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22 April 2024

The new year brings in musical games galore

Ultimate Band is a poor rip-off of Guitar Hero. (SUPPLIED)

By Lou Kesten

Thanks to the current wave of musical games in stores, boring nights in with friends are now a thing of the past.

For American Idol wannabes, there are karaoke games like Sony's SingStar. And for those of us who can't carry a tune, there are instrumental games like Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero World Tour.

These familiar titles remain your best bets for a lively party, but there are also some new contenders.

Lips (Xbox 360): SingStar has found a niche of karaoke-loving PlayStation owners, with hundreds of songs available for downloading, so Lips has a long way to go to catch up, but it's a worthy alternative for Xbox owners.

It's easy to play: Just pick up a mic, pick a song and start warbling. You're judged on timing and pitch, and you aren't penalised much if you miss a note.

Hardcore gamers may object to the complete lack of challenge, but karaoke's more about having fun than trying to rack up high scores.

Ultimate Band (Wii): Less successful are two latecomers to the guitar game craze that began in 2005 with Guitar Hero.

Both try to eliminate the need to buy fake plastic instruments; instead, you use the Wii controller to simulate holding a guitar or beating on drums. In Ultimate Band, you choose notes with the Nunchuk controller and strum with the Wiimote. It never feels close to playing in a band though.

PopStar Guitar (Wii): This game comes with a device that connects to the Wiimote, giving it four large, coloured buttons (like the five on a Guitar Hero guitar).

You choose notes by pressing the buttons and strum by flicking the Nunchuk controller. It works fairly well.

Unfortunately, the notes you're asked to play often don't match the notes you hear; the timing is all off. That's a killer deficiency in a rhythm game.