E3 Hands-On: Sing It

Every so often, gaming goes through cycles where certain genres become all the rage. First-person shooters, RPGs, and survival-horror have all had their turn in the sun (the diseased, infected sun in the case of horror), and now it seems like the tide is shifting to rhythm-based party games. Rock Band and Guitar Hero have really led the way to making this genre a mainstay in living rooms and disc trays around the world, and other franchises like Dance Dance Revolution and Sony’s Singstar series have been riding the wave as well. Even Microsoft is getting into the spirit, announcing Lips at E3 (and treating us all to an impromptu and not particularly thrilling performance by Duffy). Now, Disney is planning on getting into the act with Sing It, bringing all your favorite tween sensations out of the television and into your vocally-challenged life.

Honestly, the idea of a Disney karaoke game is such a no-brainer I’m surprised they waited this long. With international recording stars like Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana, Ally & AJ, and the phenomenon that is High School Musical, the House of Mouse is full of family-friendly talent that basically demands the game treatment. No doubt, if you have a Disney fan in your house, you know all about the acts featured in Sing It, and you could likely warble right along with the tracks featured on the soundtrack. Who knows, you may even secretly love this stuff, but can’t admit it for fear of losing your street cred. In that case, make sure you hide the case before friends come over.

The setup of Sing It should be familiar to anyone who’s played Singstar, as it’s essentially identical. The music video for whatever song you’re performing will play in the background, overlaid by pitch bars and the lyrics. Match the pitch and hit your notes and you get points, simple as that. The whole approach very clearly says, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and it’s this simplicity and familiarity that will likely allow many families to dive right into the game.

For a game aimed at kids, Sing It does pack a good variety of modes, with single-player being complemented by two-player competitive and co-operative modes. There is also a duet feature for certain songs, so if you happen upon a track that features two different parts, each player can take on a role and croon to one another in a manner befitting Disney. Not so much “come hither and take me” stares, more “come hither and let’s share our lunch” stares. A subtle difference, but still important.

For those roped into the game against their will, our time at the demo booth proved that there are still ways to have fun with this game even if you have no idea who any of these kids are. One of our colleagues from IGN launched into a side-splitting rendition of a song from High School Musical, replacing the lyrics with new words as he saw fit, with an end result of him admitting that he is Miley Cyrus, Hannah Montana, and… a lizard. The performance was so uproarious that even the developers of Postal 3, camped out at their booth nearby, came over to see what all the fuss was about and even they had a good time. If you can get the guys who put a badger chainsaw to enjoy a Disney game, then you know you’re doing something right.

Honestly though, Sing It looks to be more than a simple cash-in, and offers musically-inclined families a way to come together and perform songs which kids love and don’t bombard them suggestive lyrics. We can forsee many a happy game night with parents and kids passing the mic around and trying to perform the theme songs and musical numbers that compose their family programming. Also, Sing It is likely to sell more than a few copies to people who like to ogle Miley Cyrus but find looking up pictures of her on the Internet to just be too weird. So hey, the game’s got something for everyone, especially creeps.

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