E3 06: SingStar Hands-On

We grab a plastic microphone and choose 1 of 100 tracks to sing along to as we check out a PS3 demo of SingStar.

LOS ANGELES--If you were watching our live show from last year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, you might remember that show attendees were treated to a horrific rendition of some song or other when Sony Computer Entertainment Europe stopped by our stage with a work-in-progress version of SingStar for the PlayStation 2. Despite our stage talents' best efforts, SingStar has subsequently become a success in Europe and, we're pleased to report, now looks certain to make its way across the pond (first on the PlayStation 2) before the end of the year.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the franchise, SingStar karaoke games score your performances based on how well you hit and sustain notes and also give you feedback that lets you know when you're singing too high or too low on the fly. At the end of each song, your overall score will be totaled, taking into account scores for notes, line bonuses, and "golden notes." You'll be given a rating based on your score, such as "hopeful," "lead singer," or "superstar." In addition to solo play, the games support two-player battles and duets, which seem destined to make them party favorites in North America, just as they are in Europe. Battle games in which two singers go head-to-head were definitely the mode of choice at today's event, and the varying vocal talents of the attendees made waiting in line for our turn as memorable as anything at the event. We won't bore you with a note-by-note account of our lackluster performance, but based on our experiences we can report that the PlayStation 3 game's redesigned microphones not only look the part but are seemingly immune to even very loud background noise, of which there was plenty.

One of the reasons why SingStar is so popular in Europe is undoubtedly the great selection of music that the various themed versions of the game offer. The demo version of SingStar for the PS3 at today's event had 100 different tracks to choose from, and when the game is released, you'll have the option to download the entire PS2 back catalog of over 300 songs to your new console's hard drive. To give you some idea of just how varied that catalog is, some of the memorable tracks from today's event include:

Avril Lavigne - "Complicated"
Coldplay - "Speed of Sound"
Culture Club - "Karma Chameleon"
Marilyn Manson - "Personal Jesus"
Queen - "Don't Stop Me Now"
Soft Cell - "Tainted Love"
The Darkness - "I Believe in a Thing Called Love"

When selecting a song from how ever many hundreds you have available (additional songs will be made available after the game's release, and you have the option to receive alerts and recommendations), you'll be able to find the track that you're after quickly and easily, thanks to the inclusion of artist information, album covers, and audio that kicks in the instant you highlight a selection. Once you've chosen your track and opted for the normal or shortened version of it, you'll get to sing along while watching the relevant music video in high definition, and for older tracks that didn't have music videos the team has gone to the trouble of creating them using original footage of the artists performing live and such.

If you've got an EyeToy camera, you'll be able to record videos of your own performances that can be saved to your PSP's memory stick, and even if you don't have an EyeToy, you'll be able to enjoy audio recordings of yourself on your Sony handheld. We didn't get to see that functionality in action today, but stay tuned for more on SingStar in the not-too-distant future.

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