SingStar '90s Review
Singstar has yet to amass the type of popularity in the United States as it
has in Europe. So it's no wonder Sony's karaoke franchise has had 14 games show
up on the PlayStation 2 in a mere 4 years of existence, five of which have hit
American shelves thus far. Singstar 90s is the latest game to arrive in North
America, and it continues to carry the quality of the franchise in full. With so
many releases under its belt, it's no wonder the rhythm genre is one of the
fastest growing genres in videogaming today. Why pay to karaoke at a bar, when
you can just fire up your PlayStation 2 console and invite friends, instead?
Singstar's success comes with good reason too, as Karaoke Revolution uses poorly done covers of songs, as opposed to licensing the actual tune. While we wait for the next-generation Singstar to arrive here in the Americas, you can pick up the newest collection featuring a 30 track dose of just some of the 90s most memorable songs, some 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. In the collection of 30 songs that Singstar 90s boasts, the most notable to me were: Nirvana "Lithium", Poison "Unskinny Bop", Soundgarden "Black Hole Sun", Stone Temple Pilots "Plush", and the occasional guilty pleasure of making an ass out of myself with songs by Len, Boys II Men, Chumbawumba, MC Hammer, Sir Mix-a-Lot, and Vanilla Ice. Overall, the assortment is definitely something I can really get into, and yet have a bunch of fun singing...especially drunk.
The entire soundtrack looks like this:
- Arrested Development "Tennessee"
- Boys II Men "Motownphilly"
- Chumbawumba "Tubthumping"
- Color Me Badd "I Wanna Sex You Up"
- Divinyls "I Touch Myself"
- En Vogue "Free Your Mind"
- Extreme "More Than Words"
- Gin Blossoms "Hey Jealousy"
- Hootie and the Blowfish "Only Wanna Be With You"
- Jesus Jones "Right Here, Right Now"
- Len "Steal My Sunshine"
- MC Hammer "U Can't Touch This"
- Natalie Imbruglia "Torn"
- New Kids On The Block "Step By Step"
- Nirvana "Lithium"
- Paula Abdul "Opposites Attract"
- Poison "Unskinny Bop"
- R.E.M. "Everybody Hurts"
- Santana ft. Rob Thomas "Smooth"
- Savage Garden "I Want You"
- Seal "Kiss From A Rose"
- Sir Mix-a-Lot "Baby Got Back"
- Sixpence None The Richer "Kiss Me"
- Soundgarden "Black Hole Sun"
- Spin Doctors "Two Princes"
- Stone Temple Pilots "Plush"
- Technotronic ft. Felly "Pump Up The Jam"
- The Cranberries "Zombie"
- Vanilla Ice "Ice Ice Baby"
- Wilson Phillips "Hold On"
As you can see, there's a lot of stuff that many people (read: guys) wouldn't
be caught dead singing: En Vogue, Hootie and the Blowfish, Sixpence None the
Richer, Color Me Badd, New Kids on the Block, Paula Abdul, and Savage Garden.
Again, the exception really is being drunk - at which point all is forgiven.
Regardless, a lot of these songs I absolutely hate, but a good dose of them I
like, guilty pleasure or not. 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 90s is worth your money. If not, consider the other Singstar options, which include Singstar Pop, 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