Review: Singstar: Motown
Review copy provided by the publisher
I heard it through the grapevine that it takes two to put a little love in your heart. Well if that’s true – that means that my guy is a superfreak and not easy to teach his ABC’s.
If that means anything to you at all then there’s no doubt about it; you are THE Motown master! The main draw for any expansion Singstar title is without a doubt the track listing, and boy have the developers hit the nail on the head with Motown! I know it sounds silly on paper, “let’s make our target audience (the younger generation) sing all the classic Marvin Gaye hits!” but you’ll be happy to know readers that it couldn’t have worked any better! There’s a perfect balance of well known songs such as, ‘Let’s get it on’, ‘ABC’, ‘Sugar Pie, honey bunch’ and ‘Do you love me (like that?)’ to counter the less popular, but still equally as enjoyable ‘Reach out I’ll be there’, ‘It takes two’, ‘You can’t hurry love’.
I’m going to begin the review by delivering a brief history lesson regarding me and the groundbreaking hit that is Singstar. When I was far younger I purchased the very first Singstar (along with every expansion pack I could lay my hands on – oh god) for the Playstation 2. There wasn’t a minute of any day in the summer that I wasn’t with my sister, singing my heart out to songs I barely knew or cared about. It was solely the fact that the PS2 finally had an original party game that didn’t involve me dancing like a spasticated elf on a temperamental plastic mat that encouraged me to enjoy Singstar. The innocence of the single player, getting texts from your imaginary pop-star friends who could just egg you at every corner to go and perform at venues, was so charming and well thought out that the retro Singstar games felt like great value for money. Unfortunately, the “next generation” of Singstar had decided to avoid this “value” route and decided to venture down a new route that I like to call: the “crap” route. Imagine playing Guitar Hero without the campaign and you have EXACTLY what Singstar is today. The single-player campaign and mess-around modes have now been replaced by thirty tracks that you can either sing alone or with friends. The only way to add variation to the game play is by ensuring that you actually have friends! With a partner you may battle, duet, or play a variety of mini-games to pass the time. It is this sheer lack of effort on the developers’ part that eventually drove me to selling my copy of Singstar: Volume 1 for the PS3. I then purchased Lips for the Xbox 360 – and surprise surprise, it had exactly the same frakking game formula as Singstar! Eurghhh!
By the time I’d almost given up on novelty karaoke games, DualShockers came along… They valiantly swooped me up in their soft, cradling arms and handed me a copy of Singstar:Motown. In a soothing tone they whispered: “Here Gazza, give this a try”, and so I did. For this I am eternally grateful, as thanks to Singstar: Motown my love for the party genre is back!
The structure of the game, the game play, the menus and the multiplayer modes are all exactly the same as their preceding volumes. It’s saddening to know that London Studios are churning out these games with no real effort; however in this one rare case the songs are so enjoyable and uplifting that none of it really matters. The main premise (for anyone that’s never encountered a game of this genus before) is for you to sing your way to the end of each track. Simple. A blue and red bar (corresponding to the blue and red microphones) is present onscreen at all times to help you figure out what pitch you are meant to be singing. I have, however, found a sneaky knack to this for anyone that is forced to play it at a party and honestly cannot sing. If you hum, whistle or “ahh” the song, sticking religiously to the guidance of the blue and red bars, you can get 90% easy as punch. It’s a spoil-sports way to play, but a way to play nonetheless. This is a difficult game to review as it’s really a player’s prerogative and personal opinion that ultimately effects how they enjoy the game. All I can recommend is that you pick it up, give it a whirl, and see if it’s your “cup of tea”. It is one of those titles that must be experienced, sober or drunk, to be enjoyed – rather than one that can be perfectly summarized in a review.
– London Studios have celebrated Motown’s 50th anniversary with style. This latest expansion will have music lovers grooving and boogieing on down to (in my opinion) the greatest collection of “classics” the videogame industry has ever seen. Now singing enthusiasts can enjoy 30 timeless, feel-good tunes that defined an era!
– The simple “pick up and play” ethos of the game is charming, and works perfectly for making this an entertaining and universally accessible title.
– Not only do the songs feel great to sing as a young adult, but finally the older generation have a title they can participate in. Most of the previous Singstar entries have included bizarre and modern hits that really isolated the older generation of family gamers.
– Same game as ever. Should you really have to pay £17.99 for a few more songs?
– No single player campaign.
– No online multiplayer (now that would be fantastic!)
– Microphones are still not as stylish as the fibre-optic Lips microphones.