Singstar: Queen

Publisher: Sony
Systems: PS2 and PS3
PS3 MSRP: $39.99
PS2 MSRP: $29.99

Bust out your microphones and warm up your singing voice, a new version of SingStar has finally hit store shelves! Last year Sony released its first band-specific entry into the franchise with SingStar Abba. Sure Mama Mia is perplexingly the highest grossing movie ever in the UK, but over here in the colonies we require our karaoke too be a little more flamboyant.

The semi-eponymous SingStar Queen is exactly what SingStar lovers have been craving. To date only a few Queen songs have been available in musical games, namely Guitar Hero. The beauty of SingStar is that you can focus completely on your vocal performance without the hassle of playing an instrument. Your hands are free to roam, just the way Freddie Mercury would have wanted it.

Queen has a spectacular catalog of songs to draw from, and most fan favorites made it onto the disc. Unlike past SingStar releases in which you’re lucky to find more than five tracks you’d want to sing more than a few times, here even the lesser-known songs included are a blast to learn and play. First-time karaoke players will be lured in by “We Will Rock You” and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” but won’t be able to put down the mic once they try classics like “Somebody to Love” and “Under Pressure.”

If you’re new to the series, you can read more about its game mechanics here. If you’ve played SingStar before, you’ll quickly see that the Queen version, especially on PS2, doesn’t offer many changes. PS3 owners have a few enhancements like trophy support and the ability to navigate menus using only the soothing power of their voices. The latter is certainly a welcome addition since it has always been cumbersome to repeatedly switch back and forth between the controller and mic.

Both systems offer the same gameplay and music videos, though, and half the fun of playing comes from watching Queen perform. You get to experience the ever-changing looks of the band members over the passage of time, including Freddie Mercury’s continuously morphing mustache. Some songs have actual music videos like the wacky cross-dressing antics found in “I Want to Break Free,” while others contain live concert footage.

SingStar Queen has a higher difficulty level than past offerings. Because of the stunning range of Freddie’s voice, you’ll have to work hard for your points. Due to the nature of Queen’s songs, there are many more opportunities to sing the harmony than usual. This makes a few duets more enjoyable, but too often the harmony is difficult to detect and becomes frustrating to try to match.

Not surprisingly, previous flaws found in SingStar games have resurfaced. It still isn’t possible to play true instrumental karaoke versions of songs, and you can only see your pitch when the game wants you to sing. Also this is a standalone disc, so new customers must either buy microphones separately or purchase an additional SingStar game that does include them.

If you are still playing SingStar on the PS2, this is a good time to upgrade. The mics still work on the PS3, and five additional songs can be found in the next-gen version. Through the PlayStation Network you have access to the SingStore, where hundreds of songs are obtainable for individual purchase. If you have an EyeToy, you can upload clips of yourself singing to share with SingStore’s extensive online community.

The release of SingStar Queen is irrefutable proof that there is a God and that Freddie Mercury is his favorite heavenly minstrel. It is arguably the greatest band-exclusive game the musical genre has seen, and only the upcoming Beatles release will be able to top it. SingStar Queen is sure to become the prized jewel of your SingStar showcase.

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