Karaoke? On the PlayStation 2? But it’s just not cool. Or is it? We take a look at Sony’s SingStar, which turns your favourite console into a karaoke machine, and purports to make you the star of the show. We tested SingStar as it can only be tested, with a handful of late-20 somethings and an elixir of fine wines.
Those USB sockets have had quite the time of it recently, as peripherals galore seem to be appearing. SingStar’s most important feature is the microphone, which connects via an adapter connected to the USB port - and there are two so you can create delicate harmonies with your friends.
There are three gameplay modes - Sing, Party and Star Maker. Just as you’d expect, Sing is a straightforward get on the mic and sing, Party has a number of options for multiplayer fun, and Star Maker is a sort of career mode, without Simon Cowell or the money at the end of it. You can also integrate the EyeToy in party modes, to feel part of the action.
SingStar sells itself on its intelligent approach to singing - it can register the pitch, tone and rhythm of the singer/player so you can see visually whether you are in time or the right key. You are also judged, rather like in Dancing Stage, at the end of each line - so if you sing well, you get a good, and at the end of the game you get more points. If you concentrate and "try" you can get some good scores, but generally the bad singing is the most appreciated.
The range of songs (which come with their original video) is a strange mixture, from the modern Liberty X and Sophie Ellis Bextor, to A-Ha and Elvis, to Motorhead (and yes, the Village People are in there too). There doesn’t seem to be a theme to the music other than "mixture", which might put some people off - it seems to be a scatter-gun approach to hitting the target market.
There is not much on the "urban" side which seems a shame, as huge slice of the PS2 owning population probably fancies themselves as a gangsta rapper, and to be fair, spitting the lyrics of 50 Cent or P Diddy (that’s Puff Daddy’s other name folks - sub Ed) is easier than producing the dulcet tones of George Michael. Perhaps an expansion pack is on its way.
Once you overcome the horror of singing through the TV in front of other people, this can be surprisingly fun. In addition to the singing, there is the playback mode, where you can listen to your performance and cringe. There are gimmick effects you can apply, such as baby voice, Barry White style mega bass and reverb. It’s funny for a short while.
Overall, if you're into karaoke, its worth having a look at SingStar (but remember that Karaoke Stage is also out there). I can picture young girls sitting in their rooms singing to themselves, and house and office parties going embarrassingly awry. Those who dig the EyeToy, will probably enjoy SingStar.