SingStar! Abba Review
Okay so I have a soft-spot for Abba. I'll admit it. So when I heard that Sony has a SingStar Abba title in the works, I didn't exactly scoff. I do think that Abba is an unusual first choice for the SingStar, as far as band-specific compilations go, but I'd be a liar if I said I didn't like the band. SingStar Abba has arrived for both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 2, with the PS2 version featuring five fewer songs and no online gameplay. As you can see, despite hitting it big on the PlayStation 3 already, the SingStar franchise will continue to live on the PS2 for quite sometime and there are still a number of SingStar games to look forward to.
It seems like band-specific music games are the next wave for the genre, with publishers working on exclusive licenses for bands like Metallica, Aerosmith, The Beatles, and Abba. Prepare to see a slew of these compilations arriving for your music franchise of choice over the coming years. I've spent a good amount of time with SingStar Abba, most of it with my girlfriend who absolutely owns me in every Abba song. I mean sure, I like the band, but dammit, I don't know every word to all the songs - and singing some of the lyrics can feel a bit effeminate. Still, the game is good fun and that's what matters most.
The SingStar Abba compilation is essentially a collection of Abba's 25 greatest hits (20 for the PS2) and if you're an avid Abba fan, chances are your favorites are here. The compilation spans a large chunk of their career, but doesn't cover it all, so I'm sure some will be disappointed. Unlike some of the other SingStar games, SingStar Abba features mostly a wave of great tracks, as listed further down in the review. Additionally, the PS3 game is cross-compatible with other PS3 versions of SingStar, as well.
If you're not familiar with SingStar, here's quick crash course. 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. SingStar Abba boasts a collection of 35 tracks from a wide assortment of Abba's work. As I said earlier, unlike other SingStar games where I didn't like every song, finding something I don't like in SingStar Abba would be nit-picking. The entire soundtrack looks like this (songs with asterisks not in PS2 game):
"Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)"
"Take A Chance On Me"
"Summer Night City"
"Does Your Mother Know"
"Thank You For The Music"
"The Day Before You Came"*
"Happy New Year"*
"The Name Of The Game"
"Head Over Heals"*
"The Winner Takes It All"
"I Do I Do I Do I Do I Do"
"Knowing Me Knowing You"
"Money Money Money"
"When All Is Said And Done"*
"One Of Us"
I'll say it again, me personally, I had a great time with the game and my girlfriend had an even better time. Every time she's over, she always puts in a request to play SingStar Abba. As is always the case with music games, 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 Abba'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, Rock Band 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 Abba is worth your money. If not, consider the other Singstar options, which include Singstar 90s, SingStar Legends, SingStar Country, Singstar Rocks, Singstar Amped (more rock), Singstar 80s, SingStar Pop Vol. 2, and others. If you're in Europe, you've got a plethora of other Singstar choices that us Americans haven't seen. Also, for PlayStation 3 owners, the SingStore offers quite a bit of downloadable content, so you can also compile a soundtrack of your own.
12/1/2008 Arnold Katayev