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Lips: I Love The 80s

18:5831/03/2010Posted by Zoheir BeigNo Comments

D+PAD Magazine last reviewed a Lips game, Number One Hits, back in November 2009. It’ll be of little surprise that our comments at the time, those both positive (the slick interface, the useful visual feedback) and negative (the necessity of disc-swapping), would also comfortably apply to I Love The 80s. The latest expansion to Microsoft’s karaoke party is unique for being the first title to support microphones from both Rock Band and Guitar Hero, but is otherwise about as revolutionary as someone wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt.

In all fairness I Love The 80s does differ from its predecessor in one crucial respect. Whereas Number One Hits had a tracklisting that was ultimately too schizophrenic to be satisfying (and in some cases, as with the presence of the likes of Tokio Hotel and Black Eyed Peas, too awful to be enjoyable), I Love The 80s features probably the single best collection of tracks in recent music game history, so since SingStar ‘80s. If I was feeling lazier I would just list each of the 40 songs before making some hilarious and not-at-all obvious joke about 80s fashion, but I’ll resist. Here, though, is a taster: New Order’s Blue Monday ‘88, Human League’s Don’t You Want Me, Ultravox’s Vienna and – best of all – Whip It, from Devo.

Each follows the standard Lips formula in featuring the original music video and a little history lesson, working up to a neat summation of 80s mainstream pop. The decade may be perhaps unfairly derided as one in which style and artifice overtook any work of substance, but some of the tracks here still sound uncommonly strange and pretty brilliant (Devo and ABC especially). Spandau Ballet, however, are still awful. It’s a shame that the overall presentation of Lips doesn’t match this 80s theme, but I guess I Love The 80s isn’t really supposed to be seen or played as a standalone game, but rather an extension to a brand that is now, after three expansions, finally coming into its own.

Though the aforementioned SingStar is still the credible and ‘purer’ distillation of karaoke, Lips is the more videogamer-friendly alternative. It’s in the mechanics of play and game design here that iNiS’s rich heritage in interactive music titles (Gitaroo Man, Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan!) really comes through; the well-designed system awards medals for everything from pitch to rhythm, while a ‘star power’-esque multiplier fills with every note successfully hit. Using this multiplier at the right time relies on both skill and judgement and is key to the higher scores – a consistent run will push the multiplier into high double figures, but miss a note and suddenly you’re back down to one.

For its ace tracklisting and its winning, albeit unchanged, gameplay Lips: I Love The 80s is the best game yet in this series. While it would be nice to have received shoulder pads and leg warmers as Avatar Awards instead of the usual gold cups, these are trifling issues for a game so confidently packaged, so consummately developed. No surprises, then; they can all wait for, er, Lips: Natal Edition..

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