Here’s a quiz: Complete the following song lyrics: “Salagadoola mechicka boola…” If you sang “Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo,” you either have a fairy godmother or you recall Disney’s classic Cinderella. Let’s try something more recent: “A wiki wiki mai lohi lohi lawe mai i ko papa he’e nalu…” Give up? The next line is: “Flyin’ by on the Hawaiian roller coaster ride.” If you got that one right, you have my sympathy for being trapped in a house with Lilo & Stitch 2.
Disney Sing It: Family Hits is a karaoke game that defines “hits” broadly. The 30 songs in the game include such popular favorites as “The Bare Necessities” and “Hakuna Matata.” But it also delves into the likes of “Reflection” from Mulan (Remember that movie? Me neither) and “I Wonder” from Sleeping Beauty. Clearly, Disney Sing It: Family Hits requires a comprehensive knowledge of Disney princess material and more than a passing familiarity with all things Pixar and direct-to-video. If you’re looking for classics like “Heigh-Ho” or even the theme from The Mickey Mouse Club, you’re out of luck.
But if the tunes are either creaking with age or still shrink-wrapped on the shelves, the technology behind Family Hits is sharp and up-to-date. Gone are the days when, in 2003’s Karaoke Revolution, I had to pitch my voice into falsetto to succeed at belting out “Like a Virgin.” The game adapts to my basso even when I’m rumbling through “Winnie the Pooh.” The game doesn’t measure the octave — it’s the relative pitch that counts.
Likewise, Family Hits is forgiving of a wide range of vocal abilities. On the game’s easiest difficulty level, I was able to get through “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” quacking like a duck, while on the hardest setting it penalized me whenever I missed a melodic swoop in “You Can Fly.” Getting the lyrics right doesn’t matter so much as rhythm and melody.
Still, I often found myself wishing that I knew those lyrics better. The game only displays a tiny portion of upcoming notes and words, so Disney fanatics (and anyone with ears who lives with them) will have an easier time attaining high scores. But everyone gets fireworks and applause after the last notes sound.
THE GOOD: As befits a family-friendly game, there are plenty of easy-to-understand multiplayer modes that can be played with either a single microphone — passing it back and forth — or two players singing together. Players can also choose individual difficulty levels, giving adults a fighting chance when crooning with the kids.
THE BAD: Instead of showing the movie scenes in which the songs are sung, Family Hits backs most of its songs with montage sequences that look like previews for the entire movie. This means that when players click “Encore” to hear their performances, they don’t get the chance to witness their own voices inserted into Disney films. But then, who wants to be in A Bug’s Life anyway?
THE BOTTOM LINE: Despite a few dissonant design choices, Disney Sing It: Family Hits tunes classic — and not-so-classic — Disney songs into the range of the whole family.