Singing wins out over shooting with Xbox ‘Lips 2’

15 Dec 2009

I have to admit to being a gaming fanatic, mostly the shoot-’em-up sort. The more bangs and explosions, the better. That’s probably why I took to Microsoft’s Xbox singing game Lips with relish: I murdered a fair few songs last night.

Painfully self-conscious at the best of times, you will never see me volunteer to karaoke at parties. Having listened to myself in the car singing along to the radio or while washing the dishes, my road to Carnegie Hall would be a disappointing one.

I’d seen the ads on TV for the Microsoft Xbox 360 game Lips, where a lithe, sexy young couple would break the ice and get the party started with their rendition of Young Folks by Peter Bjorn and John and I’d smirk to myself, nah.

But last night something happened. Whether out of boredom or morbid curiosity I decided to unleash the inner rock god (who probably ought to stay buried) and give Lips a crack.

The original Lips game comes with two microphones that synch pretty easily with the Xbox 360 and show off some pretty lights. They work with the Lips games, providing rhythm and allowing you to get into your groove.

Finding my groove wasn’t that difficult. The original plan was to build up Dutch courage with a jug of mojitos, but since the local supermarket hasn’t stocked mint since the summer I decided beer would have to do.

List of songs

Scanning through the song list on the original Lips game that came out last year, I decided on some safe numbers like The Editors’ An End Has a Start before growing a pair and chancing Duran Duran’s Hungry Like a Wolf and Radiohead’s Fake Plastic Trees. Not bad I thought, confidence building.

Then it was my partner’s turn and she had a go at Leona Lewis’s Bleeding Love, which ended with both of us collapsed on the floor, holding our splitting sides, from laughing.

The game system behind Lips shows the videos of the songs and it’s pretty easy to keep up with the words – most of the time. Every time you finish a song your points are totted up and you could enjoy a meteoric rise to super-nova status if you haven’t butchered the song too badly.

Having graduated from Lips 1 we decided to brave the latest incarnation of Lips: Number One Hits.

One difference

The not-too-subtle difference with the latest game is it takes the new song list, which includes artists from Lady GaGa to Scissor Sisters, and merges it directly with songs on the Xbox LIVE marketplace, encouraging you to buy more tracks to sing along to.

While there are a good number of songs to choose from on the marketplace, my feeling is there needs to be more by many more artists.

For example, there was only one Elvis track, Blue Christmas. Lips and other games of this genre actually represent a golden opportunity for labels and artists to sell content and while progressive bands like Coldplay and Snow Patrol have embraced this platform, many more could and should follow. I know, I know, it’s all down to copyright and formatting etc, but dammit, it’s a marketplace that works.

The Lips system allows you to compete with other players, as well as sing duets (definitely need a lot of mojitos for that), and I couldn’t imagine a greater complement to a family Christmas – lots of craic guaranteed, not just cracked lips from singing too much.

The advent of singing games like Lips and instrument-based games like Guitar Hero and Beatles Rock Band show just how far video gaming has travelled and proves it’s not all about violent shooter games.

I never expected it to be so enjoyable and I’m already planning to acquire more tracks. God help the neighbours, they probably think we’re murdering our cats.

By John Kennedy

Photo: The Lips: Number One Hits game.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years