Momma Mia, here I go again.
Before I get into the review of Let’s Sing Presents ABBA, please indulge me for a bit of stage setting. Last summer, my family were vacationing in Asheboro, North Carolina. While wandering downtown, we noticed that the local community theater was putting on a production of Momma Mia, the 2001 Broadway musical built around ABBA’s many hit songs. We immediately bought tickets, and a couple of nights later we sat in the Asheboro RSVP theater and happily enjoyed the production.
That was July. This is October. Despite the fact that three months have passed, we are still talking about the production we saw. It comes up randomly over dinner or on long car rides. “That Sophie was really pretty good once they worked out her mic issues.” “That guy in the chorus sure could jump high.” “Why did the guy who played Bill talk/sing all of his songs?”. I imagine this discussion will continue for several more months.
My point? We are an ABBA family. On the same vacation, I bought a CD of ABBA hits for fifty cents from a junk store on Oak Island, and we listened to it endlessly in our beater family van. We know Momma Mia. Our kids know Momma Mia. We aren’t shy about wandering around the house and singing the songs. And that’s why I think that the ABBA version of Let’s Sing may be my all-time favorite.
I’ve been reviewing Let’s Sing games for a while now. Though this is my first Let’s Sing review for Gaming Nexus, I’ve dug into Let’s Sing Country and Let’s Sing Presents Queen for other sites. I’ve bought some of the other titles in the series and have a ton of “song packs” to extend those games beyond the initial playlists they come with. As much as we are an ABBA family, we are a Let’s Sing family.
So, do these beloved ABBA songs work within the context of Let’s Sing? Of course, they do. If you are of a certain age, you might remember a series of commercials for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups that used the tagline “two great tastes that taste great together”. And that’s exactly what one gets when one plays Let’s Sing Presents ABBA.
To be clear, the actual gameplay for Let’s Sing Presents ABBA has not changed one iota from the previous games in the Let’s Sing franchise. Developer Voxler has a template, and damn it, they are gonna stick to it.
The player is presented with a song, in this case an ABBA song, accompanied by a series of amazing 1970’s promotional videos. While the artist does the video thing in the background and the original song plays, the lyrics zip across the screen from left to right. It is up to the player to sing the right words and notes at the right time. Doing so scores points. Doing so a lot gives you a score multiplier. At the end of the song, the game tells you how you did on a five-point scale.
And that’s it. You sing along with songs, and the more familiar you are with the songs, the better you do. The jury is still out on whether you actually have to be able to sing or not. I kind of feel like you don’t. Your timing and the ability to modulate your voice up and down to the pitch the game is looking for seem far more important than actually sounding good. (But don’t tell that to my nine-year-old daughter, who belts “The Winner Takes It All” into the game with Ethel Mermon-like gusto.)
The song selection on Let’s Sing Presents ABBA is surprisingly deep. I’ve mentally separated the 31 included songs into three categories – Momma Mia songs, non-Momma Mia songs that I still kinda know, and “What they hell is this?”. Surprisingly, it is the “What the hell is this?” songs that sometimes offer the most entertainment, as they inevitably result in a lot of grunting, coughing, and laughter.
The UI of Let’s Sing has hardly changed at all from other games in the franchise. The little singing avatars that one earns by “leveling up” have all been revamped to look like cartoony ABBA members, and the menus seem to have a bit of a 70’s sheen to them, but other than that this is the exact same game that Voxler has been cranking out for years now.
Several modes are available, but in practice they all feel very similar to each other. You can simply select a song and sing along with ABBA. Or you can sing along with little snippets of ABBA songs, all stitched together. You can sing along another person while you both sing along with ABBA and let the game rate how “compatible” you are. You can sing together with up to three other people, creating a joyous, off-key ABBA cacophony. You can hop online and sing asynchronously against other players, though you can’t hear them, so you are mostly pitting your score against theirs. Still, it’s fun to whoop people and watch yourself climb the leaderboards.
But no matter what mode you choose to engage with, you are singing ABBA songs along with ABBA. The bottom line on this one is this: if you don’t like ABBA, you won’t like this game. If you like ABBA, you will have a blast. I should also mention that this game feels a bit more accessible than Let’s Sing Presents Queen, just due to the fact that it’s a lot easier to mimic ABBA than the verbally gymnastic Freddy Mercury.
As far as input devices go, we’ve tried several, with mixed results. Singing through gaming headsets resulted in us hearing ourselves with a half-second delay, which was not optimal. The timing throws you off, as does the constant auditory reminder of how much you suck. Two players with headsets on can get results that are even worse, as you get two streams of howling in your ears instead of one. Another strike against headsets is the way that they tend to cut off your TV sound system, leaving any onlookers to watch you dance and sing along with tunes they can’t hear. Awkward.
In the end, we decided to stick with using our phones as the input devices of choice. You can buy USB mics, but we’ve had plenty of success just pairing a few mobile devices. You just have to make sure they are on the same WIFI as your gaming platform, enter a little code, and you’re good to go.
Let’s Sing Presents ABBA is comforting, comfortable, and fun. In this game, you are getting exactly what you expect. There’s a great deal of fun to be had, particularly if you are playing with younger people that aren’t familiar with the almost painful way ABBA earworms can burrow into the psyche. There isn’t much complexity here, but whoever needed complexity to have fun? All you need are two great tastes, after all.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
Howdy. My name is Eric Hauter, and I am a dad with a ton of kids. During my non-existent spare time, I like to play a wide variety of games, including JRPGs, strategy and action games (with the occasional trip into the black hole of MMOs). I am intrigued by the prospect of cloud gaming, and am often found poking around the cloud various platforms looking for fun and interesting stories. I was an early adopter of PSVR (I had one delivered on release day), and I’ve enjoyed trying out the variety of games that have released since day one. I've since added an Oculus Quest 2 and PS VR2 to my headset collection. I’m intrigued by the possibilities presented by VR multi-player, and I try almost every multi-player game that gets released.
My first system was a Commodore 64, and I’ve owned countless systems since then. I was a manager at a toy store for the release of PS1, PS2, N64 and Dreamcast, so my nostalgia that era of gaming runs pretty deep. Currently, I play on Xbox Series X, Series S, PS5, PS4, PS VR2, Quest 2, Switch, Luna, GeForce Now, (RIP Stadia) and a super sweet gaming PC built by John Yan. While I lean towards Sony products, I don’t have any brand loyalty, and am perfectly willing to play game on other systems.
When I’m not playing games or wrangling my gaggle of children, I enjoy watching horror movies and doing all the other geeky activities one might expect. I also co-host the Chronologically Podcast, where we review every film from various filmmakers in order, which you can find wherever you get your podcasts.
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