Gamer Chicks- Episode Eight: Singstar Pop

singstar popAh, karaoke.

Like many, whose singing abilities could kindly be described as “lacking,” I’ve always retained a particular urge to feel my vocal chords resonate to a melody. Unfortunately, that melody wasn’t always the one heard by the more musically-inclined patrons of the drinking establishment and even their hearty ale stood little chance against eardrum-tearing wails.

Geek side note: there’s a reason that Banshee, Siryn and Black Canary are well-established superheroes.

Luckily, home gaming consoles heard the desperate call and mercifully released games with karaoke capabilities. Though many of those are truly fantastic products, “SingStar Pop” is sadly not on that list.

Containing 30 chart-topping hits, ranging from Britney Spears and Rihanna to a-ha and the Clash, this Playstation 2 release had the potential to provide legendary fun. Players have the option of performing the entire song or a shortened version. Genre-specific medleys also exist.

Up to eight players are permitted in its multi-player mode, which features “team,” “pass the mic” and “battle” options. As this is the general highlight with karaoke games, “Singstar Pop” does not disappoint. Inducing hours of musically-sadistic fun, this game’s multi-player mode sets the proverbial stage for the most amusing forms of embarassment.

A playback feature is also included and the game’s players have the option of saving their results on a scoreboard.

As other karaoke-based games, “SingStar Pop” measures the player’s ability to match note pitch, agility, rhythm and length. These are based on the track vocalist’s recording rather than simply singing on key, as gamers are required to replicate various voice tricks.

The best part of SingStar Pop, however, is the inclusion of the artists’ original music videos. Instead of potentially standard, lackluster visuals, the gamer has the opportunity to see the intended cinematography for a lot of classic favorites.

This is where the list of pros stops, however, as the game’s two flaws are substantial enough to render it unsalvageable.

Although the option to include the original vocalist’s voice on a track is favorable, not being able to remove it is certainly not. In fact, the only way to truly hear the gamer’s own voice would be to turn up the volume on the microphone, occasionally to an uncomfortably loud setting, depending on the song.

Then again, with singing abilities like mine, maybe the “drowning out” feature is a blessing-in-disguise.

While the microphones may be surprisingly sophisticated for those meant to complement a video game, their use is limited solely to SingStar’s franchise, which may either bind a karaoke-gamer to one company or hemorrhage unnecessary funds if he chooses to stray to the likes of Karaoke Revolution.

Interestingly, I realized this only after buying two “American Idol” games.

Foreign microphones will not function in this game, either, so purchasing the game-specific instruments is unavoidable.

For the economically unaffected or daring gamer, the microphones are easy to install and function well within the game, providing a clear sound even when set at a louder volume.

With that said, boisterous belters and the financially-astute should feel right at home with “SingStar Pop.” As for the rest of us, a more considerate company may be a sounder choice.
enablingWe know this is Gamer Chicks, but us dudes just had to respond.

Given the popularity of American Idol and karaoke in general over the past few years, it was only a matter of time until Sony decided to take a piece of the pie for themselves. SingStar Pop, the second game in Sony’s Karaoke series to hit the United States in the past year, does change the way the gaming populace thinks about the genre, but it doesn’t add the depth and options of the competition.

Unlike Konami’s Karaoke Revolution, which has an artist covering the song your singing, SingStar Pop lets the gamer sing along to the actual music video, thanks to Sony’s huge library of music. Not only does this add to the overall gameplay experience, it eliminates any unnecessary mistakes or alterations to the song that could take place when performed by someone else and makes the game feel more authentic and realistic.

In addition, the scoring system in SingStar Pop is much more difficult than any other Karaoke game available and can actually make you a better singer if you play long enough. Forcing the gamer to manage their breaths [just as if you were a real vocalist] and pitch, it’s totally conceivable how SingStar Pop could make someone a much better singer. Also helping you in your quest to becoming a great singer are the SingStar microphones, which are far superior to the Logitech headsets that most gamers have been using for Karaoke games on the PS2 and make it much easier to project while singing.

Another interesting feature in SingStar Pop is the option to save your performances and play them back at another time. Serving either as future blackmail of a friend or an honest evaluation of one’s ability, this option isn’t available anywhere else and is a great way of getting more out of the game. The only problem with this feature is that it takes up a ton of space on your memory card and depending on the sound quality of your television, mixed results can be had. Nevertheless, it is something that can be extremely beneficial if someone is using the game to become a better singer and goes a long way in making SingStar Pop a solid game.

Nevertheless, aside from the superior quality and gameplay experience offered in SingStar Pop, there are a few things that hold it back from being something really special.

Having 10 less songs than Karaoke Revolution’s American Idol, which was released a few months ago, SingStar Pop lacks the song versatility of the other games in the genre. While songs like Hinder’s “Lips of an Angel,” Hoobastank’s “The Reason” and The Fray’s “Over My Head” are all great and plenty of people would love to sing a long to them, they really aren’t pop and shouldn’t have been in the game. Looking back at the list of songs featured in the game, it’s shocking that Sony would only pick 30 songs and then give the game a pop label when most of the songs featured are rock.

However, regardless of those small subtleties, SingStar Pop is a blast to play, it just isn’t as entertaining as the competition. Hardcore karaoke fans will eat this title up, while the casual gamer will stick with the half-dozen solid Karaoke Revolution titles available, that offer a more casual gameplay experience.

Either way, someone’s going to be singing.

-Patrick Hickey Jr.

About Olga Privman 132 Articles
I spent a good decade dabbling in creating metaphysically-inclined narrative fiction and a mercifully short stream of lackluster poetry. A seasoned connoisseur of college majors, I discovered journalism only recently through a mock review for my mock editor, though my respect for the field is hardly laughable. I eventually plan to teach philosophy at a university and write in my free time while traveling the world, scaling mountains and finding other, more creative ways to stimulate adrenaline. Travel journalism, incidentally, would be a dream profession. Potential employers? Feel free to ruthlessly steal me away from the site. I’ll put that overexposed Miss Brown to shame.

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