Singstar 90's
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2008-04-02 PS2 Music/Rhythm T (Teen) SCEA / London Studio

Singstar Pop was my first experience with this karaoke franchise, and although I had a blast (particularly on the multiplayer modes), the music style wasn't really my thing, aside from a handful of songs in that compilation.

Singstar 90's proved to be much more interesting as far as song selection goes, so away I went to revive some old favorites that I remember from when I was in my teens.

Singstar 90's offers the exact same game modes: Solo, Party and Freestyle. The Solo gameplay is for you to explore on your own, pick a song, a difficulty mode (easy medium or hard) and away you go. Party lets you have duets, battles or some pass-the-mic fun with some friends. Freestyle can be played either solo or with a friend, but there's no scoring and no blue bars on the screen, just some good old karaoke. Again, the EyeToy option appears to put you on the screen or snap some photos to show how cool - or not - you are while singing. The Playback feature is still there too.

What I really like about the Singstar franchise is how we get to watch the music videos as we sing along. Some of these I had never set my eyes on, and it's pretty cool to see what kind of videos were being made over a decade ago.

The gameplay remains the same, with the pitch/length indicator on the screen, score meter on top and lyrics at the bottom. There is also a rap meter for rap songs, which is new to me. When the rap portion of a song begins, there is no pitch indicator on the screen (the blue bars, so to speak) but a meter that goes up or down depending on how well you're doing. I discovered I suck at rapping and should just stick to the other songs.

As far as the track list goes, I found quite a few familiar names and some I didn't know. I mean, New Kids on the Block... how could I not remember, there were two girls in my class in 9th grade who wouldn't shut up about them. They'd eat, drink and breathe NKOTB. NKOTB this, NKOTB that... They actually sang their Happy Birthday song to me on my birthday - wow, that was embarassing! Still it was pretty cool to reminisce with "Step by Step".

Tenchotronic's "Pump the Jam" and MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This" took me back to the afternoons spent with friends in aggressive bumper car chases. Good times.

Other favorites I found here were Natalia Imbruglia's "Torn", Extreme's "More Than Words", Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun", REM's oh-so-depressing "Everybody Hurts", Santana's "Smooth", Poison's "Unskinny Bop", Seal's "Kiss From a Rose", The Cranberries and their "Zombie", Vanilla's "Ice Ice Baby" and the Wilson Phillips (I just love "Hold On", used to sing it all the time - in the shower).

There were actually two songs that I knew so well, but had no idea what they were called, and I was really happy to find them in this game: Chumbawumba's "Tubthumping" and the Spin Doctor's "Two Princes".

I was only a bit disappointed to see that the fact sheet lied to me... there was no Aqua nor "Barbie Girl", no "Love Shack" by the B-52's, and there was no Spice Girls' "Wannabe". Now there's three other songs I like to sing along to, I still have them on my Windows Media Player playlist. Unfortunately, they're not part of the American release... lucky European singers.

If you belong to the 20-30 age group, you'll remember many if not all of the hits on Singstar 90's. And if you're into karaoke and fall in the previous category, you're probably running to get yourself a copy by now.

Beware though, if you're planning to play it on a plasma HDTV, you might run into some problems. At first, I thought it was because of the PS3 since this is a PS2 game, there was a 3-5 second delay from when I sang to when the game registered a note. It was impossible to synch with the actual lyrics. So I switched to the PS2 and connected it with only the original cables to see if that worked, but the same thing happened, only with not as much of a delay. About one second this time, so my own voice was coming through as an echo instead of in real-time. I even used a second PS2 to check it out, again the same one second delay. The entire elimination process helped me realize the problem could only be in the only thing that changed since the last time I played a Singstar game: the TV. Seems that plasma and LCD sets have a bit of a tougher time processing the image signal, which causes said delay from the time the PS2 sends the signal to when the TV actually displays it. The good news is, it still works fine on our projection TV, so I just need to connect it all in another room.

The only real problem with Singstar 90's is that it's exactly the same as previous titles, except for the songs. Still the same game modes, the same menus, no innovation at all. I'd still like to see a career mode with unlockable songs and my own medley creator. But Singstar works as what it's intended to: a karaoke party at home that provides fun for the whole family. And this one in particular for anyone over 20.

Special thanks to Kimberly Weber and SCEA for providing a copy of this title.