Game Review: Singstar Queen (PS2,PS3)

singstar_queen.boxBefore there was Guitar Hero or Rock Band, there was a music party game by the name of SingStar. Developed in England, it was a big hit and was soon brought across the pond to the US. It is Karaoke gone video game, the series has continued through many titles on the PS2 and on into the PS3. In solo or multiplayer modes, the game challenges you to sing along with original artists as they sing their hits. Players are judged based on pitch and timing of their notes using special microphones. It is a fun party activity, helping people shed a little inhibitions. The SingStar series has many thematic titles including Pop, 80’s, Country, and Rock. The latest release is a welcome addition based around a single rock band, Queen. While the lead singer’s high voice may be challenging to some, the included songs are easily recognized hits such as We Will Rock You, and Another One Bites the Dust.

The SingStar series can be considered a different flavor of Karaoke, set up to run on a PS2 (or PS3) so console owners won’t need a special Karaoke machine to play. However, there are a few minor differences. Karaoke typically does not have the lead vocals, so singers carry the tune by themselves. SingStar has the lead track, to help you along. Purists will be disappointed there is no way to remove the lead to provide a “true” karaoke experience, however you can control the player mic a small amount to help drown out unwanted voices. SingStar also has the advantage over many other music and rhythm games since it nearly always contain songs performed by the original artists. In addition, the songs often contain music videos of the songs in the background while you sing. This can be distracting, but it much more entertaining for anyone watching and waiting their turn. For SingStar: Queen, most of the music videos are of the band performing the various songs – a nice way to get your fix of spandex heavy rock band performances I suppose! Finally, SingStar differs from Karaoke in that it keeps a score of your performance. It doesn’t do voice recognition (so you could sing gibberish and still get a high score), but it does measure pitch and timing of notes. The onscreen guide provides singers with a reference for both the words and the relative pitch of each note. Sing well, and the game will save your score to compare with friends.

The difference between the PS2 and PS3 versions are minor, although if you own both systems you will probably prefer the (slightly more expensive) PS3 version. The PS3 version sports 5 extra songs (25 instead of 20 Queen songs) as well as a new feature – voice navigation of the menus. Using this feature, you can change songs without having to go back to the controller. Unfortunately, the PS2 version doesn’t support that feature. Owners of any of the previous SingStar titles will find switching between song discs to still be a snap (you don’t have to leave the game to start up a new song disc). In fact, PS3 owners of previous versions can download an update to their previous editions to add in voice menu selection functionality. The PS2 can make use of the EyeToy to provide a sort of do-it-yourself music video experience, while I’m fairly certain (I reviewed the PS2 version) the PS3 version does the same with the PS3 camera peripheral.

As mentioned, these are a solid bunch of recognizable tunes from a band with quite a few hard-rocking hits. Songs with harmony, such as Bohemian Rhapsody, can be sung either as the lead or the harmony part (or as a duet). Due to the vocal abilities of the lead singer, some folks may find it tricky to hit the high notes in the songs, but hey isn’t that what Karaoke is all about? 20 songs (25 in the PS3 version) is a bit smaller selection than in previous editions, but for a single band collection, SingStar Queen does an excellent job of providing prospective singers a large collection of fun and recognizable songs to add to their collection.


Kid Factor: The game has a Teen rating and that is probably appropriate for the lyrics. Check out the lyrics on an online song database if you have concerns – mostly they refer to sex, etc… the stereotypical rock song issues (“Fat Bottomed Girls” for instance). However, if you can get past the spandex and the plunging male necklines in the videos they are fairly tame and shouldn’t cause too much concern. There is a certain age where singing into a mic on games like this hits a big groove (ie. often tween and early teen girls) and this does fairly well to hit that niche with only a few songs providing questionable lyrics. Of course, they’re about as tame as anything they’d hear on friend’s MP3 players. One final advantage of this song set is the heavy rock/pep band feel to the songs, making it more likely to appeal to male singers (if they can hack the high notes) than previous song collections.

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