Home | News | Reviews | Previews | Hardware
Disney Sing It: Family Hits
Score: 75%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Disney Interactive
Developer: ZoŽ Mode
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1 - 8
Genre: Rhythm

Graphics & Sound:
Music is everything in a rhythm game, and Disney Sing It: Family Hits has the benefit of nearly 75 years of Disney classics to pull at its side. Unfortunately, it doesn't get nearly the mileage it could, putting a damper on an otherwise fun, family title.

Family Hits commits the rhythm game equivalent of fielding a football team and leaving Drew Brees, Randy Moss or Peyton Manning on the bench. The 30-song list contains a number of well-known favorites, including "You Can Fly!," "A Dream is a Wish," and "Under the Sea," as well as some more recent songs. Barring some sort of bizarre licensing issue, I suppose newer inclusions are to add balance and give boys something to sing or to include "current" movies.

This is an understandable, but flawed, choice. I was just as happy to sing "Once Upon a Dream," as I was "You've Got a Friend in Me." If the song is good, people will want to sing it. Even if you want to include more "boy songs," there are better alternatives in the Aladdin and Lion Kingsoundtracks. Heck, at least include "A Pirate's Life...".

Songs are accompanied by video packages featuring the films each song comes from. These are something you'll either love or hate. Rather than present the entire sequence from the movie, sequences include a few pieces from the original sequence spliced with other scenes from the movie. I would have liked the original sequences, but it didn't matter as much to me as it did others.

Disney Sing It: Family Hits follows the familiar design found in other music games. A song plays as you attempt to sing along and match it tune-for-tune. The same general concept carries through numerous modes, including both Duet and Competitive as well as a Solo Play.

There are actually two solo modes. The game defaults to Sing It, which is akin to a Quickplay. You choose a song and difficulty level, and start singing. Another variation, Solo, is available in the Competitive Play menu. The concept is exactly the same, only you can choose to play multiple tracks instead of one, as in Sing It. I noticed some of the rewards specify specific Solo Play modes, so there may be something going on under the hood that wasn't apparent.

Multiplayer is the real star here. Every multiplayer mode works along the same lines with players trading off lines of a song. If a song has a duet component ("A Whole New World," for example), each player takes a different role, though a few lines are shared just to make sure one person doesn't dominate the entire song. Regardless of which style you choose to play, matches are fun but, again, it all comes back to the song list. I had a fun time playing with my friends and their kids, at least for the first hour or so. We went through all the modes and unlocked nearly everything the game had to offer. After that, we lost interest. It wasn't because we burned through everything; we were just bored singing the same limited selection of songs.

We're all Disney fans - the core group Disney is targeting here - but the newer stuff just didn't interest any of us. Even the younger players were more interested in the classics. I hate to harp on the issue, but I can't see why two songs from Cars are included, but standards like "When You Wish Upon a Star" (which is practically Disney's anthem) and a majority of the Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid and Aladdin are left out. I can understand Princess and the Frog and even Toy Story. Both had great songs. But Cars, Monsters Inc. and A Bug's Life?

Every song has it's own difficulty curve. Some are easy, others are hard - it's all a matter of familiarity and how well you can match up tones. I really like the addition of a Voice Coach tutorial with Anika Noni Rose, Tiana's voice in The Princess and the Frog. The exercises feel silly at first, but I can honestly say I'm much more comfortable singing in games now than I was before playing. It didn't turn me into a great singer, but helped me get over whatever barriers were keeping me from wanting to sing in games.

It's also great for kids since we noticed the younger ones were perfectly content to hold the microphone, sing a few lines and just watch the video segments. I'll even cop to screwing up the Sleeping Beauty songs because I got caught up in watching the animation.

Players looking for more of a challenge can shoot for special Star Challenges. Every song has three special bars indicated by a bit of fairy dust sprinkled across the song section. If you can hit all of the notes in the bar, you'll earn bonus points and a few special goodies like themes and PSN Trophies.

Game Mechanics:
Disney Sing It: Family Hits finds a sweet spot; it's not super challenging, but doesn't lie down either. Success is based more on earning as many points and stars as possible. Hitting and holding notes earns points, which are tallied up at the end of the song. More points equal a better star rating. The point values are incredibly generous. Even if you miss a part, you can usually earn enough points to make up for any mistakes. This may not appeal to players desperate to prove how awesome they are, but that's not in the spirit of the game. It's karaoke, not American Idol.

There's no way to "fail" a song, which is great for younger players and older ones. One of the worst things about playing this sort of game with friends is slogging through menus after someone fails a song in the first few bars. Family Hits keeps things going, so even if you mess up, you can still have fun.

Family Hits ships with one microphone, but any USB microphone will work. The one that ships with the game is incredibly "hot" and will pick up nearly anything. I was able to match some tones in songs by tapping my fingers on the microphone's handle. Though this may be an isolated incident, I ended up using another USB microphone most of the time.

Disney Sing It: Family Hits isn't a bad title, it's just a disappointment. As a Disney fan, it's hard to look at the game and not see the potential for an amazing music game. I realize it would be hard to meet every expectation, but there's so much missing its hard to not feel a bit let down. Hopefully Disney has some reasonably priced DLC in the pipeline to help fill in the gaps (or maybe some park attraction music?).

For family fun, Disney Sing It: Family Hits should fit the bill nicely. It's nothing you'll play for more than a few songs at a time, but it provides a nice, kid-friendly alternative to other music games on the market.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Related Links:

This site best viewed in Internet Explorer 6 or higher or Firefox.