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SingStar: ABBA
Score: 87%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Developer: London Studio
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1 - 8
Genre: Rhythm/ Party/ Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:
SingStar: ABBA is the latest in the series of SingStar games for the PS3. The interface graphics are the same as the previous games in the series - a slick interface with selectable beautiful backgrounds (some of which are animated), which have accompanying ambient music that matches the theme. That having been said, the only addition that SingStar: ABBA brings to the game in the way of the User Interface (UI) is one wallpaper that bears the ABBA logo in gold over a glittery gold background. This is not unusual; SingStar: Vol. 2 also had a single wallpaper that was specific to the game along with several backgrounds that are shared by all of the SingStar games for the PS3.

All of the music in SingStar: ABBA is - you guessed it - ABBA songs. Specifically, they are ABBA songs, performed by ABBA, complete with ABBA videos. If you are an ABBA fan, your karaoke game has arrived, with twenty five ABBA songs, in all. Specifically, you get: Chiquitita, Dancing Queen, Does Your Mother Know, Fernando, Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!, Happy New Year, Head Over Heels, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, Knowing Me, Knowing You, Mamma Mia, Money, Money, Money, One of Us, Ring Ring, SOS, Summer Night City, Super Trouper, Take A Chance On Me, Thank You for the Music, The Day Before You Came, The Name of the Game, The Winner Takes It All, Under Attack, Voulez-Vous, Waterloo and When All Is Said and Done. I will be the first to admit that I am not an ABBA fan, but that's probably true of the majority of Americans, since ABBA's popularity was much greater overseas than in the United States. Additionally, ABBA is from some time ago and, as such, most of the songs don't really stand the test of time. Most of the songs in SingStar: ABBA are firmly planted in the Disco era, and don't seem relevant to today's music. A few songs, however, have lasting qualities that do stand the test of time, such as Fernando, SOS and Take A Chance on Me. Those who are ABBA fans or simply like disco more than I do are likely to like Dancing Queen, which is an iconic disco song.


Gameplay:
There are a few different modes to play in SingStar: ABBA. If you are familiar with earlier SingStar games for the PS3, there's nothing new in the way of game modes; only the musical selection is different here.

For those of you who are not already familiar with SingStar, please note that SingStar Microphones are required to play the game, but are sold separately. SingStar is not compatible with the normal USB microphones that are compatible with other games, such as Karaoke Revolution, Guitar Hero: World Tour and Rock Band. The SingStar microphones are unique in that they both share a single USB port on your system, with one marked as being the "Red" microphone and the other being marked as the "Blue" one.

The simplest game modes to explain are Sing Solo and Duet. In both of these modes, the music plays and the music plays, and you sing when the colored line crosses across the ABBA lyrics that are to be sung. Pitch indicators in the form of bars on the screen indicate the relative differences between pitches to be sung in the music. Regardless of whether you're singing alone or with a friend, the lyrics and pitch indicators that you need to pay attention to are color-coded (either red or blue) to match the microphone you're using. Your goal is to give your best performance, getting the notes right as often as possible, to build up as high a score as possible. Bear in mind that the game doesn't actually detect what lyrics you are singing, so it is best to get the pitch and timing right and mess up the lyrics, if need be.

Battle is another two player mode, but instead of singing with another person as a team, you're competing against the other singer, each singer getting their own score.

Pass the Mic is another multi-player mode, but this one can be played by two to eight players, with several rounds of specific singing challenges.


Difficulty:
If you find that you need to work on one ABBA song or another, you can take advantage of the Practice mode. This mode lets you work on your performance on a given song without the pressure of being scored. However, one of the interesting aspects of SingStar games is that you can't "fail" out of the game. In other words, no matter how bad a score your performance gets, you will be allowed to perform the whole song. For this reason, the Practice mode is not that big of a deal, unless you're really frazzled at the concept of having your performance graded. Also, for those who just want to have fun and don't care to strive for perfection - or those who simply aren't very good at singing - the fact that the game won't drop you due to a flagging performance makes SingStar games more forgiving and, likely, more fun than other games that have a vocal component.

Personally, I found singing the selection of ABBA songs to be difficult, mainly due to my unfamiliarity with these songs. I will warn you that ABBA songs are not as formulaic as a lot of other bands' songs are; some of the transitions may be unexpected if you're not familiar with the songs. With other bands, I can usually attempt a song I'm not familiar with and score pretty well, by picking up on the general patterns of the music and using that to help me better predict what is coming up, despite being unfamiliar with the music. The ABBA songs, on the other hand, had me so far off in some points that I found it rather amusing and ended up laughing and scoring very low. (It's rather hard to try to laugh on pitch).

If you're a die-hard ABBA fan familiar with the above mentioned songs, you'll probably find SingStar: ABBA easy and fun. If you're not, this might not be the best version of SingStar for you.


Game Mechanics:
The "engine" behind SingStar: ABBA is pretty much proven at this point and is, at any rate, a known factor. Additional information about this engine can be read in previous SingStar game reviews, as this game doesn't appear to tweak this engine in the least. As a brief summary of previously noted aspects of SingStar games versus the competition, however, it should be noted that the static UI for displaying the lyrics and pitch is, in my opinion, not as intuitive (or informative) as the scrolling lyrics and pitch bars used in some other games, such as Karaoke Revolution. It is more difficult to determine the appropriate timing, and the pitch bars show pitches relative to pitches, but only within the same phrase. In other words, each time the page updates with a new set of pitches to sing to, their positions are only based on their relative pitch. A pitch bar at a certain height on the screen can be different pitches in different phrases, making the first note something you have to guess at (if you're not familiar with the song).

To date, songs that are on a particular SingStar release can sometimes also be found in the SingStore online downloadable content library. You must be careful not to purchase songs that you already have if you own multiple volumes of SingStar. However, as of this writing, there are no ABBA songs in the online library, so it you want to rock out to ABBA on SingStar, you're going to want to pick up a copy of SingStar ABBA. If you're not a fan of ABBA, you're better off with one of the previous version of SingStar.


-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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