What the hell, Sony must have thought. If people are happy to sing along to a video game at parties, they'll be happy to dance along too, right?
SingStar Dance is Sony's attempt at reinvigorating its once-flagship casual gaming series by introducing the PlayStation Move to the game, which allows up to two people to sing while up to two others can dance. Can the karaoke juggernaut find a new lease on life as a karaoke and dancing game?
The SingStar fanatic who has every game in the series and simply must have them all, no matter how trivial or pointless the update.
Long before the Wii or even DS came along, SingStar was the franchise taking console gaming into uncharted waters, selling millions of PlayStation 2 consoles to demographics like mothers and young girls who would otherwise have never bothered. SingStar Dance, with its inclusion of PlayStation Move motion-controller support, for the first time lets players do more than just sing.
You don't make me feel like dancing.. The entire point of this game is to get people dancing. That's what differentiates it from the other 1000 SingStar games out there that only feature singing. Yet only a few seconds into your first "dance" and you'll be bitterly disappointed, because it quickly becomes apparent that the game suffers from "Wii Sports Syndrome". You're supposed to be performing spins, twists, pumps and thrusts, but due to the nature of the PlayStation Move all you need to do is flick your arm a little and the game won't know the difference.
But what if I forget that and actually try? The moves you have to copy bear little-to-no relation to those being performed in the video clip by the artist on-screen at the time, which is a constant distraction. This has the knock-on effect that copying dance moves requires you to memorise them to be successful, which goes against the series' traditional accessibility of letting anyone grab a microphone and instantly be able to sing along to the words on-screen.
Your dancing will never look like this.
Stupid man, I play SingStar drunk at parties, not for a high score. Ah, then here's the game's saving grace. Because it's almost impossible to do the dance moves properly on your first or second playthrough, social attempts (or at least those performed for the purposes of this review) quickly degenerate into freestyle dance routines. That can be funny enough, but the PlayStation Eye camera is able to record your entire performance. Seeing footage of me failing miserably to match the moves of either Salt or Pepa has been the highlight of my wife's week thus far, and at a party (or the day after) this feature would be even more important.
Will my old SingStar tracks work with Dance? Nope! The songs included on this disc have the dance moves coded into them, but not a single one of my existing library tracks was compatible with the Move. Understandable, sure, but Sony is going to have to swiftly add dance moves to the game's vast back catalogue of tracks if it wants SingStar: Dance to remain relevant.
With a familiar track list that won't be anything new to long-time fans, SingStar Dance is a poor SingStar game. It's also a poor, limited application of the PlayStation Move, harking back to the darkest days of the Wii rather than the PS3's promise of a glorious motion-controlled future. And yet for all its shortcomings, SingStar: Dance does - provided you have the necessary hardware and accomplices - still have a time and a place for those whose social lives are enhanced by booze, pop music and the recording of people shaking their asses.
SingStar: Dance was developed by London Studio and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation 3, released on November 1. Retails for $39.99. A copy of the game was given to us by the publisher for reviewing purposes. Played most of the songs included on the disc, taking turns at either singing or dancing. Attempts at doing both were met with equal parts failure and embarrassment.