SingStar is back for a fourth instalment on the PlayStation 3, and the series gets its first artist-exclusive title in the form of SingStar Abba. Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny, and Anni-Frid require no introduction in SingStar's heartland of Europe and Australia, where they have endured as one of the most successful pop acts of all time. The Swedish group has also received a revival in recent years thanks to the Mamma Mia! musical, penned by Bjorn and Benny. Your enjoyment of SingStar Abba depends entirely on your love of the band, and of karaoke; if you love Abba you'll be in for hours of disco-tastic fun belting out their classics in your living room. It has a great mix of songs (all in English), cheesy video clips from the '70s, slick presentation, and superb online support--just don't expect anything new or innovative.
Given the series' heavy slant toward pop, an Abba title makes perfect sense. SingStar Abba includes 25 tracks--five less than the other PS3 titles--as well as access to hundreds of downloadable tracks on the SingStore which sell for around ï¿½0.99 ($1.52) each. SingStar Abba features a strong lineup including all of their UK, US, and Australian chart toppers. Classics on the disc include "Dancing Queen," "Fernando," "Mamma Mia," "Money, Money, Money," "Ring Ring," "Super Trouper," "Take a Chance on Me," "Waterloo," and many more. Given that the girls were the lead vocalists on all of the tracks, you'll have to feel comfortable singing as a Swedish songstress.
The harmony mode that debuted in SingStar Vol. 2 is back, although it only features in "Does Your Mother Know" and "Super Trouper." If you're used to singing the melody it might take you a bit to get used to singing harmonies, and you might even feel as if you're singing out of tune, but with a bit of practice you should be able to pick it up. Unfortunately, SingStar's microphones are still wired and need to be plugged into the USB port on the front of your PS3 via the included adaptor, and trophies are completely absent from the game. Given the exclusive deal Sony has struck with Abba, it's also a shame there's no bonus content included for diehard Abba fans, such as behind-the-scenes videos or documentaries on the band.
Despite those few omissions, however, what SingStar does, it does well. The core gameplay is identical to previous versions and is plenty of fun to play, especially when you're accompanied by a few friends. If you connect a PlayStation Eye or EyeToy, the game will take a series of snapshots and a short video during each song for you to cringe, laugh, or cry at afterwards. You can also save these to the PS3 hard drive and, if you're bold enough, upload to My SingStar Online for others to watch online.
All of the regular modes return, including Sing Solo, Battle, Duet, Practice, and Pass the Mic, which support up two teams of four battling against each other. There's still no online play, but the community features in My SingStar Online make a great addition to the offline experience. With a community of thousands of karaoke fans you can easily waste hours browsing through submitted photos and videos with often hilarious results.
While SingStar Abba receives a budget price of ï¿½24.99 in the UK without mics--roughly equivalent to 25 songs from the SingStore--Americans are lumped with a hefty $39.99 pricetag. It's also worth bearing in mind that while you can cherry-pick individual songs from the SingStore at 99p each, Abba's library is only available on disc for now. Whether you're considering it as an addition to your existing SingStar collection or as your first foray to the series, you'll be guaranteed a fun night if you like Abba. That said, it's a shame the game offers nothing new to fans of the series, especially in the way of online play.