|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Inis||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Microsoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 18, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Although SingStar has been a fixture in the karaoke game genre ever since the last generation, it was only a matter of time until a true rival appeared. Sure, titles like Karaoke Revolution and Boogie have tried to tap into the karaoke market, but SingStar, with its tried-and-true formula, has remained the dominant force in this niche music genre. Lips is the new karaoke title to challenge the throne of the current karaoke king. Plus, it does a surprisingly good job of inserting some much needed ingenuity into this genre.
One of the biggest ways that Lips differentiates itself from the crowd is with its unique microphone peripheral. While at first glance the peripheral may just look like a standard wireless mic that has glowing lights, there is a lot more to it than that. The mic also comes packing an accelerometer that can be used to pull of special bonus-triggering moves or play mic-based mini-games. The microphone works very well at a technical level, and it does a good job picking up your notes no matter which way you hold it. It is also a lot lighter than the rival SingStar mics and a lot easier to move around with. The Lips Microphone definitely outshines other mic peripherals quite a bit, and it is a pity that it is currently incompatible with other music-based titles like Guitar Hero: World Tour.
The singing in this title is fairly conventional and uses a clear note bar to indicate correct pitch. Unlike SingStar, however, the game does not show you missed notes, and instead it only displays notes that you actually sing correctly. You are able to see your current pitch by looking at a scrolling bright light that functions much like the pitch arrow in the Rock Band series. Although this format is not a huge departure from genre conventions, it works well, and the invisible missed notes actually make the Lips format feel a little bit more approachable. There is also a bonus mode that you can initiate in Lips that works similarly to the star power mode in band-based games. To initiate this mode, you will have to sing a certain amount of notes correctly to fill up a bonus gage. Once you have done this, the gage will turn yellow, and a little figure will show up showing a pose you can do with your mic. Perform the pose correctly and all the notes will turn yellow, and then you will receive extra points. This approach works very well, and being able to choose when you initiate your bonus section is certainly better than the pre-determined Star notes in SingStar.
One aspect of Lips that I enjoyed was the accelerometer-based mini-games. There are two mini-games that use the accelerometer, Kiss and Time Bomb. The Kiss mini-game is actually quite funny to watch and features two would-be lovers running towards each other at different points in the song. Once you fill up your special meter bar, you will have to gently perform that bonus-inducing move so that the two lovers will achieve a kiss of true love. If you perform the move too quickly, however, instead of kissing, the two characters will disconnect abruptly (oftentimes with a slap) and you will have to start making the love connection all over again. The other accelerometer-based mini-game is Time Bomb, which features a lit fuse that will keep burning until you sing a few bars correctly to fill up a glass of water to pour on the fuse by tilting the mic. The fuse reignites every few seconds, however, so youll have to keep both your singing and tilting on-point to make sure you can keep the bomb from exploding. The mini-games in this title make Lips feel more like a game rather than just a karaoke simulator, and it is refreshing to see this type of variety.
Another very cool aspect of the singing component is the medal system that Lips employs to judge your singing. In addition to a final score, each song will have eight different medals that you can earn for having great pitch or spot-on rhythm. These medals are a great tool to track your progress with different songs, and they identify trouble areas. This aspect of the scoring system adds a lot of replay value, as karaoke enthusiasts will no doubt strive to earn all eight medals for every song.
The song selection in Lips is actually a little bit of a disappointment. There are only forty songs, and most of these arent very fresh. Songs like Rihannas Umbrella, Makes Me Wonder by Maroon 5, and Love Song by Sara Bareillis have all been in other karaoke games in the past six months, and they really dont bring anything new or distinctive to the Lips package. But, if you dont mind the repetitive nature of most of the songs, there are a few gems here like Stand by Me by Ben E. King, and Another One Bites the Dust by Queen. Although the track listing leaves a lot to be desired in the form of original content, it is also very disappointing in terms of quantity. When most band-based music games include at least eighty songs out of the box, the fact that a singing-focused title can only match half of that seems ludicrous.