Singstar ABBA
Reviewed by Brandy Shaul
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2008-12-04 PS2 Music/Rhythm T (Teen) SCEE / SCEA

If there is ever to be a band that perfectly fits the get-together-and-have-fun feeling behind the SingStar franchise, it's ABBA. Even if you're not a fan of the group, it's hard to argue with their disco-era success, and with the fact that as one of the most successful musical groups of all time (that even had another band, the A-Teens, created as a tribute to their success), they definitely deserve their own place in the SingStar universe.

As the group has sold hundreds of millions of albums worldwide, one can only imagine how hard it was to narrow the song list down to game length, but Sony managed to do so and has presented fans with 20 hit songs spanning the groups lengthy recording history. Obvious choices like "Dancing Queen" and "Mamma Mia" are obviously included, along with my personal favorite, "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)", and others such as "Fernando", "SOS", and "The Winner Takes it All", among others.

As is the norm in all SingStar titles, the game is comprised of streamlined menus that offer little in the way of extras, and instead allow for players to get straight to the singing. Most of the 20 songs within the game come with both full and short versions, except ones like "Waterloo", which is so fast paced that there would be no logical point to end it mid-song. Where the short option is available however, the song normally ends after the first verse and chorus are complete.

No matter which version you choose, the gameplay is the same, and requires you to sing your heart out in tune with the rhythm and pitch of the original music video that plays throughout. Your progress is tracked via the implementation of a pale staff on top of the music video that shows empty note bubbles that fill in as you hit the correct note. The more notes you hit correctly, the higher your score, and the more the performance bar fills, with the opposite being true. That is, as you sing off key or miss words entirely, your performance bar empties.

One major difference from other SingStar games is the fact that the actual gameplay screen has received a couple of tweaks, most notably of which is the fact that now the score box and performance bar are located on top of the music video at the far right side, about halfway down the screen. Likewise, the clock that tells you how far along you are in the song is now located in the top right corner of the screen, making it a bit harder to keep track of both your score and the time remaining at once. In fact, why these items were moved from the top left corner in the first place is a bit of a mystery, as the performance bar now blocks a portion of the screen, whereas before it was always out of the way.

Other than that, the rest of the game is identical to previous SingStar games, with videos being presented in a widescreen format, with the words lighting up in blue along the bottom of the screen as they are played in the song. Speaking of the music videos, since ABBA was actively recording predominantly in the 1970's, the videos reflect such and are the original versions, in all of their grainy, bell-bottom, and shiny fabric filled glory.

Being that ABBA is a group, of course the multiplayer modes within the game are incredibly appropriate here, and allow for anywhere from 2 to 8 players to sing at once in modes such as a two-player battle mode, where both players sing simultaneously but are judged separately, with the highest scoring player at the end of the song being declared the winner. Another option is the Keep it Up mode that tasks you with keeping the performance bar filled to a certain level for the entirety of your performance. If your performance bar drops below a certain point, your performance is over and the other player wins.

Even more options come in the form of various "Pass the Mic" modes that increase the speed and difficulty of each performance as you have to quickly pass the microphone between players before the performance continues without you, and a Medley mode that has you singing a random medley of songs, with your final score for the entire medley being what really counts.

As usual, the final mode comes in the form of freestyle singing that allows you to sing along with each song without the fear of missing notes, as you aren't judged at all, and in fact, can simply use this mode as a music player if you so choose.

Unlike other SingStar games that incorporate all of a particular genre, such as rock or pop, SingStar ABBA of course targets a very particular audience, that being either previous fans of the super-group or fans of upbeat disco music in general. So while the game may not be for everyone, for those who do decide to pick it up, ther's enough fan service here to give anyone disco fever.

Special thanks to Tania Kingsrud and SCEA for providing a copy of this title.