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Article for the week of 1/11/09

‘Lips’ for Xbox 360 brings home karaoke to a fun new level

A Xbox 360 Review
By Ezra Mann

(These articles have also been published at and soon at

If you had asked me at even a recent point in my life my thoughts on singing as a form of group entertainment I’d would have said I’d only be involved with a generous amount of alcohol. At a bar this fact would still be true, but a recent Microsoft release has shown me that it is indeed possible to make this happen sans tipsy within the home.
When I first received the package with two microphones and the disc I was filled with a dread that only an intelligent person watching American Idol can understand. Yet, after looking at some of the song selections and after testing the vocal title with friends, it actually started to grow on me. “Lips” for the Xbox 360 may be the karaoke title that brings humanity together in chorus, however out of tune that may be.
The goal of this lyrical adventure is rather obvious, but the better you are, the better you will be scored during a challenge. You can sing by your lonesome, play with a friend or jam out with as many as six people at home or on Xbox Live.
Singing options include freestyle, jukebox mode and singing to your own music collection from select mp3 players if you get bored singing the 40 songs included with the game. Yet, fret not if you want more music because you can download tracks off of Live for just a few points here and there. Then you can keep jamming as ascend levels until you are the top singer in the game.
As with other 360 games you have a number of achievements that you can earn along the way and there are even some in the game that come with how much skill you display. You can earn medals for pitch, stability and other techniques including rhythm which later add up to the big point achievements later on.
The best thing of all is this is really a game that is appropriate for the whole family with tunes that will please a wide age range. No other singing game so far has featured a stretch from “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash to “Walk Like an Egyptian” by The Bangles and “Complicated” by Avril Lavigne. If I can have a good time with my parents, most others should be able to make due.
This game has all it needs to be successful and I highly recommend it for all gamers, even shower singers. You’ll not be disappointed and will get more than a few hours lost in the fun.
The only thing that you might need is a referee to make sure everyone gets to take a turn. For a great surprise that will keep on giving I give “Lips” for the Xbox 360 five and a quarter out of six toggles. Now excuse me while I bust a move.

“Monkey Mischief” for the Wii several bananas short of a bunch
By Ezra Mann (Editor in Spoof)
The term copycat is generally not a positive term, even in the video game market where imitation can at least sell a few copies. In this case the redundancy is not a partner to flattery, but such seems the case when it comes to many a party game.
When I saw the title and cover I didn’t think award winner, but since the last chimp related game I reviewed was all kinds of win I was hoping at least for some carry over. Unfortunately, when Activision released “Monkey Mischief” along with “Block Party” the two might as well have been the same game sans the participating characters. So if you already have one of those titles, don’t expect a lot of reason to go and snag the other.
Like the kid themed party game this one has some activities where you can snag the over advantage and others where you can’t seem to get an edge if you play the computer opponent. There is some difference in monkey games like alligator wrestling, but even with a group of people there isn’t a lot to make one want to play for more than an hour or so.
The controls are the only real winner, yet it isn’t enough to save it from mediocrity. At best you’ll have something that’s good for a weekend rental. I suppose it could also be turned into a drinking game.
There’s not a lot that’s inappropriate which makes it a safe game if you just want something for mashing buttons. For a game that quickly gave me reason to play something else I give “Monkey Mischief” for the Wii two out of six toggles.

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