Friday, August 24, 2007

SingStar: '80s and Singstar: Amped

Developer: SCE London
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: Sept. 18, 2007
Systems: PS2
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web Site

In a nutshell: Sing while you watch videos. Just like MTV used to be.

This review features guest commentary from my wife, Michelle.

0:01 The game starts with a video featuring Twisted Sister that might as well be an ad for the game. Er, we already own the game. You don't have to convince us to buy it. At least it's skippable.
0:02 The game seems to automatically import my save data from the first SingStar. Very nice touch. But I have to choose my difficulty before I choose my song. Not a nice touch.
0:04 Some wifely comments from our initial perusal of the '80s song list: "This seems very representative of the '80s." "I hate that song. [about Tempted]" "Now that's a haircut."
0:09 I type this during a mid-Rio saxophone break. The interface leaves something to be desired. It's hard to keep the pace when the speed of the notes constantly changes with each line. Oops, back to the song.
0:11 Song's over. It's hard to read the streaming lyrics and view the note tubes since they're so far apart on the screen. It can be hard to match the notes with the specific lyrics if you don't know the song. I do like watching the videos during the silent parts.
0:13 My wife picks "Kids in America" for her first song. "Do you know it well enough?" I ask. "We'll see. If not I'll fail and it'll be your turn," she responds. True enough.
0:15 My wife misses the first line because there is little warning the song is about to start. Darn interface.
0:16 "I have to do the backup part too? If she's not singing I shouldn't be singing." I agree. Upon finishing, the game calls her a wannabe and shows a small duck icon. "Quack quack," says the game. "I got quacks," my wife says morosely.
0:18 I just noticed that Eye of the Tiger loads immediately when I choose it. Very nice touch.
0:21 No video for this song... just a lame visualization. What's up with that? The game seems good at keeping me steady on long notes, but bebops and scats all over on the quick ones. Or maybe it's just me.
0:25 My wife points out that it's impossible to tell how hard an individual song is before you start it. This is a major omission.
0:29 These '80s videos are patently ridiculous. The video for Everybody Wants to Rule the World features two black guys in tuxedos are dancing in front of a gas station. Then dune buggies. What the hell?
0:34 The "Pure '80s Medley" is over too soon. Very short pieces from each of five songs. No loading in between songs, thankfully.
0:35 You don't have to reset the system to put in a new version. Another nice touch.
0:36 My wife sums up the song selection on Amped. "Ooh, I like this one, too!"
0:39 Michelle: "Wow, I'm gonna be totally distracted by the video and not gonna be able to sing a thing." Of course for people who've ever watched a music video before this will be less of a problem.
0:40 In Don't Fear the Reaper the background part practically overlaps with the main part, but you have to sing them both. Tough and annoying.
0:44 My wife's reaction to the "robotizer" voice changer during the recorded playback: "Dear God make it stop."
0:49 The volume slider seems to just make the background song softer. I just want the recorded vocals to turn down, not the whole song.
0:57 In playback mode the video doesn't move in real time during fast forward or rewind. Makes it hard to use the features.

Would I play this game for more than an hour? Yes
Why? Only because all my various Karaoke Revolution songs are getting a bit stale.

This review based on a retail copy provided by Sony.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Y'know, I can't understand the success of the SingStar franchise when it is lacking the one single most identifying characteristic of karaoke: the ability to turn off the original vocals.

You see, it takes the Karaoke Revolution guys longer to release a new volume because they painstakingly remake the original songs. The primary importance of this is that the vocal track can be taken out.

Why is that important? Well, in the context of karaoke as popularized by billions of Asians you're supposed to be able to put your own vocal track in. You get to sing, right?

That's why SingStar is absolutely terrible. Sony can't be bothered to do the kind of work that Harmonix does. They just license a song - usually with the original video (a move that by itself isn't that bad) - and slap it into the SingStar framework.

What's the development time for an average SingStar title? I imagine it's 20 seconds to drag and drop some songs and videos into their development application.

I... HATE... Singstar.

Still, I fear retribution by the Sony Corporate Machine so much as to hide my dislike here in the comments section.