Singstar was one of the original party games. The first version, released in 2004, achieved mainstream success worldwide and was played at parties everywhere.
Since then, it has changed very little. A game released with 30 licensed tracks of varying familiarity and popularity, which you sing along to, karaoke-style. You don't necessarily have to be a great singer as long as you can keep within the lines on-screen.
With this release, SingStar developer London Studios has added one significant feature: if you have a relatively new smartphone, you no longer need to purchase additional microphones to play the game. Instead, you can download the SingStar Mic app and connect it to your PlayStation 4 over your home wireless network.
At first I thought that was a great idea - and then I tried it out. Smartphones aren't directional like a proper handheld microphone is, so if your buddy's not singing but you are, their microphone is likely to be picking up your voice. You can adjust some settings to try and improve it, but it's still a problem. The app also frequently had issues staying connected to my PS4, and would even stop working mid-song. If I paused the song and started again it would miraculously work.
Needless to say my experience would have been much improved had I been using a traditional SingStar microphone.
On the plus side, the music selection is good, and the selection in the SingStar store is even better, so you can get nostalgic with some Britney or Spice Girls.
Although I was disappointed with SingStar Ultimate Party, I was absolutely thrilled by Just Dance 2015. I haven't played any Just Dance games before - I was previously put off by the need to use PlayStation Move wands or Wiimotes - but have played a significant amount of Dance Central. And I love the Dance Central series, but I likely won't bother to play it again now.
In Just Dance, up to four players can play at once and each of them has their own set of moves. It's both competitive and co-operative - while the game tallies up your points, you and your dance partner(s) frequently have to work together. You may have to spin around each other, or lift one another up, or clap your hands together.
You can also pit yourselves against online opponents - don't worry, you can't see each other dance - if you're extra competitive. I was dubious about it at first, but found that it fostered extra co-operation between myself and my dance partners.
The song selection is pretty good, and you unlock extra tracks and remixes as you play through the game. The selection of downloadable dances is not that great, however. Each one is also pretty expensive at around $4.50, so you're going to be paying a lot extra on top of the base game if you want to buy all the extra tracks. It shouldn't be a problem for most people, as there's plenty of content in the base game.
Both SingStar and Just Dance are about nothing but pure fun, and Just Dance certainly brought that to the party. If you like dance games, it's the best one I've played. SingStar, on the other hand, brought just a little bit of fun but a lot of frustration.
SINGSTAR ULTIMATE PARTY
Platforms: PS3, PS4
JUST DANCE 2015
Platforms: PS3, PS4, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One