What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this game is a sing-along party game featuring 40 well-known songs from popular artists. It isn't meant for kids; the packaging, music, and design make it clear the game was intended for an audience of teens or older players. Original and custom music videos -- some of which feature smoking and scantily clad women -- are shown during the game. Included songs are pretty clean, but users can also import their own music.
What's it about?
LIPS, a new karaoke game from Microsoft, is meant to be pulled out when friends come over. Consequently, it doesn't really have any sort of story or campaign mode. Players simply pick individual songs or create a set list and start singing. They can also set up a jukebox mode in which the game plays a selection of tracks and allows players to jump into a song by picking up one of the two included wireless mics.
That said, there are a few video game-y elements. Performances are scored, which adds an element of competition if two players are singing at the same time. Plus, there is a variety of game modes, including one in which players have to sing well together to make an on-screen couple kiss, and another that sees players taking turns in a crooning duel.
Is it any good?
As singing games go, Lips is average. Most of the tracks that come with the game are well known, but there are just 40 of them, which seems a paltry number relative to other music games that offer more than twice as many. You can access 250 more tracks through Marketplace, the online store associated with Microsoft's Zune media player, but it requires several steps and seems like a lame marketing gimmick meant to get players to sign up for a new music service. The much-hyped ability to use most of your own digital music files is a letdown, too; unlike official Lips tracks, lyrics aren't displayed, they lack original band videos, and scoring seems random.
The biggest problem, though, is the price. Its $70 tag makes Lips more expensive than many of this holiday's most popular games, which will be a turn off for the casual gamers which Microsoft is hoping to attract. A pair of quality wireless mics decorated with lights and equipped with motion sensors help sweeten the deal, but, unfortunately, they don't work with other music games like Rock Band, which means they're just two more mics to sit along side all the others in your game closet.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about profanity in modern music. It wasn't until the last couple of decades that many mainstream musicians began including excessive swearing in their songs. Do you think profanity can enhance the music? Does it have poetic purpose? Can it be taken too far? If you sing along with songs that feature dirty language in public, are you mindful of who may be listening and could be offended by the lyrics?