canuckeh's SingStar: Queen (PlayStation 3) review

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Anyway the cash flows, doesn't really matter to me


First and foremost, Singstar: Queen and all Singstar games must be imminently docked in points for breaking “the truce.” By “the truce”, I mean the unofficial agreement that Harmonix, Activision and whomever else that is making music games obey in making all of their games compatible with all major instrument controller adaptors. I can play a Guitar Hero game with a Rock Band drumset, a Rock Band game with old-but-sturdy Guitar Hero 2 white guitar, and I can play Rock Revolution when hell freezes over. This prevents gamers from paying $200 a year on new instruments and having a closet filled with plastic USB-controlled shame. On the other hand, Singstar games require players to plunk down about $35 for new mics, or $50 for the Singstar game bundle. The ordinary Rock Band mic will not work, let alone a USB or Bluetooth headset. I don’t want to play any other Singstar games Sony, I only want the damn Queen game! Why must you fleece me for more money?

Singstar games are essentially next-gen karaoke, and with that thought in mind, Singstar: Queen is worth getting. Why, you ask? Because at some point in your party life, there was a time where, mysteriously and ambiguously, Bohemian Rhapsody would play in the background. And it was in this instant that every individual in the room stopped what they were doing and began to sing. How out of sync the crowd of singers was, it didn’t matter, because everybody sounds good singing Bohemian Rhapsody when they’re drunk. And everybody sings: even if you thought you didn’t know the words, you soon realize that the lyrics were embedded in your genetics and that all you needed was some kind of trigger to awaken these genes (probably alcohol.)

Therefore, Singstar: Queen is worth playing for Bohemian Rhapsody. Oh, sure, there are other songs in the package, but you’re mostly paying $45 for Bohemian Rhapsody. There are 25 songs present, including all of Queen’s most famous sporting event anthems and theme songs for sizable-rumped women. Flash and Seven Seas of Rhye seem to be the only glaring omissions I can think of. Hence, by account of Queen not having as many hit songs, Singstar: Queen has a lower rate of absent classics than The Beatles: Rock Band, and that has to amount to something.

A Singstar song is just about the same as a Rock Band song, but without the whole guitar, bass or drums nonsense. You sing to lyrics, and try to match your pitch with the pitch-meter thingy. If these Singstar microphones are supposed to be more sensitive in detecting audio than the ordinary Rock Band microphones, then I wasn’t able to tell. I was just as capable of humming through songs and succeeding as I was in other musically-inclined games. So curses, Sony.

Okay, there may actually be one difference. Now you can speak into the microphone a song’s name, and it will highlight that song for you. Such a great advancement in vocal recognition, used on such an insignificant feature.

Though there are a few key differences that make the game more karaoke-friendly; you can elect to sing either an entire song or a 90 second clip, for one. And instead of watching a polygon-rendered caricature of a band doing generic animations and singing songs that they didn’t write in the background, you get to stare at the real music videos and watch Freddie Mercury sing, dance and hump as only Freddie Mercury can.

Plus you can record, save and play back your own performance at your desire, in case there’s a memorable (or memorably bad) performance (and there will be many of the latter) you’d like to share with the world. If you have an Eyetoy camera, you can record video performances, but that goes back to the problem in the first paragraph about giving Sony money. You can connect online and download amateur videos of other singers, you know, just in case Youtube doesn’t give you your fill of amateur karaoke.

And if you can find more than one drunk individual to sing with, then Singstar definitely excels as a multiplayer game. You can either get a second person to sing the David Bowie duet, or sing competitively for points, or play the strange party game concoction where people pass a microphone around like it’s a hot potato. Apparently, there are people all around the country having Singstar parties. I wonder if these people exist in caves and have never heard of Rock Band. Or maybe they’re Abba fans. I don’t know.   Finally, you can just be like me and play the practice mode, where you’re not scored and you can really belt out the tunes the way Freddie Mercury never intended you to.

But after playing the Singstar PS3 game and this, I can safely say that this game is but a another petty track pack. There’s no historical facts or band interviews or anything that could give players insight into the spandex-clad heroes of rock. Feature for feature, menu for menu, this game is identical to that other Singstar PS3 game. It’s also something of a shame that you can’t copy the songs to the hard drive and use for that very same Singstar game.

So ultimately, it’ll be up to you to decide if 25 Queen songs is worth $45. My argument is that; it’s Queen, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any other band that will encourage people to jump off the sofa and belt vocals from the bottom of their diaphragm. Especially my fellow citizens of , walking out of the front door of the Panasonic Theatre after their hearts had been filled with joy from watching We Will Rock You. They’re going to need some way to let out all of that excitement and sexual energy, and what better way to do so than to watch the real Freddie’s real mustache do its thing?

3 ½ stars

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