SingStar '80s Review

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Publisher: Sony
Developer: Sony London Studio

Platform: PlayStation 2
Reviewed on PlayStation 2

Sing along with thirty classic songs from the '80s in this karaoke-style game that lets you test your vocal skills alone, or play vocal party games with your friends.

Kyle Ackerman

From the moment Dee Snider bursts into the living room of a bunch of friends happily playing SingStar '80s, the tone of the game is set. Having the lead singer from Twisted Sister burst into your house, snatch a microphone from your hand and start shrieking "We're not gonna take it!" would be less embarrassing than playing Singstar '80s. But it wouldn't be less fun.

As with previous installments of the SingStar series available in North America, SingStar is to singing as Dance Dance Revolution is to dancing. This is not a game that rewards people with amazing voices – SingStar rewards singers for hitting specific notes with the right timing. Those notes are typically close to what the artists sing, but rarely identical. In fact, if you played the original vocal tracks for most of these songs (like "Tainted Love" or "Hold Me Now") the artists themselves would score dismally on their own songs.

Even so, the karaoke-style game is a hell of a lot of fun, even if it takes a few minutes (or a few drinks) for most people to overcome their initial inhibitions and start belting out popular tunes. You can just sing along without scoring, try to rank on the charts by singing for points, or play a variety of party games. You can record your performance (including video, thanks to the EyeToy camera) for posterity. But the most fun comes from the party games that allow for cooperative and competitive duets. The best of the party games is the "Pass the Mic" mode that lets two teams compete to see which side has the most skillful SingStar players.

One of SingStar's biggest problems is also a strength. Each of the vocal phrases are shown on the screen as relative lines or dashes. The position of a given note's line is not necessarily the same for different notes. That means you might see the exact same note pattern on the screen as before, but if there's been a key change, the same lines don't indicate the same notes. Also, there's no real indication of whether a phrase is long and drawn out or incredibly brief. It all comes down to the need to know and practice the song to do well. Or, you can just enjoy taking turns failing embarassingly with your friends.

The SingStar series makes an incredible party game, but it helps to have more songs with which to sing along. The game is set up so that you can easily swap SingStar discs, and now that SingStar '80s and SingStar Amped have joined SingStar Rocks and SingStar Pop, there really are enough games out there to keep the fun going until everyone is hoarse.

It also helps that SingStar '80s and SingStar Amped both settled for a "T" rating so that they could keep the original song lyrics and videos, unlike the earlier North American SingStar games. If you're old enough to remember the songs in SingStar '80s, it's a hell of a lot of fun to watch the videos. I'd forgotten just how ridiculous a haircut the lead singer of Dead or Alive sported, and... well... Run DMC's antics look even sillier now. The song list is pretty amazing given that there are only thirty to represent an entire decade, but it runs the gamut from Squeeze and Billy Joel through Madness, Cyndi Lauper and R.E.M.

Sadly, SingStar '80s doesn't actually come with Dee Snider, but there's still a lot of party entertainment to be had even without the big hair and make-up screaming in your ear.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on September 27, 2007 4:43 PM.

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