Lips: Number One Hits Review

By Dana Vinson - Posted Nov 06, 2009

Lips: Number One Hits is a souped up track pack masquerading as a full-price retail game. While there have been some noticeable improvements, those who want a fun karaoke experience should stick with the original game. Unfortunately, Number One Hits is a "must buy" for Lips devotees only.

The Pros
  • New in-song multiplier is fun
  • Improved navigation
  • Loads of DLC
The Cons
  • Questionable track list
  • Only comes with one wireless mic
  • No online competitive play

Lips is a fun game. If you’re a karaoke enthusiast, nothing can satiate your fix like Lips, with its scoring system and local versus mode. Even if you’re not the best singer in the world, karaoke is a merciful pastime, much like gift giving—it’s the thought that counts.

However, more thought should have been put into Lips: Number One Hits. Clearly a party game, the Lips franchise is built to entertain and Number One Hits has its moments; however, overall, the experience falls short. The biggest disappointment is that poor content and design choices deflate the gameplay experience.

Lips: Number One Hits

“She Drives Me Crazy”

Number One Hits does have some noticeable improvements over the original edition of the game. Aside from cleaner menus, navigational upgrades and avatar integration, they’ve also added a multiplier function to songs. The more notes you nail in a row, the higher your score skyrockets. Be ready to be perfectly on point though, as the multiplier is thoroughly unforgiving. You’ll find yourself singing the same song over and over again trying to get to the top of the global leaderboard.

The multiplier does tap into something animal and competitive, especially for solo players. When kicking your friends’ butts in versus mode isn’t enough, you can always conquer the other goofy-named players on the leaderboards.

But that’s where the improvement ends.

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This is the Worst Karaoke Bar Ever

To make a successful music game, a great track list is essential and Number One Hits just doesn’t deliver. Even though it does offer some of the guiltiest of guilty pleasures, the track list doesn’t add up to anything too exciting. The problem seems to stem from the fact that Number One Hits tries to cover too wide a breadth of genres and chooses songs that are, oddly enough, hard to sing.

Number One Hits isn’t Rock Band. You can practice a bit, but your natural talents will dictate your maximum capacity for hitting certain notes. That’s where Number One Hits doesn’t do you any favors. Some of the songs like Mariah Carey’s “Touch My Body” and Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry” are really freaking hard to sing, almost to the point of being no fun. On the other side of the spectrum, male vocals can almost be more of a pain. Bring your personal auto-tuner if you want to try and belt out Timbaland’s “Apologize” and Akon’s “Don’t Matter.”

Let me sum it up like this: Kanye West couldn’t even sing his number one hit “Heartless” live. What makes iNiS think you can do it?

It’s frustrating when you don’t especially like the tracks. When you’re playing guitar in a game like Rock Band and you don’t love a specific track, you concentrate on hitting the notes. There is no such distraction in a karaoke game. Not only do you have to know the song you’re singing, but you have to like it on some level too.

No matter where you fall on the pop music appreciation scale, there’s probably at least one song on Number One Hits that appeals to you, but the problem is the rest of them won’t. If you’re playing solo, the sad fact is that you’ll find yourself drawn to the same set of songs over and over again. With only 40 songs on the menu ranging from rap to R&B to oldies to adult contemporary, you’ll drive yourself crazy repeating the same tunes if your tastes aren’t extraordinarily broad.

If you’re playing at a party, you’ll run into a similar problem regardless of taste: 40 songs isn’t a lot and, before too long, you’ll cycle through the ones that people are willing to sing. Plus, a lot of the songs on the list don’t exactly scream party, unless you’re throwing your annual “Slow Jamz Extravaganza.”

Lips: Number One Hits

“I Don’t Feel Like Dancing”

If you’re looking to round out your song list, Lips does offer a ton of very cool DLC, but you don’t need Number One Hits to get it. The original Lips will let you download everything.

Speaking of the original, and this is one of the most troublesome things about the game, you can technically “import” your songs from Lips. Unlike Rock Band, however, it’s not truly an import and requires you to swap discs.

Yes, That’s right. You must swap discs.

This is a gigantic, mind-numbing pain in the ass. If you have save data from the original Lips on your 360, those songs will appear in your Number One Hits menu. If you select one of those songs, it will start normally, but just as you’re about ready to sing, the game will stop and ask you insert the original Lips disc. Then, when you’re done with the song, you must immediately put the Number One Hits disc back in to continue on…even if you’re going to sing another original Lips song. Ugg.

There are a few other head scratchers that should be mentioned. One, there still isn’t an online multiplayer mode. You can challenge your friends, but it’s based on scores achieved individually. Two, load times are abysmally long for some menus and between songs. Three, Freestyle Mode—where you plug in a storage device and sing along to your own music—is a joke and offers little in the way of an actual gameplay experience. Four, there are only a few new achievements in Number One Hits, with most of them piggybacking on the original game.

Finally, you can’t just buy the game. Number One Hits is only sold as a pre-packaged bundle with a wireless 360 microphone. The original Lips comes with two microphones. Granted, the mics can be used with other music games, but if Number One Hits was a $20 expansion pack only, it’d be a whole other ballgame and you’d get a lot more bang for your buck.

Lips: Number One Hits

“Don’t Worry, Be Happy”

All-in-all, Lips: Number One Hits feels like a stopgap. The track list is underwhelming and there aren’t enough improvements to warrant the full retail sticker price. However, Lips is still a fun game in concept and the next iteration will, hopefully, incorporate more gameplay improvements and have a better track list.

If you’re looking to get into Lips, pick up the original. If you’re already into the game, seriously consider taking the money you would have spent on Number One Hits and investing in some songs from the massive catalogue of DLC and waiting for the next Lips game to drop.