Friday, April 29, 2011

SingStar Dance - Review

While PSN is still out, I thought I'd do a good old fashion game review.

A Singing Game? Really?!?

So why am I reviewing a singing game? Well, as anyone who's played with me while drunk knows I like to sing. Unfortunately for those poor souls, my voice (as my wife puts it) brings blood to the ears (and then all over the carpet). To be honest, I have a lot of post processing going on in my head so not only do I sound good to myself, most people do. That said, here's a game that can actually help you improve.

Starting at the Beginning

So about a month ago my wife went out drinking, dancing and singing with a friend. When she got home, she was still raving about how much fun it was to go out singing. Later that week we were at a Fry's Electronics and saw SingStar dance for $40, with two microphones. I checked the price against online pricing, it seemed decent and the game looked interesting so we grabbed it. We were going to a friend's birthday party and thought it would be fun to drink, laugh at ourselves and play this.

At the same time we picked up the 80's pack of music for the PS2 @ $5. I figured for $5, how wrong could things go.

Once we got home I hooked everything up. I hadn't bought my PS Move stuff yet, when I did I had to rearrange my setup as the PSEye didn't like my USB hub.
For the record I have plugged into my PS3 now:
  • PSEye (Move)
  • Keyboard
  • SingStar Mic Adapter
  • IR Receiver
While I have 4 USB ports, one is broken so I have to use a hub.
We started playing within minutes. Here's where the game blew me away.

Helping You Hit Those Notes

So, I should note before this I had never played a SingStar game. I had no knowledge of it going in other than I could see that it had been around for a while and seemed to have a lot of support. SingStar analyzes your pitch and scores you based on that. You can move up or down an octave and it deals with that just fine. There is varying levels of difficulty which allow better singers (like my wife or her friends) to work at hitting the note exactly while having me just get close to start with.

It amazed me how many songs I didn't actually know the words to. That day we bought about 20 songs off of the SingStar store and we were having a blast. We almost didn't make it to the party we were having so much fun. We then took this to the party, and it was a huge hit. Guys vs girls, and of course the girls kicked our collective asses.

In the next couple of weeks I purchased about 3 other PS2 game discs, as the game read the old discs perfectly. We downloaded a bunch of songs, I even put together a database so we could keep track of which songs we had. Full disclosure, I do have a backwards compatible PS3, I haven't tried any other model, but it should work.

We are now up to 153 songs split between downloads and 4 discs. I've gotten microphone stands and we've had people over just for this. As you sing the game records you and you can listen to it afterwords which is really cool.

Oh, and here's a great feature, if you have a PSP, you can use remote play to select the next song, player or players, mode, difficulty, etc. You can create a queue just like a high end karaoke machine, and it is all wireless. The interface is a little slow on the PSP, but manageable.

I've also had a chance to play with the dancing piece. It is a pain since sometimes they give you directions while your back is to the TV. In addition the lead time on moves seems to be too small for me, making it hard to score well. That said, with the PSEye attached there were videos/pictures to go with performances, a nice little bonus.

Over the past few weeks, my singing has improved dramatically. My wife says I no longer make her ears bleed. That makes this worth it.

Not Perfect, Yet

So while this is a blast to play, there's a couple of areas I'd like to see improved. The first being tracking other discs in game. The game only shows songs for the current disc and what's been downloaded. This makes getting a full list hard. I don't mind switching discs (even though it is annoying) but show me all my songs. What would be better is if the other discs could be downloaded to my PS3. Songs on the store cost ~$1.49 so buying old discs is economically the better choice in a lot of cases.

This brings me to my second issue, some songs are limited by region. I sort of understand this if the languages are different, but why does the UK have a different selection than the US? WTF is up with that?

Also, while the store is big, and has lots of different songs, there's a few artists who are missing. For example, there's no Tom Petty anywhere that I've found. This is one of my biggest frustrations, but is likely not the fault of London Studio who produces the game.

Finally, some songs such as Baby Got Back are classified as rap scoring. Rap scoring isn't explained in the user's manual (which is in game) and neither myself or my wife can figure out what makes the score good or bad.

The Good

  • Fun
  • Lots of songs
  • Inexpensive
  • Can actually improve your voice

The Bad

  • Song selection (No Tom Petty? Really?)
  • Specialty songs per region (Why does the UK get Love Shack and we in the US don't?)
  • Rap Scoring (Makes no sense)
  • Store songs are expensive


I love it but there's rough edges. I give this a rating of 8/10.

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