Version tested: PlayStation 3
Being a woman, a terrific show-off and a part-time alcoholic, I love SingStar. So do lots of other people, judging by the fact Sony's still churning out new releases nearly five years on, by the fact that there are so many embarrassing videos on the internet, by the fact there are four hundred million songs on the SingStore, and by the fact Big Phil recently raided Sony for SingStar's mum, Paulina Bozek.
The latest batch includes SingStar Disney and SingStar Boy Bands vs. Girl Bands for PlayStation 2. There's also SingStar Vol. 3 for PlayStation 3, and SingStar Abba for both platforms (we reviewed the PS3 one because we're so next-gen).
Still no SingStar Yodelling, SingStar Bedingfield or SingStar NWA, but we live in hope.
Read on to find out what we made of the newest titles. There are also videos so you can see what we made of them (a pig's ear, obviously), and these hopefully illustrate how seriously we take these games and the "Method" we employ to get the most out of them.
Before we get onto that though, special thanks must go to Eurogamer MMO's Oli Welsh and friend-of-Eurogamer Pete for their amazing backing dancing.
And I'm sorry I said it definitely wouldn't go on the internet.
Here it is on the internet:
SingStar Vol. 3
If you've played the previous SingStar PS3 games, or read either of our reviews, you know the drill. Vol. 3 features 30 songs and videos plus six medleys. You can sing solo, do duets or battle it out with the various multiplayer modes. Plug in a PlayStation Eye camera and you can video yourself showing off, then upload the results to My SingStar Online. Then there's the SingStore, which gives you the option to download extra songs for 99p a pop and see your PlayStation wallet empty faster than the bottle of Smirnoff on the coffee table.
Vol. 3 carries an RRP of GBP 24.99, so you're essentially getting 30 songs for the price of 25. You don't get to choose which ones, of course, but there's a good selection here. Highlights include Billie Jean, Killer Queen and Copacabana, not to mention the spectacular All Night Long by Lionel Richie (see you at the O2 on 4th April, bossman!). There are also disco favourites such as Never Can Say Goodbye and You Make Me Feel Like Dancing, plus Temptation by Heaven 17.
If you like your music a bit more modern you'll probably enjoy Shut Up and Let Me Go by the Ting Tings, Sara Bareilles' Love Song and Oxford Comma by Vampire Weekend. There are also songs by newfangled types like Amy MacDonald, Gwen Stefani, Coldplay and Fall Out Boy.
The rest of the tracklist is comprised of random nineties stuff (Constant Craving, Baby I Don't Care), songs ideal for wailing girls (Babooshka) and howling boys (Kinky Afro, Space Oddity), and songs written by people who learned their language skills from the internet (Dance Wiv Me, The Way I Are). As you'd expect there's the usual handful of mediocre old tat, including Say What You Want by Texas and Breakfast at Tiffany's by those twats. Still, for every Fergie there's a Feargal Sharkey.
Not a bad selection, then, and all the features that have made the previous SingStar games so enjoyable are present and correct. However, there are still a few issues that ought to have been sorted out by now. For starters, where are the wireless mics? We were first promised them back in May 2006. Microsoft's Lips may not match up to SingStar overall, but its wireless mics light up and everything.
Then there's the problem of disc swapping. You still can't install SingStar songs to your hard drive - apparently this would be seen as copying, and would create a world of pain in terms of copyright and licensing issues.
There's also bad news for those of us who are terrific show-offs. You can upload videos you've made using the PlayStation Eye to PSN, which is what I did to make the montage accompanying this article. However, after I'd put up the first five videos, I found the option to upload simply disappeared from the menu with no explanation. The PlayStation Careline couldn't help (the first person I spoke to suggested I wipe the entire hard drive, the second told me to "Check the forums"). Google came to the rescue, though; after a bit of searching I worked out there's a "quota" for the number of videos you can upload, and the maximum number is five.
That seems extremely stingy, especially considering we're not talking whole videos. You can still only record clips of your performances, and there are still no editing options. The game randomly chooses which bits to record, so unless it was coincidentally captured you can't save that brilliant moment when the cat leapt out the window or the pint glass actually shattered.
All in all, the tracklisting for Vol. 3 is pretty good, and SingStar is as much fun as it's always been. But it ought to be a bit more fun by now, with wireless mics and proper video editing and less disc swapping. Here's hoping things will improve for Vol. 4.
All the same features, gameplay modes, online options and niggly issues as you'll find in Vol. 3 are present here. The big difference, of course, is that all of the songs on the disc are by Abba. If you're not a fan, move along.
If you are a fan, you won't be disappointed by the song selection. All the big numbers are here - Dancing Queen, Waterloo, Mamma Mia, Voulez-Vous, Super Trouper, etc etc etc. It's even got Does Your Mother Know?, a song which would cause outrage amongst anti-paediatrician campaigners were it to be released today.
There are also some less familiar but excellent tracks, such as Ring Ring and Summer Night City. The PS3 version of the game includes five exclusive bonus songs, all a bit more obscure, all great and not all of the cheery old disco persuasion. There's Happy New Year, the most depressing seasonal song ever written ("May we all have our hopes, our will to try / If we don't we might as well lay down and die") and the fantastic The Day Before You Came, plus Head Over Heels, Under Attack and When All is Said and Done.
That's still only 25 songs compared to Vol. 3's 30, though. so they could have been a little more generous. Personally I'd have liked to see cult classics Eagle and Tiger, or perhaps When I Kissed the Teacher ("Gonna teach him a lesson all right"). Not to mention Dum-Dum Diddle (To Be Your Fiddle), which features the legendary couplet "And you're only smiling / When you play your violin". Oh, and Put On Your White Sombrero, for obvious reasons.
But you can't really complain too much with more than two-dozen songs to choose from and all of Abba's greatest hits included. Plus of course, you get the videos, which are almost invariably hilarious. The haircuts alone make SingStar Abba worth the asking price.
This one's for PS2 only, but they've still managed to squeeze 25 tracks and five medleys onto the disc. There are undoubtedly some absolute classics to choose from, including A Whole New World, The Circle of Life, Bare Necessities and Cruella de Vil.
Unfortunately, however, the majority of songs are pretty mediocre - think You Can Fly!, Beauty and the Beast and He's a Tramp. A few are downright rubbish, such as Peter Pan's Follow the Leader and Kiss the Girl from The Little Mermaid. Not to mention Son of Man from Tarzan. Two words: Phil Collins.
Of course, many SingStar discs contain a few stinkers. But SingStar Abba doesn't, and Disney has a similarly massive back catalogue to choose from. As a result the absence of classics and the inclusion of filler tracks is more noticeable. Where's When You Wish Upon a Star? Why nothing from Mary Poppins or Snow White? Phil Collins?
At least there's the usual selection of party games to choose from - pass the mic, battle and duet. The game works with the EyeToy camera, and there's a neat feature where you can opt to see special effects during your performance - these include Bohemian Rhapsody-style image multiplications, crazy pixellation and, my favourite, sparkles around moving objects. You can also play back your voice recording and play about with the SFX options to make your voice robotic, wobbly, echoey, squeaky or deep.
You can save your voice performances but not video, even if you're playing on the PS3. Also a word of warning: there's no backwards compatibility patch for this title yet, so if you own one of the newer PS3 units you won't be able to play SingStar Disney at the moment. Plus, the game doesn't work with the PlayStation Eye, only the original EyeToy. Hmph.
SingStar Disney isn't quite as good as it ought to be. At least there are songs from throughout Disney history - it's just a shame not all of them are classics, and some of them are clearly fillers. You probably won't mind that much if you're nine, though. Besides, you'll probably be too excited about the fact your voice has gone like a robot and you can make all sparkles go everywhere.
SingStar Boy Bands vs. Girl Bands
Another PS2-only title, but this one's aimed at a more mature market. You can tell by the way the special effects are called things like "vibrato" and "reverb volume" instead of "wobbly" and "echoey".
There are 30 songs this time, half by girls and half by boys. Once again there's a good mix of tracks from different time periods - Bros and Bananarama feature alongside McFly and Mis-Teeq. There's not much variation in musical styles, though; it's either chirpy dancefloor fillers or sloppy ballads. But then that's generally true of boy and girl band music, innit.
There are some retro favourites here, including Hold On by Wilson Phillips and the Bangles' version of Eternal Flame. New Edition's Candy Girl makes an appearance, and there are even golden oldies such as Leader of the Pack and Stop (In the Name of Love). Once again, some of the selections are questionable. Is Say You'll Be There really the best-remembered Spice Girls song, or the one most people want to sing? But who cares, to be honest, when you've got The Show by Girls Aloud, 5ive's Keep On Movin' and MmmBop.
There are PS3 camera and backwards compatibility issues here, just as with SingStar Disney. But the tracklisting is a bit better, with more classics and fewer fillers. True, SingStar Boy Bands vs. Girl Bands is not for everyone. In other words, it's not for anyone who hates "manufactured" bands because they don't write their own songs. Which, you could argue, is a bit like hating the actors in the Royal Shakespeare Company because they don't write their own plays. For those of us who worship Westlife, miss Mel & Kim and are gay for Girls Aloud, this is a great purchase.