Earplugs at the ready: this summer will see full-on karaoke wars, with both Sony and Konami releasing sing-along games for PS2.
SingStar, which was , is being developed by Sony London - the people behind the EyeToy. As you sing into the USB microphone (two of which come packaged with the game), it will evaluate your vocal skills (or lack thereof) based on pitch, tone and timing. SingStar is also EyeToy compatible, allowing players to see themselves on screen as they warble their hearts out.
Vocal analysis aside, it's the songs that really count - and SingStar boasts a fine selection of karaoke classics, with each track being the artist's original recording. (So, thankfully, no cheesy '80s synth-style cover versions.) The eclectic selection of, ahem, bangin' choons includes Just a Little (Liberty X), I Believe in a Thing Called Love (The Darkness), Ace of Spades (Motorhead), Livin' La Vida Loca (Ricky Martin) and, of course, the Village People's YMCA.
The three modes allow for between one and eight players to join in together and include party game Pass the Mic and the more story-based Star Maker, in which you must progress from singing in your bedroom to performing sell-out concerts. There's also an instant replay option which allows you to tweak your vocal performance.
The other half of this summer's PS2 sing-off consists of Karaoke Stage from Konami, who are behind the hugely-successful Dancing Stage bemani series. As per SingStar, the game makes use of a USB microphone (although Konami have yet to confirm whether the game will be packaged with one) and judges players' singing ability based on pitch and rhythm.
An alter ego created by the player appears on screen dancing and singing to a crowd, while the lyrics and the length of each note scroll along the bottom of the screen. As you're singing, the game gauges your closeness to the real song and gives instant feedback ranging from 'poor' to 'great'. As per SingStar, the selection of modes includes party game options and a single-player career-style game, called Showtime, in which you have to sing your way to virtual stardom.
The catalogue of songs will feature a total of 56 tracks, covering rock, classic ballads, pop and R'n'B, and includes tunes by Michael Jackson, Madonna, the Kinks, Avril Lavigne, REM and Barenaked Ladies. However, unlike SingStar, which features the original recordings of the songs it features, Karaoke Stage will see you being backed by "the game's in-house bands".
At this early stage, there's not a great deal to differentiate the two croon-'em-ups. SingStar benefits from EyeToy compatibility and the fact that all the songs it features are the original recordings as opposed to cover versions. Karaoke Stage, though, will feature almost double the number of tunes, which could certainly help it maintain a more long-term appeal. Either way, there's going to be an awful lot of singing going on in people's living rooms this summer. You have been warned.
Karaoke Stage will be released in May while SingStar is currently scheduled for a summer release