Throughout its run on the PlayStation 2, the SingStar franchise has remained largely consistent - each release uses essentially the same formula with a different song pack. From Rocks, to Pop, to 80's, and pretty much everything in between, there hasn't been a lot of variation. However, with the release of the 90's edition, I've found my favourite PS2 SingStar release to date.
The premise of the game is quite simple: using a microphone, you'll perform karaoke to a selected song as the words scroll across the screen. The game measures your timing and pitch and, in the end, rates your performance. Depending on the level of difficulty, you'll find yourself ranked anywhere from Tone Deaf, all the way up to Sing Star. Up to two microphones can be connected for two-player co-operative or competitive modes, and the game also offers a pass-the-mic party mode with support for up to eight players.
Frankly, it's the song list that makes 90's my personal favourite of all the PS2 editions. Growing up in the 80's, I really got into music in the early 90's. Featuring the likes of Chumbawumba, Nirvana, MC Hammer, REM, Soundgarden, and Vanilla Ice (to name a small handful), SingStar 90's offers the best collection of tracks to date. Then again, music is very subjective, and if you wish the 90's would simply disappear from your memory, then it's not likely to pique your interest.
With the music genre breaking out so extensively over the last couple of years, this isn't the only game that offers interactive vocals - Karaoke Revolution and the ever-present Rock Band does voice (and much more), yet if all you're looking to do is belt out a few tunes with some friends, SingStar 90's makes an excellent selection (and is much more affordable, not to mention easy to pack away). In fact, while we've hosted parties featuring Rock Band and Guitar Hero, it's our SingStar events that seem to have both the biggest draw and also feel the most entertaining. After a few drinks everyone seems to want to join in on the fun, and you don't need to practice much to become an expert. Plus, listening to a friend attempt to sing Sir Mix a Lot's "Baby Got Back" after a beverage or two is worth the price of admission alone.
If you've picked up any of the previous SingStar games on the PS2, then you'll know exactly what to expect with this latest release. As music preference is entirely up to the listener, if you like the list of tracks and want a fantastic party game, then you'll enjoy this one. As an added bonus, the game is entirely playable on the PS3 (at least the original models), and offers hot-swapping disc support between the various SingStar games to further increase the track list. A few friends, a few drinks, and you'll be belting out those tunes alongside your buddies. And while I should note that I wrote this review almost entirely while listening to REM, the 90's edition is my personal favourite of all the PS2 SingStar games to date - here's to hoping we see a 90's Volume Two in the future.