Lips didn't seem like a game I'd pick up since I already had the Rock Band games in my collection and if I wanted to just sing I'd just pop it in with the microphone attached. The microphones that came with it are pretty cool though with the ability to sense motion, change color, and being wireless. Curiously, iNiS Corp decided to release another bundle rather than produce the songs as DLC so here we have Lips: Number One Hits.
The theme, as you can grab from the title, is that all the songs achieved the number one spot on the charts at one time or another. The time though isn't limited a certain era as there are number one songs spanning from the 60s to today. 40 songs are available on the onset with a coupon in the game for an additional 5 songs for free. You get to choose from four different packs of 5 which collection you want. The song list is pretty subjective and it's one of those things where it's hard to comment whether it's a good list or not because everyone has different tastes. Lips: Number One Hits, in my opinion, has a decent variety of songs to choose from. Seeing as this is a collection of popular music selections that have made it to the top of the charts, you'll have a good chance of find a few songs you like and would like to sing to.
For those that have never played Lips, the game's pretty straight forward. You sign along with the song and score higher by filling up the song bars. As you fill up the song bar your meter also fills up and when full you can tilt the mic to activate the ability to acquire stars (which I will go into why this is needed in a little bit). At certain times there will be poses on the screen that can earn you more points should you perform them with the mic. One new thing though is that if you have an Avatar made, you'll see the Avatar perform the move rather than some silhouette of a person doing so. It adds a little more personal feel to the game and it's nice to at least see another game use the Avatar for something. At the core it's a basic karaoke game that displays the music video while you are playing. There are also some different gameplay modes such as stopping a bomb from exploding or having a couple come together to kiss that takes how you are doing in the game and the motion capability of the mic to play but they are small side games that I didn't find too interesting.
The game's pretty generous though in scoring for you and even a bad singer like me did well on some songs. This might turn off the hardcore singers but it does allow a greater number of people to participate and have fun even if you have a horrible voice. There's no difficulty setting so everyone plays at the same setting and the game's just very lenient in grading how you are doing. The game's still going to award the better singers of course but it's good to see that it's not too harsh on those without the talent to sing as well.
Since this is more of a party game, you can't fail so no matter how bad you are you'll always reach the end of the song. This makes it pretty accessible for players of all skill sets. Another cool thing is that if you are playing by yourself and someone else wants to join in, all they have to do is shake the other mic and a new bar pops up for the second player to fill up. You don't have to quit the game out to get the other person in making it a nice simple process. Both of these features makes Lips: Number One Hits an ideal karaoke party game whereby the system can just be on and people can go up to their leisure to play if they want to.
If there are a few folks around who want to participate but no more mics are available, they can pick up the controller and create some beats by pressing on one of the four face buttons. Some songs have different sounds you can create such as a tambourine, clapping, drum beat, etc. For those that don't want to sing but want to do something, this is an option for them.
As you play you'll achieve various statuses and level up by earning enough stars. Remember how I mentioned earlier that you can tilt your mic to activate the ability to acquire stars? Well, the number of stars is used to "level" yourself to various titles in the game. The title isn't anything that's too important to the overall scheme of things but it gives you a little something to shoot for.
Unfortunately, you can't store the songs from the first disc on the hard drive and just play with Number One Hits in the drive tray. I would've liked to have seen iNiS take the Harmonix route and have you pay a small fee to store the songs on the hard drive so you don't have to swap the disks if you do have the first game. It's a little kludgy to do so and with today's technology we shouldn't have to be forced to do this if we want to use the songs from the first game on Number One Hits. Hopefully, a patch or some resolution in the future will fix this but for now if you want to sing all the songs and you own both games, you'll need to do the ole disk switcheroo.
Right now as of this writing, it looks like DLC for the first Lips game won't work with Lips: Number One Hits. The team knows about this and is working on a solution or otherwise I'd have really knocked it down if they decided not to address the issue. Speaking of DLC, the game does tease you a bit in the menu system about it. You'll see the listing of the 40 or 45 songs you own but it says there are 128 songs to sing. Not true as they list the potential songs you can have if you purchase all the DLC that the menu displays. It's nice that you don't have to get out of the game to pick up the new songs listed but it's a little misleading to see the amount songs available to sing only to realize that it is only if you purchase all of them in the view. As time goes by, more songs will be easily accessible through this menu. The 128 songs I mentioned was the number at the time I first started reviewing and now there's more in the store to pick up.
Those that love achievements will be disappointed to know that Lips: Number One Hits just tacks on to the original achievements while adding a few. Yeah, there's not another 1000 points or so to earn but for a person like me who doesn't care about achievements, it's not something I'm going to miss. Others though might find it more annoying that they are paying full price for a game and not getting another batch of new achievements to pull off.
The feature of using your music player to play is back but like the first game, the game won't download the lyrics or the video to view. So, you're left with singing to a generic video and don't know how well you are doing. In theory it's a good idea but it still needs some work to really make it a key component of the series. Of course, if they do this then why would anyone want to buy any of the DLC then instead of just taking songs from their collection to play in the game?
For those that like to play with friends online, Lips: Number One Hits doesn't have any way to do so which is a little disappointing. It's not like other music games don't have the ability to let you play online but you can only see friends and leader board scores of other Lips players as far as online functionality is concerned. If you do get a score that puts you near the top, you can earn a trophy to be displayed when you choose that song. For example, being in the current top 100 will earn you a gold trophy that your Avatar will hold proudly. It's all based on the current score so when I first started it I automatically got a gold trophy since only around 40 or so people had the game. Now, it's much harder to earn a gold, silver, or bronze trophy. You won't ever lose it once you earn one though so I'm glad I was happy to keep those "hard-earned" trophies.
In the end, Lips: Number One Hits is a polished up version of the first game with Avatar support built in. It may look at a glorified expansion pack but if you want to go by value, purchasing each song individually would definitely be more expensive than getting the bundle. For those that want a karaoke game and just have fun with it, Lips: Number One Hits is a good pick up. People can jump in at anytime and sing a duet and there are a few little features that make it a good experience. It's definitely got some drawbacks and some design issues but those that love to sing will enjoy the game nevertheless.
(Update - The DLC for Lips should now work with Lips: Number One Hits)
Lips: Number One Hits is a more polished version of the first game with some Avatar support. It's too bad you have to do a disc swap if you want to sing the songs from the first game. A nice little easy karaoke game for those what enjoy singing with easy accessibility for all skill levels