I’m not gonna lie. I’m a bit of a karaoke tragic. Except I’m more of a shy one.
Whether it’s in the car, home alone, or in my dreams, singing is my jam. Now, that’s not to say that I’m any good at it, but it’s somehow relaxing, in a weird way. And while I’m fine with neighbours hearing me in the distance, or pedestrians seeing me jamming out in my car, it’s still something I do in a relatively private setting, something I do to pass time when I’m alone. It definitely isn’t the destination.
Which is why I never really liked SingStar. It was always so expensive, with wireless mics costing upwards of $99, and also the opposite of discrete, with the whole process of unravelling cabled microphones, or even just storing the wireless microphones always feeling far too clunky. Even with a pack of SingStar mics at your disposal, singalongs were also always restricted not by your guest-list, or the available alcohol, but rather by your wallet-size, with four microphones costing as much as $200. Wowza.
At the same time, too, the series has been, justifiably, targeted at parties, not individuals. A copy of SingStar would come filled with US pop music, or classic rock anthems, but never music I would listen to on my own. Again, it wanted to be the party trick, a thing you’d get out occasionally, rather than a place you’d actually visit regularly.
So when SingStar for PS4 popped up on the PlayStation Store, I felt a little bit weak at the knees. It finally represented a shift in, not the gameplay of the SingStar series, but rather the actual requirements of the game. And that’s all thanks to a little app: SingStar Mic for iOS and Android.
First though, the downloadable version of game is free for a very obvious reason: the SingStore. In a way, that means that it’s more of a $2 game, with no songs included. Through the SingStore you can choose from a small, but still relatively nice collection of tunes, all costing around $2. And that’s still awesome, especially side-by-side with the $40 retail disc. No longer will you have to scroll past a Kylie Minogue song, or a track from Nickleback. Instead, your SingStar library is exactly that: your own library. Sony are still shipping an Ultimate Party version of the game, with a 30 ‘hit tracks’, but I’d rather pick up the PlayStation Store version.
With that said, I should point out that while the song selection of the Store was fine for me, it could use some more variety. I couldn’t find any Kanye West or Ariana Grande, which might not worry you, but still makes me wonder what else is missing. Sure, the licensing of tracks wouldn’t be easy, especially when they’re being sold for such a low price, but I would also love to see the store expand in a real way.
But the freemium build isn’t a game-changer (in fact, it’s been available on PS3 for some time now).
No, the real game-changer comes in the form of the SingStar Mic app, available for iOS and Android. Here, your phone will pair with your PS4 and, as Sony promised, will transform into a microphone. And this makes the world of difference. Not only is your smartphone more flexible, but it means that, from now on, the majority of your guests, or at least you, already own a microphone. Sure, there might be some delays, depending on your home Wi-Fi network, but so far, in my own limited use, the experience of pairing-and-playing has been close to seamless. No cables, and no physical trace of SingStar in sight, with the only investment coming in the form of $2 tracks. It’s a refined, perfect SingStar package.
Now, if you’re not like me, the developers of SingStar have, as expected, brought over the usual social features of the game, meaning you can watch other people singing in their underpants, or at some weird European party, all from the comfort of a YouTube-like interface. You can also share your own videos for family and friends, which is a little freaky, and also feels like a miracle considering the process of licensing music.
Beyond this the game itself feels super fresh. Despite the dated, glossy design of the PS4 system software, SingStar for PS4 feels like something on a Microsoft platform. The lines are crisp and clean, and the design of the game feels super mature. Occasionally game menus can chug on pages such as the SingStore, but it’s still a nice look for the game. And the visual look of the gameplay itself, with a music video sitting behind your score and pitch-perfection, is still just as cool as ever. And it’s way better than the weird video montage you might see at a Karaoke bar.
Overall though, this just feels like the first SingStar game I’ll actually play.
Overall though, this just feels like the first SingStar game I’ll actually play. It’s flexible, doesn’t require a disc of songs, and is finally discrete. So go ahead, piss of the neighbours, or just have a sick sing-along party. Because that’s all SingStar for PS4 wants you to do: have fun.
With that said though, can someone please take care of my wallet before I waste all my money on classic 2000s tracks or Coldplay songs? No? Damn.
P.S. Dear Sony, please add Occulus Rift support. Cheers, Chris.
SingStar Ultimate Party / PlayStation Store edition
SCE Studios London
PS4 / PS3
- Build your own library via the freemium PlayStation Store version
- No more $100+ microphones, seamlessly your phone instead
- Annoy the neighbours
- Buy 10 songs and you can get trophies/achievements
- Limited SingStore selection at launch
- PS3 disc-based songs don’t transfer over
- Bad Wi-Fi reception might hurt your phones microphone potential
- No Ariana Grande or Kanye West on the store or disc
- No Windows Phone app (sorry Stew, you can borrow my iPad though if you want)