One of the greatest revelations in my life was discovering that karaoke wasn’t initially meant to be performed in front of two dozen drunk strangers. A steady diet of anime and Japanese drama introduced me to the concept of private karaoke rooms, rented out by a group for an evening of unselfconscious singing and snacking. With more and more Western cities adopting this style, the hobby is becoming ever more appealing to those with stage fright — and for those of us who, despite liking the spotlight once in a while, just want a chance to belt “Chandelier” without judgment.
Twitch has joined the brawl with its new “Twitch Sings” program, letting you turn your computer or channel into a karaoke party. The game came out back in April, and remains free to download. Once you’re logged in, hooked up to your Twitch account, and have your camera or avatar ready, the fun can begin. Well, just about.
As with just about anything that requires sound input, you’re going to need to sync up. And yes, you will need to do this. It’s not necessarily a matter of you being “off-beat,” either. The sound won’t always mix down in-time, no matter how much rhythm you have. It’s recommended you sync up every time you boot up the program, and I have to agree. It will make a difference.
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Once that’s out of the way, you have several options open to you. You can cruise around and sing on your own, then tweak the finished product and upload it to your YouTube or Twitch channel. Performances are scored much as they are in Rock Band: the closer you stick to the little scrolling line, the better you do. There are daily challenges, of course, from three-starring a new song to buying new gear for your avatar. If you go live, you’ll get options for audience participation, allowing you to collect kudos and increase your score. Plus, you can throw on your own music, in case you’ve got something super obscure you want to sing that the game doesn’t offer.
There’s also the opportunity for duets, though sadly not real-time. You can choose to solo or duet pretty much any song, with the two parts evenly matched in terms of performance length and style. When you instigate a duet, you throw it out into the ether half-done; then, anyone looking to duet that song can start their own or finish yours. Starting and finishing duets are both recurring dailies, and duets don’t receive scores (meaning you can muck around all you want without being penalized).
At the moment, Twitch Sings seems very focused on establishing community within the game. Duets are a major focus, especially open ones. They’re not exactly pushing bad goods, either. The duet function is really fun and oddly fulfilling, whether you’re capping off someone else’s work or logging in to see someone else has joined you for your favorite song.
There are a few things I hope to see addressed in future updates: a broader selection of genres, for example, or the opportunity to have multiple users perform together like a digital karaoke room. For now, though, Twitch Sings is a solid addition to Twitch’s suite and a way for bad gamers like yours truly to finally have something to stream about.