With SingStar coming to the PS3 in the next few weeks, we decided to check out SingStar’s latest outing on the PlayStation 2 to see how the series is coming along. While we were rocking out to Guitar Hero 1 and 2, SingStar was there first, so color us late to the party in terms of the franchise. However, like the Guitar Hero games and others of that ilk, the song set list determines just how much fun you’ll have, so the game is only as good as its tracks.
SingStar has wisely decided to re-visit eras rather then throw the latest emo band or flavor of the month, and that’s obviously true with SingStar 90s as well. On the PS3 SingStar, there will undoubtedly be a ton of downloadable content to purchase, but SingStar 90s on PS2 doesn’t have that luxury. Fortunately, the diversity and strength of these tracks eclipses the downloadable content for other franchises. Where else can you get “Silver Machine” by Hawkwind? You can’t. Take that, Guitar Hero 3 and Rock Band.
SingStar is all about Karaoke, and not in the casual bar sense — although that’s perfectly acceptable if you’re just playing for fun. Singing along to the track, you have to account for pitch, then sustain and adjust your pitch accordingly to score points. Part of the fun is actually learning the lyrics to some of the pop songs you’ve heard on the radio, many of which are so garbled that you may have made up your own lyrics. It also takes a while to get warmed up, but even if it’s been a long time since you have Karaoked, the track list for SingStar 90s probably means you’re familiar with about 90 percent of the songs already, which makes it easier to “learn on the fly” compared to Guitar Hero or Rock Band, with which the familiarity percentage is more like 20 to 30 percent.
So, just what will you find in SingStar 90s on PS2? Glad you asked:
- Arrested Development: Tennessee
- Boyz 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 Feat. Rob Tomas: 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 Feat. Felly: Pump Up The Jam
- The Cranberries: Zombie
- Vanilla Ice: Ice Ice Baby
- Wilson Phillips: Hold On
The graphics in SingStar 90s are clean, with just the music video playing in the background, the lyrics on the bottom, the pitch meter layered over the music video and your point total/score on top. The pitch meter is basically a bar that you “fill up” when you are singing perfectly. Adjusting the difficulty makes the bar either fatter (Easy) or thinner (Hard), and there are “golden notes” that account for bonus points if you nail them. If you happen to have an EyeToy, you can hook that up as well and watch yourself rather then the video. We only hope this technology makes it into the PS3 version with the PlayStation Eye. With the EyeToy hooked up, you can also replay your performance later, which can be quite amusing with a group.
The party mode is the most fun playing, with the Battle mode letting two players sing the same song at the same time, with the player wins who reaches 5,000 points first. The Duet mode, though, is a little disappointing, but it’s more due to the song choices and their lack of good duet support rather than the mode itself. The single-player mode is fun enough on its own, but like most of games in the music genre, SingStar 90s really shines its brightest with more than one person.
If there’s any disappointment with SingStar 90s on PS2, it’s that there’s nothing to unlock and no hidden content. The UK track listing is slightly different from the North American one, and after comparing the two, I would have gone with UK one myself, even in North America. However, its pick-up-and-play appeal has to be SingStar’s strongest suit, as we’ve had some friends who would rather watch than participate in Rock Band or Guitar Hero, then actually asking to turn on the mic and have a go at Baby Got Back.
SingStar 90s isn’t as flashy as Guitar Hero, nor does it have all the instruments of Rock Band, but it plays well, takes up considerably less space and is a bargain price-wise. The fact that we are still playing it and have been asked to bring it over to future parties is probably the most telling aspect of all.
- Score: 7.9
— Phillip Vollmer