The Next Sing-Sation?
Karaoke is a popular hobby-- especially in the land of the rising sun where it originated. However, the singing bug has swept all across the world at bars, clubs, and parties. Sony hopes to capitalize on karaoke's success with the SingStar line of software. They've already done so in Europe, but North America seems to be a tougher shell to crack. Coming with two microphones for cooperative or competitive play, a diversified catalog of music, and plenty of possibilities for sheer madness, does SingStar hit the high notes just right?
There's a multitude of modes to choose from in SingStar. There's solo, duet, battle where players sing a song simultaneously and competitively to see who scores the most points, practice, and pass the mic which is the party mode of the game. Up to eight players can pass the mic around singing their selected sections, competing in duets, singing until one player messes up, and much more. The opportunities for happening and lively parties are nearly limitless with SingStar.
The core gameplay of SingStar has you, who would have guessed it, singing along with tracks of music, trying to keep your voice in pitch with the melody. The words really don't matter in the early difficulties as it's more important to make sure your voice is in tune with the music. The game rates your performance based on how long you hold the notes and the pitch of your voice compared to the pitch of the main melody. You're scored by line with a "Cool" rating being the best and "Awful" being the worst. Attempting to get a "Cool" rating each line of a song is no easy task as you have to sing practically perfectly. There's also bonus shining notes that if you fill them correctly, you're awarded bonus points. While easy mode is simple enough, the medium and hard difficulties measure your voice and pitch much more accurately making for a more challenging experience. This set-up works, and you constantly repeat songs trying to get higher scores, and not because you have to, but because you want to.
There's approximately thirty different songs that come with whichever version of SingStar you choose. The traditional sets, volumes 1 and 2, feature mostly mainstream music of the current variety. Those of us not that into Blink 182, Brittney Spears, and Coldplay will feel very lost trying to sing along with these tunes. Luckily, the SingStar store has you covered, offering hundreds of songs for a price of $1.49 each or in song packs costing $5.99. The prices can seem daunting, especially if you have to rebuy songs from previous SingStar collections. The selection is notably better if you're on the other side of the pond in Europe, but the North American catalog is slowly growing regardless. There's rap, country, classic rock, current rock, soft rock, heavy metal, pop, R&B, and many other styles of music to select from-from many decades. Furthermore, a recent patch has allowed play with the PlayStation 2 SingStars letting players shoot for trophies and rewards on their PS2 versions, and frankly, these last-gen collections are much more impressive than their PS3 counterparts song selection-wise. Then again, I'm a sucker for any collection with Yes in it.
SingStar also features a large community of wannabe singers and untapped talents to share music with. After each vocal performance, you're asked if you want to replay it, listening to how you did. You can opt to save your performance and even upload it online for friends, club members, or everyone to see and/or hear. I say and/or because you can upload two types of performances, video and audio. With the PS Eye peripheral, you can record your performance of you singing in front of the camera, and display it online for all to see. Players can rate and comment on your singing abilities or lack there of with a push of a button. You can opt to join a club which automatically shares your videos and recorded singalongs with everyone in your group. The community is very active, especially in Europe where the game has taken off more so than here in the States.
Overall, SingStar for PlayStation 3 offers an incredible catalog of music for those in-the-know of current artists and celebrities. For the rest of us, there's always the PlayStation 2 SingStars and the SingStar store to quench our insatiable and picky thirst for classic artists. The foundation of the game is remarkably solid, and playing with friends and family is a terrific treat and makes this game perfect for parties. Those who mind occasionally looking or sounding stupid need not apply. Everyone else can sit or stand around the telly, sing along with some great hits, and have a grand old time.
[SuperPhillip Says: 8.0/10]