It had to happen. Six years and over twenty titles later, the SingStar franchise has been running a bit flat in recent years; it doesn’t take a genius to realise that dancing and singing go together like gin and tonic. With their recently released Move controllers, Sony have done the logical thing and now living room karaoke champions can shake their money-makers as well.
In other words, SingStar parties are now approximately twenty-three times more embarrassing. Back in the day, those who weren’t vocally-gifted could get through SingStar by just humming and looking enthused. Now with dancing thrown in, all us socially retarded geeks are going to be left twitching and flailing our limbs around AS WELL as mumbling the words to “Livin' La Vida Loca”. It ain’t pretty, I can tell you.
Rather than have players clutch both the microphone and the Move wand (and potentially cause some rather embarrassing bloopers of singing into a coloured bulb), SingStar Dance encourages people to share the singing and dancing duties. One or two players will take vocal responsibilities and one to two dancers will back them up with Move controllers and attempt to follow the on-screen choreography. If you’re not feeling particularly social (or have some pride), you can still sing or dance solo to practice or to improve your high-scores. The game doesn’t stop anyone from attempting to sing and dance simultaneously either - but if Chris Brown needs to lip-synch, then it’s likely a normal person trying to do both will need an ambulance before the second chorus.
The singing aspects of SingStar Dance are identical to every other SingStar title, with red and blue bars and floating lyrics that fans will instantly recognise. The dancing, however, is a whole new kettle of fish. Strangely dancers will only ever get to hold one Wand controller, even if you have a spare lying around. Considering dancing usually requires full body motion, this single limbed input tends to feel a bit disjointed. Technically a player could get a high score by sitting down and moving one arm around at the right times. But like all SingStar games, players will only get a level of enjoyment out of it based on the amount of energy they’re willing to put in. After a couple of drinks and the right people cheering you on, even the most timid of gamers should get into the groove and start boogieing up a storm.
This isn’t to say that the dancing is easy, though. In fact SingStar Dance is quite unforgiving. Unlike Kinect’s Dance Central, the instructions and upcoming dance moves aren’t communicated very clearly, leaving you with little time to prepare for the next step. Instead you’ll be constantly watching the in-game dance model and trying to mimic them on the spot with you usually falling behind. It felt like I was trapped in an aerobics class from Hell. Even changing the difficulty between Easy, Medium and Hard doesn’t change the dance routine; it just affects the scoring and is more forgiving on the easier setting. Of course with multiple replays, players will eventually learn the routines and no longer require on-screen cues. But having to rote-learn songs doesn’t make SingStar Dance much fun for casual players. Actual dancers or those obsessed with pop music video chorography will probably be sweet though.
As if spazzing out all over the place in front of your close friends wasn’t bad enough, the PlayStation Eye camera also allows you to permanently record the spectacle. Egotistical (or sadistic) players will then be able to take snapshots and upload clips of their terrifying performance for the whole world to bear witness to.
SingStar Dance is very party-game orientated with the full track listing accessible from the get-go. There is no career mode, just duets, battles, a casual pass the mic option, and online play with those on your friends list. The game features 30 tracks with both vocal and dance support from artists like 'N Sync, Black Eyed Peas, Gwen Stefani, Reel 2 Real, Jamiroquai, Lady GaGa, Cyndi Lauper, Blondie, and the Pussycat Dolls. For those with a pair of baggy pants in their closet, “Can’t Touch This” will let you stomp out The Hammer Dance like nobody’s business too.
Currently the SingStore doesn’t have any additional dance-compatible tracks to purchase so owners will have to make do with what’s on the disc. But it’s only a matter of time before Sony start adding a catalogue of Move-friendly songs to their archive. Although nearly half these tracks are already available via the SingStore, any fan of SingStar with Move controllers should consider buying this. It’s embarrassing, hilarious and entertaining all in one.