Remember back when mixing karaoke and videogames together was enough to rank as truly revolutionary all by itself? It may seem hard to believe now, but it was just five years ago that Konami’s Karaoke Revolution proved that a game could be successful just by scrolling some song lyrics and measuring how well the players were singing the notes behind them. Sony’s SingStar series reinforced this proof, gussying up the basic concept of Karaoke Revolution with music videos and a wide mix of songs spread out over a dozen European expansion discs since its initial 2004 release.

Of course, the rhythm game genre hasn’t remained static since then. Games like Rock Band and the upcoming Guitar Hero 4 have enhanced that basic, karaoke-based gameplay with drumming and guitar playing, providing a relatively varied four-player party experience in the process. Suddenly, a game that merely lets one or two players sing along with their favorite songs seems more tired than inspired. Suddenly, the SingStar series and its karaoke game ilk are on the brink of obsolescence.

Thus the scene is set for the PlayStation 3 version of SingStar, Sony’s last-ditch effort to save the series, and indeed the entire genre, from becoming a minor footnote in the history of the rhythm game. The game largely succeeds in this mission, not by revolutionizing the karaoke gameplay itself, but by expanding it into a new frontier of online features that will hopefully give some legs to the ailing concept.

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