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Review #365

Disney Sing It: Family Hits
Publisher: Disney Interactive
Developer: Zoe Mode
Genre: Karaoke
Release Date: 08/04/2010

I have two funny things for you. The first is that although both Mark B. and myself are considered to be the most diehard gamers on the staff, playing obscure, retro and horrible games alike, both of us have a weakness for Karaoke video games. Hell, I even imported Singstar 2 because it came out in Europe a year before it hit the States. The second is that although I’ve seen every Disney and Pixar film released (or re-released in the case of animated features older than myself), I can’t really say I’m a big fan of Disney – or at least a big enough fan to own a lot of their stuff. I own Lilo & Stitch, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, and all four of the rare and overpriced on Ebay The Chronological Donald sets. I’d probably add Aladdin, The Lion King, and Hercules if Disney would ever release them on Blu-Ray though.

Which brings me to Disney Sing It: Family Hits. When I first asked our head of PR, DJ Tatsujin, to request a review copy of this game, I did so with a specific request to get the PS3 version so I could review it. This is because I may not own a lot of Disney, but I can’t deny that the music to their animated features is often incredible…or at least incredibly fun. This way, I got what is often my favourite part of Disney films, I got to add another karaoke game to my collection and most of all, I got to see clips of Disney movies in full 1080i/p. The latter of which was the big one as this would be the first time that any piece of these films would get a high definition release.

So how was the game? Has Disney put out a title worthy of Singstar or Karaoke Revolution, or is this game akin more to the horrible licensed games that accompany most Disney films?

Let’s Review

1. Modes

You actually have a nice diversity of modes here in Family Hits. You’ve got Sing It!, which is where a single player just dives into a one song from the thirty tracks in the game. You get a score and then you and pick something else, leave the game, replay the song or enter what is called Encore Mode. Encore Mode actually plays your performance back so you can view how you did since you were more than likely concentrating on singing rather than listening. This is a neat feature but most people hate to listen to themselves sing so this might be painful for a lot of gamers, but it can also help you grow in terms of paying attention to your pitch.

Party Play is where the majority of the options are. You can do a Duet where you and your partner each use the same mike or different ones. You can also do a Vs. Duet mode where two teams of two square off. Competition is where you and up to six friends all sing the same song to see who can get the best score. You can also create a playlist for the songs to create a long running competition with your friends. Performance Mode lets you sing a song without any of the words or the pitch of the notes showing up on screen. This is best left to the most ardent of Disney fans. Team Play lets you create teams of singers to square off against each other in a karaoke competition and finally there is Family Mode, where up to six people share a mike and pass it around, trying to sing a song together. This is a cute idea, especially if you have little kids in your abode…or highly competitive parents.

There is one last mode that is definitely worth mentioning and that’s Vocal Coach. Here you get to sing along with Anika Noni Rose, who played Princess Tania in The Princess and the Frog. In Vocal Coach, you work on improving your range and pitch, along with proper singing techniques and conditioning. I loved that a karaoke game finally put something like this in and it’s as fun as it is helpful. Wonderful touch.

Overall there is a lot to do in Disney Sing It: Family Hits and if you have friends and/or family that are into karaoke, this disc will be a proud part of your collection for quite some time.

Modes Rating: 7/10

2. Graphics

Earlier I mentioned my lament over the fact Disney has only released a few classic films onto Blu-Ray, leaving high-definition for Pixar’s CGI films. Look, I like Pixar as much as the next guy but CGI just doesn’t hold up to classical hand-drawn animation, especially in terms of facial expressions or the range and depth of colour. Compare something like Monsters Inc., where the humans are…interesting looking and Aladdin where you are given a bevy of human emotions that can be understoof without dialogue and a veritable rainbow of colours.

Nothing shows the strengths of hand drawn vs. cgi animation better than this game. Your mouth will drop when you play one of the songs from The Lion King. I’ve seen that film in theatres, on vhs and on DVD, but I don’t ever remember it looking this amazing. Then play something like Cars and the visual quality (although both are in 1080p) just PLUMMETS. It’s still quite nice as far as high definition CGI visuals go, but all of the CGI pales in comparison to even CLIPS of the hand-drawn Disney animation that is finally allowed to be viewed in all its glory.

At the same time some things definitely show their age, like The Jungle Book or< I>Mary Poppins. The former is a bit scratchy in appearance, also that might just be that what is shown here is the best quality copy of the film left. With the latter, you can see the cracks in the idea of overlaying animation with real life people.

Visually, Family Hits is a true treat. If anything it’s made me wish Disney would get off their duff and release their back catalog on blu-ray, or at least go back to doing hand drawn films that were of the caliber we saw in the early 1990s and not the insane sequal-it is that led to things like Bambi II or Cinderella III. Ugh.

Graphics Rating: 9/10

3. Sound

There are thirty different songs on Family Hits, but after playing through the game, I have to sit here and wonder who picked these tracks. Out of the thirty, I’d say only half are actual classic tracks or even fun to sing. The other fifteen just left me question who thought it was a good idea to put them on here. I gave a pass to the two The Princess and the Frog songs as it was Disney’s newest film but FOUR songs from Cinderella when only one from that movie is even remembered by 90% of the people that saw the film? THREE from Toy Story, one of which is thirty seconds long? REALLY? There’s even two songs from Cars, a movie very few people I know even liked, and from which I have never heard anyone say, “Boy that movie had catchy songs.” In fact, both songs from that film were the worst on the game and could have easily been pushed out for something you know…good.

Here’s a track list for you. The ones in bold are the ones I feel belong in the game and the ones in italics are the “What the Heck?” tracks. This doesn’t mean I thought the movie was bad if the song is in italics = just that it should have been left off for something better, catchier, or more familiar to Disney fans.

Cruella De Ville – 101 Dalmatians A true classic, if not a great one
The Time of Your Life - A Bug’s Life Did anyone even know this song when the film first came out?
A Whole New World - Aladdin The fact this is the only song from Aladdin makes me sad.
Be Our Guest – Beauty and the Beast The only one from this film too. What the heck?
Our Town – Cars AWFUL song. Just a waste of good space on the disc.
Real Gone – Cars Ditto.
A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes – Cinderella Didn’t need to be on here especially with…
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo – Cinderella One of the most famous of all Disney songs.
So This is Love - Cinderella This movie did not need four songs.
The Work Song – Cinderella This barely makes the positive list.
I Wanna Be Like You – The Jungle Book Famous, but mostly scat so kids might have trouble.
The Bare Necessities – The Jungle Book Wonderful catchy song.
He’s a Tramp – Lady and the Tramp - A fun torch song.
Can You Feel the Love Tonight – The Lion King Not the Elton John one, but still a great choice.
Hakuna Matata – The Lion King This was a no-brainer.
I Can’t Wait to be King – The Lion King Surprised this was on here, but glad it was.
Under the Sea – The Little Mermaid People would have rioted without this one.
If I Didn’t Have You – Monsters Inc. Good film, bad song. It’s just not fun to sing.
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious – Mary Poppins AWESOME.
Reflection – Mulan Just not fun to sing. Not one of Disney’s best films either…
Almost There – The Princess and the Frog - Neither a fun nor a catchy song.
Dig a Little Deeper – The Princess and the Frog - Very fun track with a gospel flair.
You Can Fly – Peter Pan An all time classic.
I Wonder – Sleeping Beauty - Why is this on here?
Once Upon a Dream – Sleeping Beauty Dull, slow and not very fun. Classic film, mediocre songs.
You’ve Got a Friend in Me – Toy Story Makes sense, with the new film out.
When She Loved me – Toy Story 2 Depressing song that no one is going to want to sing.
Woody’s Roundup – Toy Story There are better “theme songs” that could have been here.
Hawaiian Roller Coaster Rider –Lilo & Stitch 2 Fun, but nothing from the first film?
Winnie the Pooh – Winnie the Pooh Great choice, and it’s as adorable as ever.

So eighteen out of thirty songs are actual quality ones. Well, it’s a better success rate than a lot of Singstar titles. Still, I’d have preferred only one song per film if they were going to clutter the game up with multiple tracks from films that no one ever remembers the music too. Such a waste. Off just the top of my head I was able to think of a whopping forty-three songs that aren’t on the game and that people I know would enjoy singing. Zoe Trope could have easily switched out those twelve tracks for any of the ones of the list below and it would have been a MUCH better karaoke collection.

The Headless Horseman – The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
Arabian Nights – Aladdin
Never Had a Friend Like Me – Aladdin
One Jump Ahead –Aladdin
Prince Ali - Aladdin
Everybody Wants to Be a Cat –The Aristocats
Thomas O’Malley Cat - The Aristocats
Beauty and the Beast – Beauty and the Beast
Gaston – Beauty and the Beast
Rescue Rangers Theme –Chip N’ Dale’s Rescue Rangers
Darkwing Duck Theme –Darkwing Duck
Deh Furher’s Face – Donald Duck
Duck Tales theme – Duck Tales
Pink Elephants on Parade – Dumbo
Best of Friends - The Fox and the Hound
Go the Distance –Hercules
The Gospel Truth - Hercules
Hero to Zero – Hercules
The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind – The Great Mouse Detective
Gummy Bears Theme – Gummy Bears
Kim Possible Theme – Kim Possible
We Are Siamese – Lady and the Tramp
Kiss the Girl – The Little Mermaid
Chim Chim Cher-ee – Mary Poppins
Jolly Holiday –Mary Poppins
A Spoonfull of Sugar - Mary Poppins
Mickey Mouse Song –Mickey Mouse Club
This is Halloween – The Nightmare Before Christmas
Oogie Boogie’s Song – The Nightmare Before Christmas
Once Upon a Time in New York City – Oliver and Company
Why Should I Worry – Oliver & Company
Following the Leader – Peter Pan
I’ve Got No Strings - Pinocchio
When You Wish Upon A Star – Pinocchio
Colors of the Wind – Pocahontas
Ooh De Lally – Robin Hood
Heigh Ho – Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
Some Day My Prince Will Come – Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
Whistle While You Work – Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah – Song of the South
You’ll Be In My Heart –Tarzan
Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf – The Three Little Pigs
The Wonderful Thing about Tiggers – Winnie the Pooh

LOOK at some of these classic tracks that are missing. Come ON Disney; how did you let some of these be excluded from the game? Well, hopefully we get a second disc that contains some (or preferably ALL) of the above tracks. I’ll be nice and say this was a GOOD selection, but with twelve songs just taking up space on this collection, this karaoke package is far from GREAT.

Sound Rating: 7/10

4. Control and Gameplay

Oddly enough, there’s not much to say here. You sing into your microphone )either one you purchased with a bundle or any old Singstar mikes that you might already own. The key is to sing in both time and tune with the songs. You only use a controller to navigate through the list of tracks or the different game options. It’s a nice simple game that anyone can pick up and start playing. Just make sure you have microphones before you buy it. The game is also Playstation Eye compatible, but I’ve yet to find a way that this does anything for the game or why you’d even want to use it.

Family Hits is actually easier to navigate through than Singstar’s wonky menus and it was a blast to play.

Control and Gameplay Rating: 8/10

5. Replayability
Even if I only liked eighteen out of thirty songs, the eighteen that I did like were ones I can happily sing again and again. They are amongst the most famous and catchy of all Disney movies and even if I didn’t like the film like The Little Mermaid, I still love the soundtrack and can croon “Under the Sea” a dozen times over without getting sick of it. The only things really lacking here are online play and the ability to download new tracks for the game. That would pretty much propel this game to the stratosphere for Disney fans.

The trophies in the game will keep you playing for a long time as well. One requires that you sing 150 songs while another that you score 100,000,000 points total on your game. Considering each song’s max is roughly 1.2 million points and you have a lot of crooning to do, mate.

Replayability Rating: 8/10

6. Balance

Unlike Singstar which can be pretty unforgiving to people even on its lowest difficulty setting, Family Hits does a wonderful job of making its three difficulty settings dramatically different from each other. Easy just lets you sing the song, without worrying about pitch or even being in tune. If you can’t sing but love to, this is for you as you only have to worry about keeping time with the beat. Medium requires that you stay in tune, but you can be an octave or two over, which is great if you’re a Bass 2 like me and trying to sing a higher pitched song. Hard is about the same as Singstar’s hard, so you’ve got to be both good and confident about your singing abilities there

I loved that kids and newbies to karaoke can actually still get a decent score on Family Hits, but what I loved most is that easy just let you sing for the sake of singing. This alone will make it appealing to younger gamers or those that don’t want to be told they’re doing it wrong.

Balance Rating: 8/10

7. Originality

For the past two generations of consoles, we’ve had a flurry of karaoke games. Even Disney has released a few, although it’s mainly been pop hits like Miley Cyrus or High School Musical crap. It’s taken Disney this long to actually release a karaoke disc containing some of the most popular songs from movie history, animated or otherwise and it’s about freaking time!

That being said, the fact this is all music from animated Disney features is the only thing truly separating Family Hits from being just another karaoke disc in the deluge of those already out there.

Originality Rating: 3/10

8. Addictiveness

The game arrived from Disney Friday afternoon. Unfortunately, a storm with near tornado strength winds hit the DC Metro area Thursday at about 3:45pm. The power was out until 2:45am Saturday morning. This meant I got to play the game at about 4pm Saturday night. I finally turned it off a little after midnight and had 80% of the trophies unlocked and a very horse throat that needed a cough drop or two for soothing purposes. I was sucked into Family Hits like you wouldn’t believe and had the hardest time putting the mike down. I just wanted to keep seeing some of these classic songs from my childhood. Even as I slept before writing this review, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” kept playing in my head as I slept.

Family Hits is a hard game to put down even if you’re not a Disney fan simply due to the strength of the tracks. Get a group of friends together, all of which enjoy karaoke, and there’s a good chance this will see more play in your console than either Singstar or Karaoke Revolution. Tipsy “Hakuna Matata” duets are almost a given.

Addictiveness Rating: 8/10

9. Appeal Factor

Disney has a legion of fans, it’s true, but you never really see any karaoke game at the top of the charts. A lot of people, gamers especially, aren’t very extroverted and are rather self-conscious so you generally only see people singing when it’s in a group ensemble ala Rock Band. I’ve never understood why someone playing virtual guitar makes it easier for someone to sing, but hey, whatever works.

Disney fans who don’t already have karaoke mikes for their PS3 will have to shell out for the Family Hits bundle, but that shouldn’t be too bad as the bundle is only ten dollars more and at $49.99, it’s still ten bucks less than the average PS3 game’s MSRP. If you use your PS3 for party games and you have friends that like or love Disney movies, then this is definitely a safe purchase. Remember, “Easy” just lets you thing as off key as you want as long as you’re keeping the beat and so people that are a bit intimidated by a video game rating one’s singing ability can belt out a tune or two and still get a nice score.

Appeal Factor: 6/10

10. Miscellaneous

I hate to end this review on a downer but here we go. Family Hits is about ten dollars more than a Singstar disc and it lacks the online features of Sony’s first party karaoke franchise. Family Hits also lacks the ability to download new tracks, so if you really wanted “Colors of the Wind,” you are out of luck unless this sells well enough to generate a sequel (hopefully one with a better track list). Still, Family Hits does have a better overall track quality rate than a Singstar disc due to Sony’s franchise having to cater to all musical tastes while Family Hits is just Disney showtunes. Hopefully we WILL get a second volume of Family Hits and maybe that will add on some of these features, as well as include some of the songs that were sorely missed from this collection. I’m still flabberghasted “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” wasn’t on here. Stupid being attached to a movie featuring slavery.

Miscellaneous Rating: 5/10

The Scores
Modes: 7/10
Graphics: 9/10
Sound: 7/10
Control and Gameplay: 8/10
Replayability: 8/10
Balance: 8/10
Originality: 3/10
Addictiveness: 8/10
Appeal Factor: 6/10
Miscellaneous: 5/10
Total Score: 69
FINAL SCORE: 7.0 (GOOD GAME!)

Short Attention Span Summary
Disney Sing It: Family Hits not only finally provides a chance to sing classic Disney showtunes in a karaoke fashion, but also the ability to view clips of Disney movies in full high definition. For many of these films, this is your first chance to see them in such a fashion. The game itself is one of the better karaoke games out there, with a sliding difficulty setting to ensure everyone can have fun belting own their own rendition of something like “Hakuna Matata.” The downside is that about a dozen of the tracks on the disc are either neither any fun to sing nor a classic song in any regard. That’s space that could have been filled by better and more memorable tracks, but I guess that’s what sequels are for. In all, Disney Sing Hit: Family Hits is one of the better karaoke games out there, and if you’re a fan of Disney’s animated features at all, this is going to be the one to pick up.

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