IGN Review of High School Musical: Sing It
If you're over the age of 14 and don't have kids, the High School Musical phenomenon probably passed you by
at least until some scandalous photos showed up, you Googled them and took a gander, sicko.
Anyway, the gist of this the super-successful Disney franchise is a group of teens -- who are remarkable dancers and vocalists -- deal with the trials and tribulations of high school in a made-for-TV dose of musical theater. When science class gets them down or the big ballgame is coming up, the kids of High School Musical and High School Musical 2 burst into peppy pop numbers that drive the little ones wild.
Now, that bottled energy -- and a bundled microphone -- can be yours for $60.
That's right, High School Musical: Sing It! brings the squeaky-clean kids from the movies -- Troy, Gabriella, Sharpay, Ryan, Chad and Taylor -- into the videogame realm and charges you and your friends to sing along with the hits from the first two films -- songs such as "Bop to the Top," "Breaking Free" and "What I've Been Looking For."
Basically you select the character, song and singing location -- there's an auditorium, classroom, gym and more to fill with your positive beats -- and get to crooning the lyrics on the screen while your cel-shaded character dances on stage. Your task is to repeat the words that are lighting up in a vocal fashion that matches the pitch and timing bars on the screen. See, these bars are the length of the syllable you should be saying and as high or low as the pitch they should be in. Nail one of these portions and the bar fills in light blue. Botch it and the bar becomes a darker shade. When you get to the end of a section, the game drops a graded piece of notebook paper in the corner to let you know how you did while adding points to your ever-growing total. In the end, the winner is the performer with the higher score and -- if it's good enough -- the total gets logged on the scoreboard.
You'll repeat the process across three gameplay modes. Quick Play is where you just grab a song -- maybe a partner, too -- and have at it; Party Mode pits you against up-to-seven opponents in a battle for the high score; and Story Mode walks you through a handful of summaries that depict High School Musical events and then have you sing a song that sums each up.
Key to your enjoyment of this title is -- surprise -- how much you like High School Musical. IGN isn't filled with fans of the flick so when folks stepped up to rock songs such as "Get'cha Head in the Game," crashing and burning was pretty much par for the course. However, if you already know every word to "Push It to the Limit" and "Work This Out," you'll find a solid singing experience in High School Musical: Sing It! -- although I'm not sure if you need to purchase it.
See, the actual gameplay works fine. A small basketball lets you know where your singing pitch is, and dropping or raising your voice to match the onscreen indicator is simple enough. Still, I would've liked to have seen a bar crawl across the lyrics that would start before I was to sing -- right now, the words just start lighting up and leave you in the dust if you're not sure of the timing -- but if you're a High School Musical devotee, you shouldn't have the same complaint.
However, even if you loooooove Zac Efron or this is your little one's first videogame, the graphics on this title will leave something to be desired. High School Musical: Sing It! chose to go the cel-shaded route with its models and environments, and the result is a bland but bright mix-up. Granted, the Wii version of this title looks a bit sharper than the PlayStation 2's, but the kids still look too generic, the models are flat and stiff, and the crowd is a sparse set of faceless, flat people. It doesn't really capture the essence of a bustling high school.
But the bigger problem is that even for the hardcore fans -- yes, those of you who have already booked your tickets for High School Musical: The Ice Tour -- the replay value of this game is going to be a bit disappointing.
Don't get me wrong -- there's a lot to grab on this disc. You can unlock eight additional characters, seven new areas, 21 songs, 21 outfits and 42 styles. The only problem is you'll unlock all of this just by playing the same things over and over. Story Mode is super-short -- if you're taking breaks and having conversations between songs, we're talking an hour -- and that leaves you going through Quick Play while trying to break the point barriers and other conditions laid out for each unlockable in Extras. Even if you're buying this for your son or daughter, they're going to have to be self-motivated to go through and find every goodie because the game doesn't provide a mode to lead them.
Still, there are videos of cast interviews, dance-alongs and dance rehearsals to keep the young ones entertained as they venture out into the land of gumdrops, sunshine and Disney teen drama. Oh, and if you have a friend who doesn't want to sing, he or she can use the d-pad to rotate between percussion instruments -- cowbell, drum, etc. -- and then shake the Wiimote to use the instrument as you sing. They don't sound good.
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