The SingStar karaoke series is to European PS2 owners what games like Madden might be in North America, but on a slight smaller scale. The franchise has done very well in Europe, with seven different versions already out across the continent and localized versions available in countries like Sweden. However, the real question is: can it catch fire on this side of the Atlantic Ocean as well?
Developed by Sony London and published by Sony’s European branch, SingStar Pop is the latest addition to the franchise and the last SingStar coming out for the PS2. Combining two European releases - 2005’s SingStar Popworld with some of the songs from the upcoming SingStar Pop Hits - SingStar Pop aims to deliver a top-notch karaoke experience, but falls just a bit short.
SingStar Pop contains 30 different songs to sing from, each with one of three difficulty levels. The songs range from the amazingly awesome (including a-ha's "Take On Me" and the Gorillaz's "Feel Good, Inc."), to the middle of the road songs (including songs from My Chemical Romance, Daniel Powter and U2), to the disgustingly bad (the Unholy Trinity of Britney Spears, Avril Lavigne and Ashlee Simpson). The 30 songs on SingStar Pop cover just about every corner of the pop universe, which gives it wide appeal, but makes it a slightly weaker line-up than what we got with SingStar Rocks.
At least SingStar Pop includes all of the proper music videos for the songs, which SingStar Rocks did not. The videos are all clear and look broadcast-quality, though you probably won’t be paying much attention to them. Each song and video also has a short and full version, but the short version cuts out at inconvenient points sometimes.
While the songs sound great, you can’t just hear your voice over the music. While you can use the controller’s buttons to adjust the microphone volume, the original track remains in the background as back-up vocals. This takes a bit away from the true karaoke experience, but it’s nothing big enough to kill the experience.