The world of gaming has changed a lot since 2010, but let’s face it, the art of throwing a soiree and entertaining a few friends hasn’t altered much. Everyone loves a good sing-a-long at the end of the night when the red, red wine has been flowing and spirits are high. For those without a karaoke machine at hand for such an occasion though, PlayStation’s immensely popular SingStar series had you covered. Not one to miss out, Microsoft Game Studios got in on the act and published their very own singing game, Lips. And whilst that in itself is a cracking game, it spawned a follow-up which almost always guaranteed a good night was to be had. Yes, I’m here to wax lyrical about the party-starter that is Lips: Party Classics.
Developed by iNiS and released in 2008 for Xbox 360, the Lips franchise turned up on the scene with a banging selection of licensed tracks and most of the accompanying music videos; featuring big hitters such as Beyoncé, Coldplay and Rihanna. It also came with a set of wireless microphones that lit up the room and could sense motion during performances. A year later a sequel arrived, Lips: Number One Hits, which is essentially an expansion full of chart hits. Skip ahead to 2010 though, and the brilliant Lips: Party Classics released on 26th February in Europe (2nd March in North America). But what made it stand out from the previous offerings?
Without a doubt, the tracklist of Lips: Party Classics is its greatest asset, mainly due to the number of instantly recognisable songs suitable for a wide audience. Having a setlist spanning from the ’60s till the ’00s means there’s scope here to play with a few friends and belt out the recent stuff, or even get your gran involved for the classics after a glass of sherry. When you’ve got “Unchained Melody” – The Righteous Brothers, “Rock and Roll All Nite” – KISS, and “Let’s Get It Started” – The Black Eyed Peas, it enables the experience to be shared with almost anyone. And to cap it off, it’s always good to have some options that are so bad that they’re actually fun to sing like “I’m Too Sexy” – Right Said Fred and “Doctor Jones” – Aqua. There’s definitely a load of embarrassing videos recorded on mobile phones that I hope never see the light of day.
As for the gameplay, and well, Lips: Party Classics isn’t a difficult game to get involved in or to do well at, which makes it ideal for the casual players to just jump in now and again. No matter whether you’re heading in solo, competing against each other, or co-operating, all you have to do is follow the words on-screen, attempt to be in tune and keep the vocals in time with the music to rack up high scores. It’s very forgiving and so even the tone deaf can feel a sense of achievement – there’s no failing as such to worry about, but your fellow partygoers might cover their ears for the duration.
Performing well and chaining accurate-ish vocals together will help build up a special meter to activate, which then lets you earn stars for a short period. That’s not the only cool feature though. Lips also rewards medals for various aspects of your performance, with the best of the best garnering the full contingent of six. These are given for pitch, holding notes, expressing technique through the sounds you’re exerting, keeping in rhythm, tapping the mic for extra effects, and pulling off gestures with the microphone.
Factoring the ease of use, the brilliant tunes and the addictive high score setting, it’s the kind of party game that’s truly fun-for-all to delve into time and time again. In the aftermath of this successful expansion, iNiS didn’t rest on their laurels and instead added yet another instalment to the franchise in the form of Lips: I Love the 80’s only a month later. Even those who love the ’80s might have found it a bit hit and miss though. Don’t Get Me Wrong, it was clearly curated with A Good Heart, but it’s nothing to Shout about and left me with Tainted Love for Lips.
Unsurprisingly that marked the end for Lips, but iNiS did try their hand at other projects in an attempt to recapture the glory days – The Black Eyed Peas Experience and The Hip Hop Dance Experience. The recent Just Sing game on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 from Ubisoft is another one of them, however the fact that they pulled the plug on its servers in less than two years tells you all you need to know.
With 40 varied songs to choose from for use across the usual offerings, which includes a handful of novelty modes involving the likes of a bomb and a kissing gimmick, and an extra 250 Gamerscore to earn, Lips: Party Classics was arguably the best in the series. To this day, it’s still a viable option for my own gatherings, regularly thrown into the mix with Rock Band and Guitar Hero. A decade after its release, I’m going to have to face it I’m addicted to Lips…
Did you love the Lips series and, more specifically, the Party Classics sequel? Have you gone back to it over the years? What’s your go-to track for a karaoke session? Get in touch and let us know via the comments section below.