Platform: PlayStation 2
Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
No. of Players: 1-8
Hard Disk Space Required: 575KB
SingStar microphones required
EyeToy USB Camera Compatible
I have been to many weddings and closed down many clubs over the years and the one song which seems to always be included in the DJ’s rotation is Abba’s “Dancing Queen”. Not my personal favourite but the women always seemed to love it and nine times out of ten it would get my wobbly butt onto the dance floor. For those living under a rock, Abba was a huge Swedish pop band back in the 70’s and early 80’s and their legacy continues strong today. Now Abba has its own video game; well sort of. Abba represents Sony’s first band exclusive SingStar game. I am not sure why Abba was chosen as many of the under-30 crowd many not even recognize them. Well I had the chance to review the PS3 version of the all-Abba SingStar game just the other day and overall Abba fans will be happy. It is much of the same with the PS2 version however there are some exceptions. Read on.
Overall, the visuals in the game are about what I expected. It is not as clean looking as the PS3 version but it still is not bad for a PS2 game. SingStar Abba follows the same look and feel of other SingStar games. The only difference is that it is all about Abba. Aside from the Abba videos and opening presentation the game stays very true to the franchise. As a result, I don’t put much weight on the games visuals as SingStar games are not your typical style of such. SingStar is more a karaoke game with a few more bells and whistles. Nevertheless, SingStar Abba looks just as good as the other SingStar games as nothing has been enhanced or improved visually with this game.
My primary concern with the game rests with the look of some of those old Abba videos. The Abba videos are in standard definition and produced back in the days when Beta and VHS were just arriving on the scene. The grainy and blurred look was totally expected nevertheless it still looks shabby. Yes, I know they are older videos however I just expected them to be re-mastered or cleaned up a little. Heck, maybe if they look that bad why put them on the game at all? Makes me question again why Abba was chosen as Sony’s first band exclusive SingStar game.
Aside from some of the dated looking music videos, the rest of SingStar Abba delivers. First off the presentation of the game is very good. SingStar's menus are easy to navigate and they do look fantastic. Once you move past the main menu and jump into the song selection area, you are once again greeted with a slick looking song selection area. The album covers and other Abba artwork are displayed as you flip through your selections and you get a preview to the video before you make your selection. All in all SingStar Abba scores decent marks visually but the yucky looking videos really hold this game back.
In a karaoke or music/rhythm game the sound is arguably the most important aspect. Fortunately for Abba fans, SingStar Abba delivers in this department as well. All the songs and music video's are master tracks which gives the game instant credibility and authenticity. SingStar Abba features the bands most recognizable tunes which made the band an international smash hit. The songs themselves all sound terrific and come through crystal clear. I am not a huge Abba fan but my wife sure enjoyed singing and listening to those solid gold Abba tunes. She had no complaints with the sound and neither do I.
If you are one of the few who have not yet played a SingStar game, it is essentially a karaoke game which features a scoring system and the artist's music video playing in the background. Similar to the vocals in game like Rock Band or Guitar Hero World Tour, SingStar Abba for the PS2 has you sing along with music in order to score points. Users interface with the PS2 via the SingStar USB microphones. If you do not have the microphones from a previous edition of the franchise you can get the game with the two microphones and the USB adapter. The SingStar franchise does not measure how well you know the lyrics but rather uses a system which gauges your pitch (again similar to Rock Band or Guitar Hero World Tour). The pitch you are required to sing is displayed on horizontal bars and these bars correspond with the lyrics of the song. Your pitch is compared to the pitch of the artist(s) singing the song. The better your singing abilities (e.g. the better your pitch and timing) the better you score.
SingStar Abba for the PS2 only comes with 20 tracks out of the box which is about 5 less tracks than its PS3 counterpart and about 10 tracks less than most SingStar games. For me, that was more than enough Abba songs. Yet on the flip side, considering the $30.00 (MSRP) price tag for SingStar Abba, 20 tracks seems a tad skimpy. Ideally I would like to see a cheaper game with the existing set list or more tracks with the existing price. For those of you wondering, the game arrives out of the box with the following songs:
"Does Your Mother Know"
"Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)"
"I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do"
"Knowing Me, Knowing You"
"Money, Money, Money"
"One of Us"
"Summer Night City"
"Take a Chance on Me"
"Thank You for the Music"
"The Name of the Game"
"The Winner Takes It All"
Clearly, Abba fans will love this set list. SingStar Abba is clearly geared for Abba fans so I am sure there is something here for all those fans of the Swedish pop quartet. Other games such as Guitar Hero Aerosmith include a few tracks from other artists which raise the track number, and I think SingStar Abba could have benefitted from doing this, but alas they did not. On another sour note, there is no ability to download songs on the PS2. As a result, you are stuck with the existing set list if you are not willing or unable to upgrade to the PS3 Abba game at this point.
Another disappointing aspect of SingStar Abba, and all SingStar games thus far, is the fact there is no single player mode similar to what we have seen with the Rock Band and Guitar Hero franchises. Granted they are distinctly different games and I did like the fact I could play any of the 20 songs right for the get go in SingStar Abba. Nevertheless, a single player story mode or some sort of other mode featuring some unlockable content would have given me some good reason to play on my own, try to get better, suck it up and sing all the 20 songs. A SingStar tour mode would give the franchise a much needed boost.
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