PS2 Games: SingStar

SingStar brings karaoke to the PS2-equipped masses. Although it’s perfect for families looking to spend some quality time together, lovingly mocking each other’s vocal prowess (or lack thereof), it might also just be the best drinking game I’ve ever played.

SingStar hails from the same team behind the innovative EyeToy hardware camera/game software series. Similarly, SingStar’s $99.95 price tag gets you the game itself plus two full-sized micro-phones that connect via a supplied USB interface.

The game leverages standard karaoke conventions such as a count-in meter and bottom-of-screen lyrics that change colour as you’re supposed to sing them. The twist is that SingStar also fairly accurately analyses changes in pitch, tone and timing, displayed using a real-time note/bar-like interface. This is how the game scores your talent — mercifully minus lame TV judge catchphrases (although a rival Australian Idol game is in development). SingStar has four main modes: Freestyle (sing with no scoring), Sing (quick solo or duet game), Party (multiplayer and team games), and Starmaker (build a singing career).

The Party mode is a scream: in Best of 3 (highest total score over three songs wins), you can take turns or have a simultaneous duel. There’s also Pass the Mic, where two teams (up to four players on each side) pass the mic for battles, duets and challenges.

Starmaker mode sees you arrive in Miami ready for 15 minutes of fame; there are two messages on your phone, one offering a gig at an open mic night. The more often and the better you sing, the more buzz points you earn to advance your career by being invited to sing at more clubs, adding songs to your repertoire as you go. Sing the same song too often, though, and you’ll lose both freshness and access to that song for a while.

Difficulty modes include easy, medium and hard and either short or long versions of songs. Audio options incorporate voice effects and volume adjustment including the level of original vocals.

EyeToy owners can replace the original video clips accompanying songs with live video (complete with effects) of themselves. Instead of getting extra points for hitting golden notes, EyeToy owners get small video clips taken — which produced the most finger pointing and laughs. The all-important track listing is slightly UK-biased but features a varied mix of hits from Elvis, George Michael, Blondie, Village People, Motorhead, Dido and more.

Score Card

Visuals: Slick animations, clips, interface

Audio: Spot on

Gameplay: Great karaoke fun

Publisher: Sony

Developer: Sony

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