Chances are you’ve played a ‘Singstar’ game in the past, most notably during it’s PS2 heyday when there was seemingly a new release every other week. The series was a victim of it’s own success and hit a dry patch on the PS3. This was caused by Sony arguably perfecting the formula first time of asking; as a result Singstar was relegated to the back burner. Presumably until Sony thought of something new to add to the formula that had gotten stale.
Now it’s back, so that means Sony believe they’ve found something new and fresh to add to the formula that was perfected a decade ago.
The question is though does this game hit all the right notes? Or; like an X-Factor auditionee, should it be left on the street busking for dinner?
Let’s address the elephant in the room, mechanically speaking there is absolutely nothing new with ‘Singstar: Ultimate Party’. Sure the voice recognition is slightly better (although you can still hum the tune and score pretty highly) and it has changed the shiny notes into golden notes and that’s basically it. This is still the same old ‘Singstar’.
Peripherals? Where we’re going we don’t need peripherals.
The big difference here though is Sony no longer asks you to buy microphone peripherals, as the title suggests this game is for everyone to enjoy; there is no time to wait when it comes to singing/butchering pop’s biggest hits! They want everyone to sing everything, everywhere, everytime…welcome to the next gen guys, you can now use your smart phone of choice as your singing apparatus and belt out Ollie Murs’ ‘Dear Darling’! #winning
Just download the free app (handily named “singstar”) sync it to the game via wifi and you are ready to go. Unfortunately there is still the intrinsic, and sensible, player limit of 2 (Sony stated any more would bung up the UI), unless you have the PS Camera, the mic in that will allow everyone to contribute.
Technically speaking using the smartphone as a mic works admirably and the game is very sensitive to your voice and there appears to be no lag between belting out those perfect notes and the game scoring you on your beautiful falsetto. During my playtime (in which I played with MrJohnSherry) my iPhone experienced several dropped connections which mess up the game as it doesn’t score either player even after reconnecting. In saying that it was very infrequent and only a minor annoyance. MrJohnSherry on the other-hand experienced no drop outs himself (although he uses a Sony Xperia; coincidence or conspiracy? You decide!).
Options, options everywhere!
Smartphones are not your only option on how to inflict/grace (delete as appropriate) your singing voice upon your living room. You can use your existing ‘Singstar’ microphones, the new version, bluetooth headsets or the playstation camera mic. It really is a flexible system that ensures you’ll always have a singing partner…
…and you’ll need one, the game is really very little fun when played alone. However I hesitate to call this a negative as this game’s primary function is to get groups of people having a good time at parties, knocking the game on a poor solo experience is somewhat missing the point.
Your purchase of the game is also flexible in it’s approach; there are three versions;
- the retail disc
- the digital version
- the free version
The digital and retail versions come with 30 tracks that cover an admirable range of genres to ensure that there is a song to satisfy anyone regardless of age or gender.
The free version is; for my money, the best way of purchasing ‘Singstar’ it is a base version with 10 free; shorten versions, of the disc tracks and the player can pick from the vast number of songs on the store to create their own, personalised game. There are already hundreds of songs in the ‘Singstore’ and it’s a real bonus that the song prices are not gouging either, at £1.15 each and discounted in packs the price to building a significant library is not unfairly high and only slightly more expensive than the disc; which can be found for as little as £19.99. However to have 30 songs you like will be a real bonus to many.
Another bonus is the fact that your library is compatible with both PS3 and PS4 versions of the game.
The proof is in the eating.
While all of this is great; a game is ultimately only judged by how it plays; and ‘Singstar: Ulitmate Party’ plays exactly like you’d imagine it to; it is fundamentally unchanged. This is it’s biggest strength; and it’s biggest flaw. I enjoy karaoke games and while I played ‘Singstar: Ultimate Party’ I had a blast, there was laughing, (bad) singing and dancing and it was hugely enjoyable. However there will be a section of the gaming community that have always looked down on ‘Singstar’ as it is not a real game ( even though it has all the characteristics of a game; it’s all just gaming snobbery). ‘Ultimate Party’ will offer them no reason to change their minds. In gaining new fans this game will fail, however this is not the market Sony is gunning for…
…this game is for the hardcore ‘Singstar’ fans and for the gamer who is looking for a new party game…these are the people who will not leave disappointed… I cannot think of a party game that is more accessible as ‘Singstar’…I have no doubt this game will find it’s market and make many people incredibly happy.
In achieving what it set out to do this game is a rousing success.
Will you be singing Lionel Richie at a party in the near future?
Do you love Singstar?
Why not share your stories of music games in the comments below?