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About Brian Dumlao

After spending several years doing QA for games, I took the next logical step: critiquing them. Even though the Xbox 360 is my preferred weapon of choice, I'll play and review just about any game from any genre on any system.

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PS3 Review - 'Disney Sing It'

by Brian Dumlao on Dec. 2, 2008 @ 2:43 a.m. PST

Disney Sing It is a new karaoke video game that allows fans to perform more than 35 songs from Camp Rock, High School Musical, Hannah Montana, Miley Cyrus, Aly & AJ, Jesse McCartney and more.

Genre: Rhythm/Music
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
Developer: Zoë Mode
Release Date: October 21, 2008

The music/rhythm genre has become the new big gaming genre over the past few years, and with good reason. Unlike most genres, music and rhythm games don't require too much player skill to be fun. All you really need to do is follow the on-screen patterns as best as you can, and you'll finish a level in no time. The featured songs are done by artists that people know about, which makes it a game genre that both casual and hardcore players can enjoy. This is especially true of singing games, since all you need is a microphone, a song and a desire to belt out some tunes. For some time now, the Karaoke Revolution and the SingStar franchises have been the only choices for people who want to sing but don't want to play with plastic instruments. Disney Interactive Studios and Zoë Mode have released Disney Sing It, a karaoke title that is focused on delivering a music/rhythm experience to youngsters.

The first thing to keep in mind when talking about Disney Sing It is that the song selection stems from the Disney Channel movies and musicians from the Walt Disney/Hollywood Records labels. You won't find songs from "Snow White" or "The Little Mermaid" in here. You will find, however, songs from "Camp Rock," "High School Musical" and "Aly & AJ." As long as you come into the game with no expectations of singing songs from the old live action or animated movies, you'll be fine.

Disney Sing It is a very straightforward experience that borrows heavily from Sony's SingStar series while also taking parts from both Konami's Karaoke Revolution franchise and Microsoft's Lips. After choosing one of 35 songs to sing, players try to fill in the vocal tubes presented on-screen by singing the displayed lyrics into the microphone. The height of the vocal tube determines just how high or low of a pitch the player must deliver to score well for that section. While all of this is going on, the music video for the selected song plays in the background. At the end of the song, the player is given the final score and a rating for how well he or she did.

At first glance, the game mechanics carry plenty of SingStar influence. The system of filling in lyrical tubes will have PS3 players immediately thinking about Sony's karaoke series. However, influences from other games are also present. Disney Sing It makes use of the PlayStation Eye to replace the music videos with live images of the players, much like Karaoke Revolution does, and it also has a multiplier system for when players happen to sing consecutive phrases with a very high rating. Instead of just blindly singing and hoping to get the pitch immediately, there is a line with a singing dot on it to help you match the required pitch, just like Microsoft's new singing game, Lips.

The title also one-ups the competition by displaying the lyrics for both players during gameplay. This is very beneficial to Duet mode, since some songs have completely different lyrics for each singer during the chorus. Finally, in Solo mode, the user has the ability to go ahead and sing specific portions of the song, perfect for practicing how to sing lyrics in Duet mode. By taking some of the best elements from other singing games as well as adding in some good elements of their own, Disney Sing It ends up doing a fairly solid job.

Despite the praise heaped on the game, Disney Sing It has a few big flaws. When browsing through the song list, the highlighted song doesn't play a sample so that people can immediately figure out if they want to sing it or not. Instead, the game starts playing the music video from the beginning until the very end. Not only is this confusing, but it also stops people from having to sing the song since all they need to do is browse through the menus to see all of the videos and hear all of the songs. Navigation through the songs is imprecise, since the user needs to hold down the d-pad in order to browse the selection. Simply tapping the arrow keys does nothing but repeat the song.

When you're singing a song, the indicator on the lyrics that tells you when to start singing isn't exactly the clearest thing out there. As a result, don't be surprised to see plenty of late starts to some lyrics, unless the players know exactly when it should begin. When a song is finished, instead of starting the selection at the last song sung, the selection goes all the way back to the beginning of the list so you can start the process all over again.

Finally, like SingStar, there is nothing to unlock in Disney Sing It. There are no alternative themes, new songs or alternate videos to open. Unless you like singing the available songs for hours on end, you'll only play this for short bursts at a time. Considering that the flaws listed here all occur in the core gameplay, first-time players to this genre will have a tougher time adjusting than if they were to start with other rhythm games.

Disney Sing It features a few basic modes that service the game well enough. Single-player mode has four different subsets. Solo mode has the player singing any one of the 35 available songs, while Gig mode has the player putting together a setlist of songs so they don't have to keep going back to the song selection menu each time a song is finished. Sing It Pro is simply a large tutorial section where players can learn how to sing more effectively. This is something that ends up being very beneficial, and it's a great addition that's aimed for kids. You're On Your Own takes away all of the on-screen elements and has the player try to attain as high a score as possible without any help.

Multiplayer mode features a duet mode and versus mode, which are pretty self-explanatory. Gig mode is just like the one found in single-player mode, while Team Play constructs tournaments for versus or cooperative play for up to eight players. Outside of the options and the chance to change themes, that's it. The game features no online mode whatsoever and no way to save or watch any performances taken with the PlayStation Eye. While the lack of online gameplay may be understandable since karaoke is usually best with people at your house, this also means that there is no way to expand the song library with more Disney songs.

There is no way for players to save or share any performances they have, dispelling the opportunity to create a community of singers like SingStar has. Curiously, the game has a Quick Play mode, where the player selects to play either Solo, Duet or Versus mode before picking a song. Considering that these are the same features in single-player and multiplayer modes, and you must drill down through the same number of menus before you can start singing, this menu option seems rather pointless to have.

While games of this ilk don't exactly need excellent graphics to succeed, Disney Sing It does a few things to make it easy on the eyes. The lyrics are easy to see, and they appear on the HUD for both players so that both people will see what they have to sing. Every single music video is displayed in HD, something that even the bigger karaoke games can't claim. About the only flaw apparent here deals with the vocal pitch guide. While it doesn't happen too often, there are times when the guide doesn't accurately display where the pitch is at. This results in periods when the vocal tube gets filled even though the indicator shows that the pitch is way below the tube.

Link all rhythm titles, the sound must be good in order to be even remotely playable. In the case of Disney Sing It, the sound is great. At the default levels, the music and vocal from the mics come in at the right volume, and the original vocal track doesn't overpower the vocals coming from the mics. The music is clear and makes great use of Dolby Digital. As a bonus, while the game will work with regular USB microphones, PS3 owners can also use their SingStar microphones to play the game.

Disney Sing It is a flawed but ultimately fun experience. Because the game mechanics are solid in comparison to some of the other karaoke titles on the market, your enjoyment of this offering will depend solely on whether you like the song selection. If you are a fan of songs from The Disney Channel, add a point to the score. You'll have a blast singing along with the featured songs from some of your favorite movies and artists. If you absolutely loathe that network and its content, then subtract a point from the score because listening to the songs on this compilation may hurt your ears. If you don't care either way, take the score for what it is. There will be a few songs you'll end up singing and enjoying, but you'll want to move on to other games fairly quickly for some meatier content.

Score: 7.0/10

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