Review: Lips: Number One Hits

When it comes to singing games, I don’t mess around. I go all out, because my pipes beg to be strained. My voice longs to become hoarse and weak, and all for the sake of belting out some of my favorite tunes. And can you blame me? These days you can get virtually any song you want on most of the karaoke alternatives for gaming consoles. Many turn to Rock Band and the latest iterations of Guitar Hero for their singing fix, including myself. Still, I’ve rather enjoyed the simple pleasures I can get from Lips, Microsoft’s exclusive karaoke title. While the original game built a sturdy foundation on which the franchise could grow, I can’t exactly heap praise upon its pseudosequel Lips: Number One Hits. While it manages to hit some glorious high notes, its timbre is still a bit warbly — and that’s something that worries me about the future of the series.


The original Lips was an impressive, albeit expensive, package. It didn’t exactly turn the genre on its head, but bundled with swanky wireless microphones and simple jump-in, jump-out gameplay, it became a classy kind of karaoke for Xbox 360 gamers to whip out at parties or in the comfort of their own bedrooms. The initial song library was quite paltry, but each song was accompanied with a licensed music video and lyrics to liven up the experience. While there were few songs to choose from, the vibrato detection and focus on hitting the correct pitch was a standout to me from most games that are extremely lax with scoring vocals. Toss in a couple of party modes such as Kiss, Vocal Fighters, and the option to sing short or long versions of chart-topping hits, and Lips was made to get any party hoppin’, especially should someone choose to sing Lil’ Mama’s “Lip Gloss.”

lipsmcLips: Number One Hits is less of a standalone game than an overpriced expansion. If you’ve ever felt cheated by one of Guitar Hero’s many unnecessary installments, then you’ll undoubtedly question the logic behind iNIS’s decision to release such a half-baked attempt at a sequel. For $60, this bundle comes with one microphone and 40 songs. To put that in perspective, the original Lips came with two mics and the same amount of songs for $70. Sure, you’re paying ten dollars less, but for a party bundle the two mics are almost expected.

The forty songs encompass a wide variety of genres such as pop, electronica, 80s, country, and rap, with artists such as Lady Gaga, Aqua, and Marvin Gaye. Each song is presented with its own music video in this installment as well, and you have the option to play original Lips songs alongside brand new ones. Unfortunately, you must be willing to disc swap every single time you choose to play an original Lips track, which is absolutely inconvenient and archaic considering Rock Band and Guitar Hero’s track integration. Sure, it only takes a few seconds to swap discs out, but we should be past that by now.

The gameplay has been essentially unchanged save for the fact that a few tweaks have been made, and ones that I do appreciate in spite of the lack of true value you’re getting with this sequel. You’ll still sing to match the colored “tubes” featuring different pitches and lyrics. Simple right? However, rather than an everyman stick figure representing which gesture players must make to earn Performance medals, avatars have now been incorporated. It’s truly a more personal touch and one that (I suppose) gives avatars a little more meaning.

lips3While the previous game focused more on face-to-face interaction, Xbox Live play and challenges are more encouraged with the ever-changing rank that will appear on your screen and change according to how well you perform in a song. This serves as a reminder that you need to work a little harder if you want to be ranked higher amongst your friends or the rest of the world.  This dynamic ranking is an interesting little feature and one that score junkies should be aware of. You may also work harder to earn trophies that correspond to how well you’re doing on the international charts. It might be a little difficult, but earning those prize cups sure is a great feeling.

Earning Stars and Medals through singing perfectly is all well and good — that’s how you play the game, after all, but a special bonus has been implemented. You can now earn Avatar Awards via Lips: Number One Hits, which is a surprise in itself after waiting so long for games that finally support such. There are a total of ten to earn by playing and racking up Stars, so even if you’re not normally into karaoke games, you might be interested in bonus avatar unlockables. 

While I do enjoy the variety of songs, the inclusion of avatar awards, and the fact that you can use your previous Lips songs, the clumsy shuffling of the discs and the fact that Lips: Number One Hits is being sold as a full-priced sequel sets my teeth on edge. It’s a solid karaoke game that rewards skilled singers with plenty of songs, charm, and replayability, but it’s just not worth the $60 sticker price. Pick it up on the cheap for some more great Lips action, but if you’re pinching pennies you may as well borrow it from a friend or give it a rent.

Comments are closed.