Rarely is it possible to describe a game in a single word, yet after mere minutes of playing Mon Premier Karaoké you can aptly sum it up as “niche”. After all, this is a game that’s aimed squarely at young, French-speaking children, and so to be able to use a word of French origin to describe it is exceptionally convenient. Of course, to end the review there would be horrendously lazy on our part, but what we’re essentially trying to tell you here is that if you don’t fit into the above audience, you’re likely not going to want to read much further.
Mon Premier Karaoké is a singing game that does pretty much exactly what it says on the tin; it offers a karaoke service of French nursery rhymes wrapped in a cute, child-friendly exterior. As with any singing-based video game, the goal is pretty simple: sing along with the song and hit as many of the notes along the way. Despite being able to switch the language of the menu to English, it’s not possible to translate the songs. Therefore, as we've said above, this really is a game that's intended solely for French speakers.
The game takes advantage of the Wii U GamePad’s built-in microphone, meaning that it’s ready to play out of the box. Not having to invest in any extra peripherals is always a boon for parents who know all too well the financial burden of having children, although the quality of the GamePad’s mic input does makes a USB microphone immediately seem like an attractive option (that and you’ll need one for the two-player mode). Even with the sensitivity ramped all the way up in the settings, the game struggles to pick up your voice unless you've got the GamePad right up against your mouth. Of course, this reviewer’s voice is somewhat deeper than that of a child’s and, therefore, it could be that the input is tweaked with this in mind.
Holding the GamePad at a sensible distance from one’s face is ideal, as the game uses the controller’s camera to take pictures of the player as they perform. If, as a parent, alarm bells are suddenly ringing in your head at the thought of your child inadvertently appearing on Miiverse for all to see then fear not, as Mon Premier Karaoké doesn't support the service in any way. Instead, these captured images merely serve as humorous points of reference to look at once a song is over.
In addition to laughing at a picture of yourself at the end — or if you’re really cruel, of your child’s face — the game scores you on your overall singing performance. However, it’s hard to tell what it actually means: a three-digit counter appears, but there’s no indication of what the maximum possible score is. It’s likely this way to make it more kid-friendly, yet it also reduces the player’s motivation to play again in an attempt to achieve a better score.
There are a good number of different songs to choose from, and each one is presented with an adorable video. The presentation itself is spot-on for the intended audience, and while it may be a tad generic, things like barnyard animals and trains will nevertheless be exciting and entertaining to children who are highly unlikely to have backpacked around the globe and seen everything that there is to see.
Aimed at a very specific audience, Mon Premier Karaoké isn’t the sort of game that will acquire a huge following, and it certainly isn't attempting to do this. Instead, it does a good job of delivering a straightforward karaoke experience for young, French-speaking children. There’s a good range of songs, each of which is complemented with a fun, child-friendly animation, and the GamePad camera is effectively used to add a nice little touch. The GamePad’s iffy microphone input slightly hinders the experience, but these are fairly minor niggles given the target audience and the fact that it’s not designed as a competitive game.