Singstar ‘90s

by Eden
author awarded score: 70/100

Singstar ‘90s Review
Publisher: Sony
Format Reviewed: PS2
Reviewed by: Eden

Games that make you look like an ass when playing in front of friends usually don’t rate that highly with myself, however Singstar ‘90s may have actually swayed me somewhat into changing my mind. As mentioned recently in the Guitar Hero Encore Rocks the 80s review, I’m a sucker for peripheral gaming, so microphones plus game must equal at least some fun, let’s check it out.

For Singstar virgins unaware of what the game entails it’s all fairly straightforward. The technology in the Singstar series recognises your pitch, tone and rhythm, then scores you depending on how well you perform. The better you sing, the more points you’ll be awarded. Strangely however you don’t need to sound like Whitney or Mariah, it’s more fun than it sounds, even if you can’t sing.

There have been a load of Singstar titles since its launch back in 2004 and given the overall premise these are sometimes assumed (wrongly) to be girl gamer favourites specifically, something we’ll cover further on in the female gamer angle of this review. Within the franchise so far there’s been the original Singstar, Singstar Party, Singstar Pop, Singstar ‘80s, Singstar Rocks, Singstar Legends and Singstar Pop Hits. Let’s not also forget to mention Singstar will be debuting on the PS3 in mere weeks if it sticks to the schedule (and we’ll no doubt have a full review of that for you also) and will apparently allow you access a catalogue of hundreds of downloadable songs featuring the real artists and videos, via the PS3 online SingStore.

Playability wise there’s really not much to cover, its all very simple, plug in the mic controllers, load the game, choose what you want to play from the menu (solo, party mode etc) and warble your heart out into the mic, trying to keep in time with the real song as it plays along with the video. That’s all there is to it and the series hasn’t really changed from inception as far as I can tell. You’ll either love the idea or hate it, which actually makes this review fairly pointless, but hey, that happens sometimes.

Music to my pointy ears… Needless to say the Singstar franchise is all about music, if the songs suck then as with any musically driven game the experience is going to suck as well. Singstar ‘90s has numerous cool songs that should please pretty much anyone. Rather than going for the dross of the nineties (and oh wasn’t there a lot?), Sony have managed to include numerous ‘as soon as you hear them you’ll remember them’ style tunes (not that this makes them good, but definitely makes them more fun). Along with these are a few cringeworthy memories, such as Billy Ray Cyrus squealing Achey Breaky Heart and M C Hammer with U Can’t Touch This. Either way however these bad tunes are fun with friends and you don’t have to choose them if you don’t want to. Deaf gamers are going to have various problems with Singstar, despite the minor onscreen graphical prompts for the game.

Girl gamers heads up… despite the preconceived notion that these sorts of happy clappy games are all you ever dreamt of playing, we know that isn’t the case, we know you like to frag and tag like the boys and one day the bigwigs in marketing will realise that and quit pushing these sorts of games in your general direction. That said there’s nothing here that both guy and girl gamers won’t like, it’s fun and if that’s what gaming is about, then that’s all that really matters (though on a side note I’d prefer to be fragging with the rest of you lady gamers than singing, but each to her own). Given the nature of the Singstar titles, there’s no point going into the usual rant regarding female playable characters or the lack thereof. There are plenty of female singers in this title, including but not restricted to the likes of Natalie Imbruglia, All Saints, Lisa Loeb, The Spice Girls (presumably for the under 10’s) and The Divnyls—which for the record was by far the most fun to sing in a room full of friends, but perhaps that says more about this reviewer than it does about the game itself as I happily wailed “And when I think about you I touch myself”

Lowdown… What we’ve got here is a mediocre single player experience and one heck of a party game. My pals haven’t laughed so much since the release of the original Buzz game on the PS2. Despite what the marketers would have you believe this isn’t a girl game, my male counterparts loved it just as much as the ladies. It’s slightly irking that these sorts of games are aimed time and again at a female audience, it’s a misnomer that female gamers don’t like shooters and would instead prefer to sit around singing, puzzling and simming. Not that there is anything wrong with any of those things, but lets start to recognize the bigger picture also. Singstar will please wannabe popstars the most, but there is definitely something to be said for try hard warblers, particularly in a group as its true heart lay in the party mode. If you’re one of those people that likes to sing in the shower or screech into a hairbrush, you could do worse than entering into the Singstar games. There is now so much choice within the franchise that there’s bound to be something for everyone. Singstar ‘90s really needs two scores, an above average 7 for the party mode and a 6 for the single player section. In this instance and because I’m in a particularly generous mood today and the group games were such a hoot I’m hitting it with a 7.