Reviewed on: PS4
The SingStar franchise has been on hiatus. Though fans of the PlayStation exclusive, competitive music game have continued to download tracks from the SingStore over the past few years, SingStar: Ultimate Party is the first full disc-based release since 2011, and the first game in the franchise to hit PS4.
Also available on PS3, SingStar: Ultimate Party, which arrives to coincide with the free download of SingStar via the PlayStation Store, is identical to previous titles in terms of gameplay, but the addition of the SingStar app for iOS and Android now allows players to also use their mobile devices instead of microphones. In our case, this came in rather handy as we’d mislaid our mics!
If you’ve never played SingStar before here’s a quick recap. Players use their USB/wireless microphone, PlayStation Camera mic or SingStar app to sing along to a variety of tracks, earning points along the way for singing along in perfect harmony, while the official video from the artist plays in the background. The voice detection system works extremely well, rewarding players for following on-screen notes and does a solid job at detecting those who sing in a different pitch to the original song.
Meant to be played with friends and family, the SingStar franchise essentially brings the karaoke machine into your home but adds a competitive element where you compete against yourself to better your score or battle against rivals in your living room or across the globe. As the series has progressed so have some of the features with the ability to now share photos and videos with friends on Facebook and Twitter and rate other media from the SingStar community. This feature adds an enjoyable social element and it’s good fun browsing through some of the ‘trending’ or ‘best ever’ clips from the community.
Surprisingly though, the game doesn’t feature some of the best modes from past games or any new modes. There’s no Duet mode, Pass the Mic team games or Party Mode, which is disappointing considering it was these features that provided the most fun. Instead, it’s been simplified and watered-down with two players maximum and a more streamlined U.I. focused on giving players quicker access to new content (songs) through the New Releases, Charts, Recommended and Song Packs sections. To make matters worse, the PS4 version has licensing issues, which prevents players from transferring some of the songs from previous PS3 games, or getting access to a fully-fledged store filled with all the tunes that have been available to PS3 SingStar players for some time.
On accessing the SingStore on PS4, you can see that a chunk of the songs available can only currently be downloaded onto PS3. We scoured the web to find out why and discovered that the official SingStar Facebook page recently addressed the issue, stating: “We’re working with our partners in the music industry to add more and more PS3 SingStore songs to the PS4 SingStore over time.” So, this means that you cannot yet transfer all of your PS3 songs onto the PS4 version. You would have buy them again, or wait in hope that an update will arrive. And, it also means that the PS4 version doesn’t have a large selection of tracks to buy outside of the physical Ultimate Party disc.
The one new addition is the aforementioned SingStar mic App. Compatible with Android, iPhone or iPod Touch, it’s available for free via the corresponding store. After downloading it, you simply put your SingStar disc in the PS3 or PS4, load up the app and click ‘Connect’. The app picks up your console and invites you to connect, and then it’s a case of entering a four-digit pin that you can find on the SingStar home screen. The app has a very basic layout with the option to start the microphone or create a playlist from your existing tunes, which comes in handy.
Loading up the first song, Pharrell Williams ‘Happy,’ it was convenient to be able to pass the mobile phone around the living room and swap singers with ease. Though we had no complaints with it detecting our voices, or providing an accurate score based on our dulcet tones, we did suffer disconnection issues on a few occasions despite the fact that we have a strong Wi-Fi signal. Overall, when it works, the app is a good feature which saves searching around and setting up mics, but we’re not 100 percent convinced about its connection reliability; maybe an update will improve matters.
The track list is a mixed bag too with 30 tunes on offer ranging from Coldplay’s ‘Magic’ to Lionel Richie’s ‘Hello’, but just like other versions of the game, the SingStore offers hundreds of songs that can be downloaded for a modest price (immediately available on PS3, but currently waiting for updates on PS4 for more song availability). Whether you buy Ultimate Party then is really down to personal taste. The package costs £20.99 and does offer a saving if you were to buy all of these tracks individually.
Here’s the full tracklist for Ultimate Party which may help you make your decision:
– 5 Seconds of Summer – She Looks So Perfect
– Avicii – Hey Brother
– Bridgit Mendler – Ready Or Not
– Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe
– Clean Bandit Feat. Jess Glynne – Rather Be
– Coldplay – Magic
– Demi Lovato – Let It Go
– Disclosure Feat. AlunaGeorge – White Noise
– Ed Sheeran – Lego House
– Ellie Goulding – Burn
– Icona Pop Feat. Charli XCX – I Love It
– John Newman – Love Me Again
– Kylie Minogue – Can’t Get You Out Of My Head
– Lady Gaga – Born This Way
– Lionel Richie – Hello
– Lorde – Royals
– Naughty Boy Feat. Sam Smith – La La La
– Olly Murs – Dear Darlin’
– One Direction – Best Song Ever
– One Republic – Counting Stars
– P!nk Feat. Nate Ruess – Just Give Me A Reason
– Paramore – Still Into You
– Pet Shop Boys & Dusty Springfield – What Have I Done To Deserve This?
– Pharrell Williams – Happy
– Plan B – She Said
– Selena Gomez – Come And Get It
– Swedish House Mafia Feat. John Martin – Don’t You Worry Child
– The Lumineers – Ho Hey
– TLC – No Scrubs
– Train – Drive By
A single track currently costs around £1.15 from the Store, though there are specific songs packs that offer good value and can be filtered by genre to narrow down your preference. Consequently, it makes more sense to download the free version, check out the free demos and then choose the exact songs you want to sing, providing you’re completely happy with this latest version of SingStar.
The main problem is that the PS4 version just doesn’t have a chunk of songs just yet, and the vast majority of your PS3 tunes cannot be transferred. Therefore it actually makes more sense to play SingStar on PS3, which seems ridiculous when a current-gen version should really offer more, or at least the same. Throw in the fact that the microphone app doesn’t consistently work or the lack of party-fuelled game modes leaves a gaping hole, and you’ve got a lazy update to the SingStar franchise that disappoints. Nevertheless, if you love karaoke and aren’t afraid to get up to the microphone and have fun with friends, then there’s nothing else that rivals SingStar. At this point though, we’ll most likely be whipping out our feature-heavy, party-orientated PS2 version this Christmas. Shame.