AppMonday: SongPop 2

There’s something about trivia that’s just tremendous fun, and if you happen to mix that with music, it works so well. “SongPop 2” takes those two things and makes them work on mobile, and after a week, we’re addicted.

If you love music and think you know everything there is to know about rock, pop, metal, dance, jazz, TV music, or possibly an artist like The Rolling Stones, an app that has popped up on iOS might be for you.

Called “SongPop 2”, it’s the sequel to another trivia game with the title of — yep, you guessed it — SongPop.

We didn’t get to play that one, but Android gamers can still find that one, with the same basic logic at play in that you listen to song clips and answer what the band is and what song you just heard as quickly as possible.

In SongPop 2, gamers are graded on speed of answer, with the time factoring into a score, and five songs asked in a game.

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It’s a pretty simple mechanic, though you’ll want to make sure you’re somewhere where you can play audio through the on-board speakers or a pair of headphones, because you need to be able to listen to sound to play this trivia game. Without it, and the questions won’t make any sense, and this is about speed.

Playing against people is easy, and while the first few games will have to play against a computer-controlled player, it won’t be too long before you’re challenging complete randoms to find out what they know about various bands. Wins are tallied against losses, and at the end of each week, they reset, with the various wins amounting to digital prizes that might help you in other games.

The topics in SongPop 2 are fairly varied, too. They can be genre-based, yea-based, soundtrack-based, and even group based. In the beginning, you’ll find yourself working with some basic packs, such as pop for today, R&B hits, essential hits, essential rock, and so on and so on, but SongPop 2 does sell other packs for you to play with, such as year-specifics for The Beatles, artist-specific song packs (P!NK, Drake, Eric Clapton), and even songs for 90s TV shows.

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As you go through the game and challenge friends — or make new ones — you’ll unlock more songs in each pack, with a scoring system under your name showing you (with a note) just how many songs have been unlocked.

Extra song packs can be purchased — more on that shortly — and played at your leisure, with “trials” of these packs also available, allowing you to sample the goods before you spend on a new set of trivia questions.

A passion for music and for thinking you know lots about music — which many of us certainly do — can easily lead to being addicted to a title like this, and certainly the way you play makes it easier to stay in that frame of mind.

For instance, when you issue a challenge to a player, they’ll play your game and then issue another, and when you play that game, you’ll be able to send one back. This keeps on going on until the week is over, and then some, and when you load the app up in the middle of the day, you’ll be pushed back into a game, thereby keeping you in the trivia game.

It can be very addictive, that’s for sure, and if you don’t know a song and like it, there’s even a function to let you favourite the song and find out if someone is on tour. Neato.

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There’s more to SongPop 2 than just playing against friends and people you’ve never met, as there is also a “party” mode with special categories where you’ll compete on ten music questions against five randoms.

Depending on the score you get here, you’ll be placed on a score board against others who are playing these games, and the more you play, the higher that score gets, which in turn allows you to win more chances to play.

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But that whole “win more chances to play” aspect leads us to the freemium aspect to SongPop.

You expected that right? After all, you can’t have a decent mobile game these days without the developers or publisher trying to sell you something, because there’s always money to be made.

With SongPop 2, the money changeover isn’t forced, though at times, it might feel like it has to be.

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For instance, there are ads. Lots of them, though they usually turn up a few days after you first start playing.

You may see a video advertisement after a game that you can switch off using an “X” after the first few seconds, or one you’re forced to sit through for 30 seconds. It might not even be a video, with a simple picture ad appearing that you can exit out of.

That’s the first way SongPop 2 tries to get you, with simple “click me” advertisements that are frequent. It even has ads at the bottom of the app. Shock horror, I’m sure.

To switch these off, SongPop 2 encourages you to purchase a “VIP” pass, charged in several day, monthly, or yearly increments, which will remove the annoying ads, allow you to pick any song playlist, and offer some slightly higher audio quality.

So there’s what side of the freemium things, but there’s also extra questions and score improvers.

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For that side of things, you can buy extra music packs with coins that you turn your real money into, purchase power points used to improve scores, and convert actual money into tickets that you use to enter more party games.

While this isn’t all that new for any game, and we’re sure freemium content will be here for some time to come — we can only imagine how much companies are raking in — you don’t actually need to purchase anything for SongPop 2 to be fun.

Simply put, you can endure the ads, and we’ve even found you can run them without sound if need be. And to that greater sound quality in the VIP mode? You’re listening to songs for between zero point one seconds and up to maybe ten; do you really need high quality audio for that? Few will be able to tell the difference.

As to the purchasing of coins, power-ups and score improvers, and tickets, SongPop 2 does reward you if you go well with coins — three for a game won, one for a game lost — and over time, you will eventually be able to purchase song packs. The same is true of tickets and power-ups (if you even want to use them), thereby reinforcing that you don’t actually need to purchase a thing if you want to play.

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We’ve been playing for well over a week and not spent a cent, though that’s the catch of freemium, as free-to-play titles tend to make their money from people who don’t want to wait. If you’re fine with waiting, the patience in freemium pays off, as you don’t pay a thing, but if you can’t wait and have to have that song pack, have to have that extra thing, have to have a ticket that’ll let you play another game and can’t sit through another ad, well, you’re stuck, and you’ll be left with a bill.

Patience, it seems, is a virtue, but if you’re a little patient with SongPop 2 (or any freemium game), you’ll not only have a bit of fun, but might even learn something about music at the same time.

Though we’re quite happy that we’re not learning anything about One Direction or Justin Bieber. We’re even a little proud that users are beating us in those categories. Heaven forbid when we can remember one of their respective songs, we’ll know something is wrong.

A daily spin every day, people to play against, and weekly tournaments for you to challenge randoms. Or even people you know. That's the game in a nut shell.

A daily spin every day, people to play against, and weekly tournaments for you to challenge randoms. Or even people you know. That’s the game in a nut shell.

SongPop 2 is available now on iPhone for free, and will be available shortly for Android phones, something that was confirmed to us when its developers — FreshPlanet — said that it “has been in beta for a while” and that it should be landing in the next few days.

Somehow we're good at dance and 2000 pop, but not Justin Bieber. We're actually fine with that.

Somehow we’re good at dance and 2000 pop, but not Justin Bieber. We’re actually fine with that.

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