here.
A selection of party games, which can be played alone or with a bunch of mates, is also provided. Some of these are a bit different, requiring singing without the scrolling bars to guide you, or without the music, but many are just very slight variations of the main game.
There’s also a Karaoke challenge in which you keep singing until you’ve made enough mistakes to get booed off the stage, the problem being that even on the hard setting it’s just too easy. It goes on and on, and you’re likely to die of a sore throat before the audience guns you down.
The game is commendably accessible and kid-friendly, but there’s no reason why the developers couldn’t have inserted a properly difficult mode which does actually require you to sing with some talent to get positive feedback. X Factor Sing is certainly a laugh to begin with – and obviously any Karaoke is a hit when you’re drunk – but it could have been so much better.
Company: BlackBean Games