Review / Singstar Dance and Guitar

Singstar Dance and Singstar Guitar are two different games on two different discs, using two different controllers, that came out at the same time. It’s basically like releasing Rock Band: Guitar and Rock Band: Drums instead of bundling it all into one package to make the ultimate party game. Why, you might ask? Well honestly, I’m a bit stumped on that one.

The series has sort of faded into obscurity on PS3; we were excited about having one disc to rule them all like Rock Band, but we’ve seen a slew of quick add-ons that have really cheapened the franchise. Obviously the developers are trying to breathe new life into the series by utilizing both the guitar and Move controllers, but it’s been handled so poorly that the result just helps the title drift further into insignificance.

Guitar is an add-on to the original game that (helpfully) can be played without the original disc. All you’ll need is a game guitar and the microphones. There’s a handful of songs on the disc that – in all fairness – provide a refreshing change of pace from the usual Guitar Hero/Rock Band set lists. I can sit back and relax to Stereophonic’s Just Looking, and finally throw out the solo from Elbow’s Grounds for Divorce with ease; two songs that would never grace the bigger titles. The game works much the same as any other music title; with the colored frets falling down the screen and you strumming in time while a buddy can sing along or play with another guitar. It’s fun enough; everything works the way it should, and it should serve as a good introduction to music games for anyone that’s stuck to Singstar until now.

That said, it’s easily hiding in the shadow of other music games; it’s lacking drum equipment, it’s too easy, there aren’t as many songs and all there is for graphics is the song’s video. Not really much more you can say about it than that is there? In reality last year’s Band Hero has probably already got you more than covered in terms of music taste. There’s simply not a reason to pick this one up; it’s a few Singstar tracks that can now be played with the guitar and that’s it.

At least Singstar Dance is trying something new; using the Move controller to get you off the couch and dancing across your living room. Obviously the track list here is a little more funky than in guitar, offering the groovy styling’s of La Roux and Lady Gaga among others. This time there’s a recording of the dance moves you’re expected to perform as the song plays. They’re pretty well done; the dancers on screen actually look good doing their job, meaning you won’t feel like you’re just waving your arms at random.

However waving your arms at random actually works. Perhaps that’s a good thing; allowing you a little more freedom to do your thing, but it does make taking the whole thing seriously a bit redundant. I managed to get a respectable score by sitting on my bed and moving my arms in the general direction of the prompts; it’s a bit like the time you realised Wii Sports tennis worked just as well if you flicked your wrist instead of trying for a professional shot.

It’s a fun party game, although not one that’ll stay in your system for too long. You’ll probably fall back on the standard singing before too long, which is much more fun than trying to imitate the guy onscreen. Both games still offer the same karaoke experience that’s frankly unmatched by any other music game, but that’s nothing new and nothing that couldn’t have been given through more DLC.

In the end both games just end up feeling so horribly unnecessary. Given the radically different set lists I can understand why they’re named and marketed separately but they boil down to nothing more than simple add-ons. There’s nothing here that shows the series trying to make an attempt at reinventing itself or innovating in the slightest; it’s simply trailing along behind the genre’s best.

It’s baffling really; Guitar Hero and Rock Band aren’t as popular as they once were and yet only now are we seeing the Guitar expansion. Were this two years ago I’m sure a few more people would have raised an eyebrow, but now it’s almost being marched out to be cut down. At least Dance is bringing us another Move compatible title in good time. Still, I’m not going to recommend either game to you, dear reader; you deserve better. Singstar is dead, and it’ll take a lot more than this offering to change that.

+ Dance offers something new and different
+ Solid, if short track lists to both expansions

– Almost completely and utterly redundant
– Does nothing other than simply add a few guitar and Move compatible songs