SingStar

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This article concerns the video game series as a whole. For the first edition for the PS3, see SingStar (PlayStation 3).
SingStar
SingStar logo.svg
SingStar logo
Genres Party
Developers London Studio
Publishers Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
First release SingStar
May 2004
Latest release SingStar Back to the 80s
October 2011
Official website http://www.singstar.com

SingStar is a competitive music video game series for PlayStation consoles, developed by London Studio and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. Dozens of instalments were released for the PlayStation 2, and several more for the PlayStation 3. The games have also undergone a number of non-English releases in various European countries.

SingStar games are distributed either as the software alone, or bundled with a pair of USB microphones – one red, one blue; wireless microphones are also available. The games are compatible with the EyeToy and PlayStation Eye cameras, allowing players to see themselves singing.

Overview[edit]

Gameplay[edit]

Screenshot from SingStar Rocks!, featuring the song "Dakota" by Stereophonics. Player 1 is shown in blue, while Player 2 is shown in red.

SingStar games require players to sing along with music in order to score points. Players interface with their console via SingStar microphones while a music video plays in the background. The pitch players are required to sing is displayed as horizontal grey bars, which function similar to a musical stave, with corresponding lyrics displayed at the bottom of the screen. The game analyses a player's pitch and compares it to the original track, with players scoring points based on how accurate their singing is. Different modes of SingStar may vary this basic pattern, but the principle is similar throughout.

SingStar includes a variety of game modes. The standard singing mode allows one or two people to sing simultaneously, either competitively or in a duet. The game also offers a "Pass the Mic" mode, which allows up to eight people to play a series of rounds in two teams. The original SingStar for PlayStation 2 also featured "Star Maker", a single player career mode, however this was dropped in subsequent releases due to the popularity of the multiplayer and party modes.[1]

The PlayStation 3 versions of the game also support trophies, earned through achieving specific objectives.

Track lists[edit]

Most SingStar games for PlayStation 2 differ only in the track list contained on the game disc. SingStar games typically ship with 30 songs.[2] Individual SingStar games are loosely based upon genres, such as rock or pop music (SingStar Rocks! and SingStar Pop respectively). SingStar games are sometimes localised for release in different regions, with customised track lists to suit foreign markets and territories. In addition, a number of non-English language SingStar games have been released exclusively in some European countries.

All SingStar games (except the original SingStar and Singalong with Disney for PlayStation 2) allow players to swap out the current disc (called the master disc) for another SingStar disc. This allows access to the songs on other versions without the need to reset the console; it also allows PS2 SingStar discs to be played on a PS3, regardless of its PS2 backwards compatibility status, by starting with a PS3 master disc.[3][4] When a new disc is swapped in, the game retains the functionality and appearance of the master disc. By starting with a new version, players can swap in their old SingStar disc and experience them with the functionality and cosmetics of the master disc.

Network features[edit]

The PlayStation 3 version of SingStar introduced a number of online features, accessed through the PlayStation Network. Users are able to purchase songs online from the SingStore, allowing them to expand their current music selection. The SingStore launched with 41 songs,[5] with 1044 songs currently available for download.[6] All music videos are currently in standard definition, although videos will be offered in high definition if possible.[7]

My SingStar Online is the online community component of SingStar for the PlayStation 3. The idea for My SingStar Online was inspired by people uploading photos and videos of SingStar parties to websites such as Flickr and YouTube.[8] The game will record photos and videos of players singing with the PlayStation Eye (or other compatible USB camera), which can then be saved to the PlayStation's HDD or uploaded to the My SingStar Online network. Users are able to rate each other's performances and leave comments on other people's profiles.

Releases[edit]

Over 70 SingStar SKUs have been released worldwide, including 16 titles in the United Kingdom and Australia, and 10 titles in North America. In addition, a number of non-English titles have been released exclusively in some European countries, including Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Finland and The Netherlands. While the majority of SingStar titles are for the PlayStation 2 platform, a number were released for the PlayStation 3. There is also an upcoming game titled SingStar Ultimate Party in development for both the PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation 4.

Titles in the SingStar Series
Title PS2 PS3 PS4 EU Release Date NA Release Date AUS Release Date
SingStar PS2 N/A N/A 21 May 2004 21 May 2004
SingStar Party PS2 N/A N/A 19 November 2004 26 November 2004
SingStar Pop PS2 N/A N/A 13 May 2005 3 April 2007 23 June 2005
SingStar The Dome PS2 N/A N/A 1 May 2005
SingStar '80s PS2 N/A N/A 4 November 2005 18 September 2007 10 November 2005
SingStar Rocks! PS2 N/A N/A 13 April 2006 14 November 2006 13 April 2006
SingStar Anthems PS2 N/A N/A 4 August 2006 27 July 2006
SingStar Legends PS2 N/A N/A 27 October 2006 28 October 2008 [9] 2 November 2006
SingStar Pop Hits PS2 N/A N/A 27 April 2007 21 June 2007
SingStar '90s PS2 N/A N/A 3 August 2007 19 March 2008 9 August 2007
SingStar Amped PS2 N/A N/A 18 September 2007 14 August 2008
SingStar Rock Ballads PS2 N/A N/A 21 September 2007 27 September 2007
SingStar R&B PS2 N/A N/A 26 October 2007 25 October 2007
SingStar Summer Party PS2 N/A N/A 25 April 2008
SingStar Party Hits PS2 N/A N/A 29 May 2008
SingStar Pop Vol. 2 PS2 N/A N/A 23 September 2008
SingStar Hottest Hits PS2 N/A N/A 25 September 2008
SingStar BoyBands Vs GirlBands PS2 N/A N/A 17 October 2008[10] December 2009 26 November 2009
SingStar Country PS2 N/A N/A 28 October 2008 [9]
SingStar Singalong with Disney PS2 N/A N/A 7 November 2008 6 November 2008
SingStar Wiggles PS2 N/A N/A 27 May 2010
SingStar N/A PS3 N/A 7 December 2007 20 May 2008 [11] 6 December 2007
SingStar Vol. 2 N/A PS3 N/A 20 June 2008 28 October 2008 19 June 2008
SingStar Vol. 3 N/A PS3 N/A 14 November 2008 20 November 2008
SingStar Pop Edition [12] N/A PS3 N/A 1 May 2009 2009 2009
SingStar ABBA PS2 PS3 N/A 14 November 2008 2 December 2008 20 November 2008
SingStar Queen PS2 PS3 N/A 20 March 2009 4 August 2009 20 March 2009
SingStar Motown PS2 PS3 N/A 18 September 2009 17 September 2009
SingStar Chart Hits PS2 PS3 N/A 1 July 2010
SingStar Take That PS2 PS3 N/A 6 November 2009[13][14]
SingStar Latino PS2 PS3 N/A 19 November 2009
SingStar Dance N/A PS3 N/A 5 November 2010 9 November 2010 11 November 2010
SingStar Guitar N/A PS3 N/A 13 October 2010 2 October 2010
SingStar Back to the 80s N/A PS3 N/A 28 October 2011
SingStar Ultimate Party N/A PS3 PS4 TBA TBA TBA

SingStar Dance and SingStar Guitar[edit]

At E3 2010, Sony announced that SingStar would be expanding its audience with the release of SingStar Dance and SingStar Guitar. In addition to singing, the first game adds a dancing element using the PlayStation Move controller, while the second allows players to play guitar using any compatible guitar controller.[15] Guitar was released in October 2010, while Dance was released the following month. As of September 2012, no further titles have been released in either series.

Free-to-play[edit]

On 23 October 2012, Sony announced that SingStar would become free-to-play, via a free SingStar application to be included in the next PlayStation 3 software update.[16] New features include the ability to use the PlayStation Eye as a microphone, and new Trophies. Songs can be played from PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3 retail discs (but cannot be copied onto the Hard Drive), as well as songs bought from the SingStore.

PlayStation 3 firmware 4.30 was released 24 October 2012.[16] This release caused some complaints, as the application icon was made mandatory for all European PlayStation 3 users, and cannot be removed from the XMB menu.[17] Various petitions have been started in response to the new icon, but no changes have been made as of today.[citation needed]

Development[edit]

Initial design[edit]

The technology behind SingStar began as a research project into sound input by SCE London Studio's prototyping department.[18] The project was initially focused on developing a pitch detection system and game concepts aimed at a children's audience. Two main game concepts were developed: Songlines, a third-person adventure game in which the player would sing to unlock new environments, and SingAlong Safari, where players would complete missions by singing along with animals.[19]

In 2003, the game underwent a direction change. The new concept featured contemporary music videos, and would use two microphones to allow for multiplayer scenarios.[20] A prototype game was developed, which included pitch detection technology, a basic interface display, a scoring system and samples of (then unlicensed) music. The first game demonstration took place at a Team SCEE conference in Paris, featuring the songs "Wonderwall" by Oasis and "Independent Women" by Destiny's Child.[19]

Hardware[edit]

SingStar USB microphones

The SingStar games require SingStar-branded microphones – one red and one blue – which connect to the PlayStation console via a single USB converter. The USB converter was required so that both microphones would use a single USB port; the PlayStation 2 and later versions of the PlayStation 3 only have two USB ports, and the second port needed to remain free for camera functionality.[21] The PlayStation 2 Headset was originally considered as an alternative to microphones, however the headset was not technically sufficient, and London Studio felt that handheld microphones were important to the authentic experience.[19]

Wireless microphones, with a 2.4 GHz receiver attached to the PS2 or PS3 by USB, became available in Europe in March 2009.[22] Bluetooth microphones were originally planned to launch with the PS3 version of SingStar, but running two Bluetooth microphones together was found to be difficult, so the PS3 game launched with the same USB microphones as the PS2 game.[23]

Audio technology[edit]

The microphones detect pitch using digital signal processing, which analyses the frequency of the incoming signal via Fast Fourier transform. The frequency is then compared to stored information to evaluate if the note is correct. Regular singing segments do not feature speech recognition, and so humming into the microphones at the correct pitch will also score points.[2] Rap sections use a combination of speech recognition and rhythm detection.[24]

Tracks on the original SingStar for PlayStation 2 were mixed from master records, which allowed the artist's voice to be completely removed from the song. This feature was dropped in subsequent games because the requirement for master tracks would have restricted the studio's choice of songs.[23] SingStar for PlayStation 3 introduced the ability to digitally suppress vocals, using ADRess (Azimuth Discrimination and Resynthesis) technology developed by Dan Barry at the Audio Research Group, based in the Dublin Institute of Technology. The ADRess settings vary for each track, and the technology is able to successfully remove the vocal tracks from 80% of songs.[25]

The PlayStation 3 version also includes various VST plugins developed by Sound Forge, adapted to run natively on the console. The input signal undergoes a vocal signal chain which includes high-pass filter, wave hammer compressor and a reverb with a 1.2 second decay. Users are able to control the audio processing during playback, adding features such as pitch shifting.[25]

PlayStation Home[edit]

On 24 September 2009, SCE London Studios launched a themed space in the PlayStation 3's online community-based service, PlayStation Home. The space is called "The SingStar Rooms" and features a dance floor, a jukebox, and different rewards for the users.[26] This is available to the European and North American versions of PlayStation Home.

There is also a VIP Room. The VIP Room is used for events. The first event was for the UK rapper Dizzee Rascal, a Mercury Award Winner, and occurred from 24 September 2009 to 9 October 2009.[27] Dizzee performed for the PS Home/SingStar community and answered questions for an hour after the performance. There were also limited time items at this space like a Dizzee Mask. This was available to the European and North American versions of PlayStation Home, however, Dizzee only appeared in the European version to answer questions.[28]

The VIP Room reopened on 17 December 2009 until 14 January 2010 for Christmas with a new mini-game and a reward.[29]

Marketing[edit]

The SingStar series has been promoted through a number of advertising platforms, including television and cinema, print and digital advertising. SingStar advertisements are designed to convey the social aspects of the game. The advertisement for the PAL release SingStar Rocks! features two men singing Song 2 by Blur on a public rooftop, while onlookers watch in surprise.[30] Tony McTear, creative director of the advert, said that "the commercial really captures the spirit of the game."[31] Similar style advertisements were created for the American launch of SingStar Rocks!, which feature public performances in a mall,[32] a subway,[33] and a fire escape.[34]

In September 2006, SingStar took part in a television sponsorship deal with MTV in the United Kingdom. SingStar sponsored MTV's Throwdown program, which consisted of a 3 minute clip of viewers lip syncing to a song. Viewers were requested to upload a video of themselves singing to the SingStar-branded MTV Flux website, with a compilation of the most viewed videos being shown on Throwdown.[35] The campaign ran until February 2007, and resulted in a 15% boost in SingStar sales.[36]

In 2009 during the airing of Australian Idol in Australia Singstar was advertised every time the show aired.

In 2012 Julian Hill became A Guinness World record holder for his 24 hours 23 minutes continuous play of SingStar games. This charity Event, Known as 'SingStar The Endurance Challenge' raised over £3,000 for Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital,[37] and made Julian Hill an Internet Celebrity.[38]

SingStar's advertising campaigns have targeted a variety of demographics typically ignored by the gaming industry. The games have received coverage in women's and girls' magazines, including Heat and Harpers and Queen in the United Kingdom.[39] In 2004, Sony PlayStation launched its first online advertising campaign targeted towards teenage girls,[40] and in 2006 ran an advertisement in Attitude targeted towards gay males.[41]

Reception[edit]

Aggregate Reviews
Game Game Rankings[42] MetaCritic[43]
SingStar
84%
82/100
SingStar Party
74%
77/100
SingStar Pop
76%
74/100
SingStar '80s
UK: 79%
US:78%
78/100
SingStar Rocks!
71%
71/100
SingStar Anthems
63%
65/100
SingStar Legends
78%
78/100
SingStar Pop Hits
79%
77/100
SingStar '90s
74%
73/100
SingStar Amped
78%
76/100
SingStar Rock Ballads
73%
73/100
SingStar R&B PT 1
70%
70/100
singstar R&B PT 2
73%
74/100
SingStar Summer Party
74%
73/100
SingStar Hottest Hits
76%
79/100
SingStar BoyBands vs GirlBands
79%
78/100
SingStar Abba (PS2)
70%
65/100
SingStar Singalong with Disney
68%
69/100
SingStar Queen (PS2)
76%
76/100
SingStar (PS3)
83%
82/100
SingStar Vol. 2 (PS3)
81%
80/100
SingStar Vol. 3 (PS3)
70%
65/100
SingStar Abba (PS3)
68%
69/100
SingStar Queen (PS3)
77%
76/100
SingStar Pop Edition (PS3)
75%
72/100
Singstar Motown (PS2)
83%
81/100

The SingStar series has been largely successful in Europe and Australia, and has collectively sold over 16 million units in the PAL region,[44] and an additional 1.5 million units in the United States.[45] Over 4 million songs have been downloaded from the online SingStore.[44] In 2005, SingStar and SingStar Party jointly received the award for originality at the BAFTA Games Awards.[46]

Critical reception[edit]

The first SingStar game was well received by gaming critics. Eurogamer described it as the "definitive social game", and commented that the game was "buffed, polished and arranged to generate the maximum degree of entertainment." They did however criticise the scoring system for occasionally getting out of sync with the song.[47] Australian website PALGN described the single-player as "a little lacklustre", but praised the multiplayer component as "the best asset of SingStar" and described the game as "addictive."[48]

SingStar debuted in the US with the release of SingStar Rocks!, where it was compared against the Karaoke Revolution series. IGN criticised the lack of ability to remove the artists vocals, and said that the use of original music videos "hurt the ability to really get lost in the song." They also described SingStar's interface as a "crude hacked together system" compared to the scrolling timeline interface of Karaoke Revolution.[49] 1UP criticised the lack of character generation, rewards and unlockable features, and said SingStar "[lacks] the 'game' feel of Karaoke Revolution."[50]

A number of PlayStation 2 titles have offered additional gameplay features. The duet mode added in SingStar Party was described as "hit and miss [with some songs split] into 'fun bits' and 'boring bits' seemingly on purpose."[51] The rapping segments introduced in SingStar Pop were described as "the hardest parts of the entire game", and were a feature which added variety to the series.[52] SingStar Pop also introduced Medleys, which consist of a random combination of song choruses. The new medleys were described as "funny to watch, and intense to play", although potentially frustrating.[53]

The main difference between PlayStation 2 SingStar titles is the track list contained on the game disc. Some SingStar track lists have been better received than others. Eurogamer described the UK track list for SingStar Legends as "simultaneously eclectic and fantastic",[54] whereas SingStar Pop Hits felt like "a loosely thrown together collection of what the charts say is cool, with little regard for what will make for a fun karaoke party."[55] The localisation of some SingStar games also has played a part in their reception; PALGN praised the localised Australian content in SingStar Rocks!,[56] whereas SingStar Pop Hits (which featured an almost identical track list to the UK release) had songs Australians had never heard of.[57]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Q&A: SingStar senior producer Paulina Bozek". Yahoo!. Retrieved 10 December 2007. 
  2. ^ a b "Interview with SingStar Producer Paulina Bozek". GamePro Australia. 5 July 2004. Retrieved 10 December 2007. 
  3. ^ "Exciting News on SingStar Backwards Compatibility!". PlayStation Blog (U.S.). 16 December 2008. Retrieved 16 December 2011. 
  4. ^ "PS3 SingStar to get PS2 disc swapping, new downloads". Neowin.net. 8 December 2008. Retrieved 16 December 2011. 
  5. ^ Van Leuveren, Luke (6 December 2007). "Australian Singstar Store launches". PALGN. Retrieved 10 December 2007. 
  6. ^ "Singstore". 1 January 2009. 
  7. ^ "Why SingStar PS3 is the Future". Kikizo. 22 May 2007. Retrieved 10 December 2007. 
  8. ^ Mason, Kevin (16 April 2007). "My SingStar Online". IGN. Retrieved 17 June 2007. 
  9. ^ a b "Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, ABBA and Universal Music Announce Collaboration on SingStar" (Press release). SCEE. 10 September 2008. Retrieved 10 September 2008. 
  10. ^ Template:Citation web
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  12. ^ "SingStar World Forum ? SingStar: Pop Edition (UK)". Singstar.invisionplus.net. 5 February 2009. Retrieved 10 November 2010. 
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  14. ^ "Singstar Take That PS3". uk.playstation.com. Retrieved 21 June 2010. 
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  16. ^ a b "Get ready for SingStar on the XMB!". Sony Entertainment Europe. 23 October 2012. Retrieved 18 January 2013. 
  17. ^ Chubb, Daniel (29 October 2012). "Remove SingStar icon from XMB say PS3 users". product-reviews.net. Retrieved 19 January 2013. 
  18. ^ Cocker, Guy (25 July 2006). "Q&A: SingStar senior producer Paulina Bozek". GameSpot. Retrieved 11 December 2007. 
  19. ^ a b c Carless, Simon (2 September 2005). "Postcard from GDC Europe 2005: SingStar - That's Entertainment". Gamasutra. Retrieved 11 December 2007. 
  20. ^ "Paulina Bozek - Senior Producer". Skillset. Archived from the original on 3 December 2007. Retrieved 10 December 2007. 
  21. ^ Bates, Richard (19 February 2007). "Pass the Mic". Sony_SingStar's Blog. IGN. Retrieved 11 December 2007. 
  22. ^ Description of wireless mics on PlayStation UK site
  23. ^ a b Mason, Kevin (16 July 2007). "Your SingStar Questions Answered!". Sony_SingStar's Blog. IGN. Retrieved 11 December 2007. 
  24. ^ Bedigian, Louis. "Striking a Chord with SingStar Pop’s Tamsin Lucas". GameZone. Retrieved 11 December 2007. 
  25. ^ a b Broomhall, John (3 April 2008). "Heard About: SingStar PS3". Develop Magazine. Retrieved 19 April 2008. 
  26. ^ "PlayStation Home SingStar Rooms Launch on September 24th, Buzz! Game Launching Support Announced". SCE. 
  27. ^ "Home Dizzee Rascal VIP Room". SCE. 
  28. ^ "SingStar Rooms, Dizzee Rascal Event, Far Cry 2 Updates and Katamari Forever in Home". SCE. 
  29. ^ Locust_Star (16 December 2009). "This Week in PlayStation Home: Star Trek, Monty Python, LBP, SingStar Xmas VIP Room & UNCHARTED 2 Contest". Sony Computer Entertainment. Retrieved 16 December 2009. 
  30. ^ Canavan, Avril (7 April 2007). "TBWA\LONDON launches Sony PlayStation’s ‘SingStar Rocks’ through international TV Campaign". TBWA\LONDON. Retrieved 12 December 2007. 
  31. ^ "SingStar Rocks commercial". mad.co.uk. 21 April 2006. Retrieved 12 December 2007. 
  32. ^ "mall 30". MySpaceTV Videos. 19 December 2006. Retrieved 12 December 2007. 
  33. ^ "subway 30". MySpaceTV Videos. 19 December 2006. Retrieved 12 December 2007. 
  34. ^ "fire escape 15". MySpace TV Videos. 19 December 2006. Retrieved 12 December 2007. 
  35. ^ "invENTS at Manning Gottlieb OMD develops groundbreaking TV sponsorship campaign for SingStar on PlayStation 2" (Press release). MTV Networks. August 2007. Retrieved 12 December 2007. 
  36. ^ "Introducing PlayStation to the female market". UTalkMarketing. Retrieved 12 December 2007. 
  37. ^ "Online Charity Collection". Just Giving. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  38. ^ Phillips, Tom. "Staff Writer". EuroGamer. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  39. ^ Hill, Jason (31 March 2005). "Boys' zone". The Age. Fairfax Digital. Retrieved 12 December 2007. 
  40. ^ "PlayStation taps into girls' market for SingStar game". New Media Age. 27 May 2004. 
  41. ^ Sliwinski, Alexander (19 October 2006). "British gay gamers get pitched". Joystiq. Retrieved 12 December 2007. 
  42. ^ "Rankings". Game Rankings. Retrieved 19 August 2008. 
  43. ^ "Search Results". Metacritic. Retrieved 19 August 2008. 
  44. ^ a b "SingStar reaches 4 million downloaded tracks". el33tonline. 16 March 2009. Retrieved 16 March 2009. 
  45. ^ Kennedy, Sam (20 April 2008). "Previews: SingStar". 1UP. Retrieved 3 May 2008. 
  46. ^ "2nd Annual BAFTA Games Awards Winners Announced". Gameinfowire.com. 3 March 2005. Retrieved 25 April 2008. 
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  48. ^ Van Leuveran, Luke (28 June 2004). "SingStar review". PALGN. Retrieved 25 April 2008. 
  49. ^ Lewis, Ed (14 November 2006). "SingStar Rocks! Review". IGN. Retrieved 25 April 2008. 
  50. ^ Chu, Karen (27 November 2006). "Reviews: SingStar Rocks". 1UP. Retrieved 25 April 2008. 
  51. ^ Bramwell, Tom (9 November 2004). "SingStar Party review". Eurogamer. Retrieved 25 April 2008. 
  52. ^ Van Leuveran, Luke (3 June 2005). "SingStar Pop review". PALGN. Retrieved 25 April 2008. 
  53. ^ Hamer-Morton, James (25 May 2005). "SingStar Popworld review". Boomtown. Retrieved 25 April 2008. 
  54. ^ Fahey, Rob (1 November 2006). "SingStar Legends Review". Eurogamer. Retrieved 25 April 2008. 
  55. ^ Fahey, Rob (11 April 2007). "SingStar Pop Hits review". Eurogamer. Retrieved 25 April 2008. 
  56. ^ Van Leuveran, Luke (6 May 2006). "SingStar Rocks! review". PALGN. Retrieved 25 April 2008. 
  57. ^ Van Leuveran, Luke (2 July 2007). "SingStar Pop Hits review". PALGN. 

External links[edit]