SingStar – PS3 – Preview 1

Barry Manilow claims responsibility for getting
people to sing. Whether or not you agree, Sony’s developers have him beat
three-to-one. Starting this fall they will release three new games that will
make the whole world sing: SingStar Amped, SingStar 80s, and SingStar for
PlayStation 3. The latest builds of each were shown to GameZone this weekend at
a media event held in Chicago during Lollapalooza.

That latter of the bunch, SingStar PS3, is going
to be a new direction for the series, starting with a lineup of music that
doesn’t end with the 30 tracks built into the disc. Using the connectivity
functions of the PlayStation network, SingStar players can go online with their
PS3s and upload their favorite performances (film yourself using the PlayStation
Eye, EyeToy’s PS3 sequel), view other user videos, and download any of the
hundreds of songs Sony plans to make available through the SingStore, an online
portal for acquiring new music tracks.

It has not been revealed which songs
will be available online. Licensing is a huge part of the game’s development,
and the developers aren’t allowed to commit to anything without getting approval
from all parties involved (musicians, record labels, all owners of each song,
etc.). But with Weezer’s “Buddy Holly,” The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside,” and
R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion” as three of the confirmed tracks to ship on the
disc, you can bet the online selection will feature several powerhouse hits.
Additionally, Sony intends to use SingStar as a venue for indie bands to share
their music with the world.


Online Time

SingStar will enter a new dimension for music and
gaming with the My SingStar Online. Once online you’ll gain access to modes like
My Profile, Spotlight and My Online Gallery. My Profile is the MySpace of the
SingStar world – tout your favorite song, musician, and more. In Spotlight,
players will get to take a look at who is currently a star in the game world
(top performances presumably).

And if you want to share your best or worst
performances with the world, My Online Gallery is the place to be. Upload your
video and audio to show ‘em what you’ve got. Encore features – new song, video
playback, audio playback, golden moments (recorded videos), and snapshot (still
images from your performance) – appear after every performance.

User-rated content is currently being considered.
If it’s given the green light, players will be able to vote on each other’s

Diehard SingStar fans will notice a few small
changes in the game’s presentation, starting with the menus, which now have the
same cool, overlapping window effect used in PS3’s browser area (where you
select between games, music, videos, etc.). Also, the white bar that covers the
top half of the PS2 games has been removed and the bottom bar has been reduced
in size.

The bars were bumped for a true widescreen
presentation. When playing SingStar PS3 on a high-def television, you’ll get a
clearer, crisper image that fills out the entire screen. Older videos won’t show
many differences due to technology limitations. Anything before the 90s is going
to look dated. But you’ll still get the best picture possible from the PS3
version. Better yet, SingStar supports high-def videos. None have been confirmed
for the game, but Sony says that they will offer them whenever possible, either
on the disc or via the SingStore.

SingStar is by far one of the most universally
appealing video game franchises, and that appeal will only broaden with each new
arrival. This was the first game event I attended where, had my non-gaming
family and friends been able to join in, I’m certain they would have been glued
to every kiosk. Glued, but not stuck – we jumped, danced, and sung till our
throats could no longer take it. And when the night was over, all we could think
about was the time we’d get to do it again. I have never before had this much
fun NOT using a controller.

We’ll be bringing you more from Sony’s
Lollapalooza media event all week long, including more previews, interviews with
the producers of SingStar, Buzz!: The Mega Quiz, a chat with Blue October,
photos from the show, and more. Stay tuned.