Reviewed: November 8, 2008
Released: October 21, 2008
Developed by the makers of the SingStar series, Disney Sing It is a karaoke game featuring 35 songs from Aly & AJ, Camp Rock, Disney High School Musical, Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus, The Cheetah Girls, and other more recent Disney-affiliated performers. This title follows up on last yearís karaoke game from Disney titled High School Musical: Sing It!, released on the Wii, PlayStation 2, and DS. Disney Sing It, however, replaces its predecessorís gawky 3D graphics with authentic music videos of the artists and provides a larger variety of Disney-branded pop.
Admittedly, I donít quite fit into Disney Sing Itís target demographic, and I knew none of the songs coming into this review, but such trivial details have never stopped me from enjoying a good game. Iíll be specifically focusing on my impressions of Disney Sing It as a game, rather than a karaoke DVD or other musical offering, so please keep this in mind, as your mileage may vary.
With a concept very similar to Harmonixís Karaoke Revolution, Disney Sing It is a karaoke game that provides both single-player and multiplayer modes for singing along to a selection of 35 upbeat songs from various newer Disney shows and films. If youíre looking for classic tracks from older Disney films like Beauty and the Beast or Mary Poppins, youíre out of luck; this title targets the younger Miley Cyrus tween and teen crowd. If you love Hannah Montana and High School Musical, though, chances are that youíll really enjoy this game, regardless of the game mechanics Iím about to discuss.
The game engine is based on that used in the SingStar games, so if youíve played any of those, the feel of the game should be familiaróand if you enjoy the SingStar games, the game mechanics are unlikely to faze you, so youíre welcome to disregard my next few comments. For gamers that havenít tried SingStar but are familiar with the likes of Karaoke Revolution and Rockband, however, I have to be blunt and direct with you: unfortunately, Disney Sing Itís gameplay just doesnít hold up when viewed side to side with other music games on the market.
At first glance, Disney Sing Itís approach is a straightforward system that doesnít seem too different from the previously mentioned karaoke titles: a number of bars representing notes to be sung are displayed on a screen, and, using a microphone, the player fills the bars by singing the correct note for the duration of the bar. The player only has to match the pitch and duration of the noteóthe words donít matter as far as scoring goesóand a marker on the screen shows the singerís current pitch. Thatís, however, about where the similarity ends.
The most egregious problem is that the notes and lyrics are displayed in such an awkward and unhelpful way that unless you know the songs really well already, just jumping in and learning how to sing them in Disney Sing It is more frustrating than fun. The notes and lyrics donít scroll continuously with the music as would be natural and easier to follow; instead, notes and lyrics are displayed in abruptly appearing and disappearing phrases that provide no warning for what notes the player has to sing next. To add insult to injury, not every displayed phrase is the same length, and, frequently, a chunk of three or four notes and words will flash on the screen so briefly that itís gone before you have a chance to read it. Thatís not to mention that the display doesnít line up the lyrics to the notes, and the game provides very weak cues signaling the start of vocal sections, so unless you already know the song well, you wonít know which word goes where or when to start.
There are also some other issues with this game that bear mentioning. The note tracking feature, for instance, seems to be a little too sensitive and often breaks up bars for singers with more textured voices, making it more difficult for players with huskier voices to achieve singing streak score multipliers. The pitch recognition is also a bit too forgiving, even for beginners, creating unnecessary challenges in fine-tuning pitch accuracy during gameplay. By this, I mean that I found that it was at times entirely possible to sing a whole step below or above the correct note and still fill the barsóand once the bar is filling, the marker doesnít change color or otherwise provide feedback as to how close the singer is to the spot-on pitch.
Furthermore, all spoken syllables (including rap segments) are assigned a pitch, requiring the player to sing (not speak) the words at a specific tone. While this method works, it didnít appeal to me to have to imitate spoken words in a singsong voice instead of being able to just speak them naturally.
All of that being said, Disney Sing It isnít without its good points, and as I mentioned, fans of the featured performers probably know all the songs already and therefore wonít be overly distracted by the many problems plaguing the game mechanics. To its credit, besides its solid Disney pop song list, the game includes a variety of karaoke modes in both single player and multiplayer play styles, as well as a ďSing It ProĒ mode that introduces some basic vocal techniques and encourages budding singers to practice.
The regular single player mode allows the singer to choose between the full song or one of the duet parts, and the multiplayer duet mode splits songs fairly evenly so that both singers get a chance to show their stuffóthough it alternates players across parts so that, for instance, in a song originally sung as a duet by a male and a female, both players will often have to sing a bit of the male part and a bit of the female part. There unfortunately doesnít seem to be an option to split songs into true duet parts (e.g. one singer takes the male part and the other takes the female part), but for players concerned more with equal singing time, it works out well.
Each track in Disney Sing It is accompanied by a crisp, high-quality official music video. The interface visuals, too, are designed with that Web 2.0 kind of plastic shininess, and except for the issues that I noted earlier about the design of the game display, itís clean and easy enough on the eyes. You can even customize the look of the game with one of many selectable themes included with the game, many of which feature the Disney artists included in the game.
The sound in Disney Sing It is typically clear and of high quality, except that I noticed occasional audio saturation problems regardless of my sound systemís volume and microphone settings. Microphone volume can be adjusted individually, but otherwise, there arenít a lot of options to tweak the sound.
Disney Sing It offers a list of 25 Achievements for a total of 1000 Gamer Points on Xbox Live, including awards for completing a certain number of songs, getting a top score, or for completing the entire set of songs by a certain artist or cast. Besides the Achievements, thereís absolutely nothing to unlock in this game, as all the songs are available straight from the start.
The song selection in the game does include an array of catchy pop tunes and matching videos that are sure to attract and entertain the young Disney crowd, and despite the problems with the game aspects of this title, it still has all the appeal of a karaoke disc. Sold in a $59.99 bundle with a Logitech microphone (valued at $29.99), the game itself ends up coming out to be around $30. At that price, itís a bit more expensive than your typical $10-20 karaoke disc, though the genuine music videos and vocal tracks could maybe account for the extra premium.
If youíre considering buying this title, you might also like to know that other Logitech USB microphonesó like the one that comes bundled with Rockband Special Edition or other vocal music games, and including the Logitech USB microphones that work with my PlayStation 2óare also compatible with Disney Sing It on the Xbox360, so you wonít have to buy new ones if youíve already got a few lying around. Itís just too bad that the game disc apparently isnít sold for less without the microphone at this time.
Disney Sing It unfortunately doesnít make a very good karaoke game because of various mechanical and design issues, but with its sound list of popular Disney pop tunes appealing to the Hannah Montana and High School Musical crowd, it certainly does fine as a karaoke disc. Fans of the featured artists will have a blast regardless of any gameplay issues. In the end, I canít say that Disney Sing It is really all that terrible, but it would have definitely been better as a karaoke DVD than as a game.