SingStar Pop Review
The rhythm genre is one of the fastest growing genres in videogaming today,
largely thanks to games like Guitar Hero and Singstar. And while the
aforementioned two made the appeal of rhythm games much more mainstream, they're
far from being the pioneers of it all. That said, Singstar, along with Karaoke
Revolution, are pioneers of karaoke games. The first Revolution game landed at
the end of 2003, and Singstar followed shortly after in early 2004. Today, both
franchises feature a plethora of versions and spin-offs. But Singstar continues
to win the heart of gamers, and enjoys better sales than Konami's game -
especially in Europe.
Singstar's success comes with good reason too, as Karaoke Revolution uses poorly done covers of songs, as opposed to licensing the actual tune. Sony's Singstar is so popular in Europe that its spawned a massive 14 titles in a brief four years! Only five of those 14 have arrived in the US, with the sixth being the PlayStation 3 version in June. Singstar 90s is the most recent game American gamers have been given, and it features a wave of various 90s hits, many good, many I'd prefer to have never heard again.
Singstar uses a very clean user interface, one than even a five year old can navigate. You can either play a practice session, or play for points and attempt to score the best record. Because, karaoking is an activity that you don't normally do alone, feel free to call over another seven friends and compete in an eight-player activity. If you're wondering how Singstar games work, the game's superb voice recognition system will measure the tone and pitch of your voice, and instantly display your performance on the screen, as the vocal bars scroll along.
The object is to fill the bars on screen with accuracy by singing as accurately as possible. If you go flat, you'll get color below the bar; likewise, if you go sharp, you'll get color above the bar. It's a very intuitive system, and figuring out how it works doesn't take any longer than 10 seconds. Pop boasts a collection of 30 tracks, the most notable to me were: A-ha "Take On Me", Franz Ferdinand "Take Me Out", Gorillaz "Feel Good Inc", My Chemical Romance "Helena", Panic at the Disco "I Write Sins Not Tragedies", Snow Patrol "Chasing Cars", The Clash "Should I Stay...", and The Raconteurs "Steady, As She Goes". The entire soundtrack looks like this:
- 3 Doors Down "Kryptonite"
- A-ha "Take on Me"
- Alicia Keys "Fallin'"
- The All-American Rejects "Move Along"
- Ashlee Simpson "Invisible"
- Avril Lavigne "Sk8er Boi"
- Blue October "Hate Me"
- Britney Spears "...Baby One More Time"
- Cartel "Honestly"
- Cyndi Lauper "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"
- Daniel Powter "Bad Day"
- Destiny's Child "Survivor"
- Franz Ferdinand "Take Me Out"
- Gorillaz "Feel Good Inc."
- Hinder "Lips of an Angel"
- Hoobastank "The Reason"
- James Blunt "You're Beautiful"
- Jesse McCartney "Beautiful Soul"
- Lifehouse "Hanging by a Moment"
- My Chemical Romance "Helena"
- Natasha Bedingfield "These Words"
- Panic! at the Disco "I Write Sins Not Tragedies"
- Rihanna "SOS"
- Ryan Cabrera "On the Way Down"
- Snow Patrol "Chasing Cars"
- The Clash "Should I Stay or Should I Go"
- The Fray "Over My Head (Cable Car)"
- The Raconteurs "Steady, As She Goes"
- U2 "Vertigo"
- Whitney Houston "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)"
As you can see, there's a lot of stuff that many people wouldn't be caught
dead singing: Ryan Cabrera, Hoobastank, Britney Spears, Cyndi Lauper, James
Blunt, Rihanna, U2, Whitney Houston, and especially Hinder. The exception, of
course, being drunk - then all is forgiven. Regardless, a lot of these songs I
absolutely hate, but a good dose of them I like. Ultimately, I am not the
decider of what's right and wrong, so take a look at the list of songs and
decide for yourself if Singstar Pop's assortment of tracks is worth your dollar.
The bottom line here is that if you like what you see, this is a very well done
and fun game with a solid voice recognition system.
Visually, Singstar features a very simple interface. Everything is neatly laid out, and the music bars scroll across the screen horizontally and smoothly. Unlike, say, Rockband or Guitar Hero, you won't experience dizziness from following the scrolling notes, and that's a plus. Additionally, the colors are easy on the eyes, too. Lastly, most of the songs were also given their respective music videos, which are played in the background - a definite plus over Singstar's competition.
The audio is crystal clean, as you'd expect. Naturally, because size limitation isn't a concern, the songs are all well represented and come through the speakers with pristine clarity. But it is the pitch recognition that really shines here, as the system does a solid job of recognizing every little change in pitch, even the slightest bit of vibrato. Definitely a solid effort by Sony London.
All in all the list of songs tells the tale. If you like what you see, Singstar Pop is worth your money. If not, consider the other Singstar options, which include Singstar 90s, Singstar Rocks, Singstar Amped (more rock), and Singstar 80s. If you're in Europe, you've got a plethora of other Singstar choices that us Americans haven't seen. If you own a PlayStation 3, I highly suggest gluing your eyes on Singstar PS3 as it'll arrive here in June, and will be upgradeable with song purchases via PSN.
4/24/2008 Arnold Katayev