Review: Yoostar 2 – In The Movies (Sony PS3)

Yoostar 2
Developer: Blitz Games
Publisher: Yoostar
Genre: Party Game
Release Date: 3/8/2011

I can distinctly remember, back when DVD finally started to become more than just a fringe format, visiting a friend’s apartment one night and finding myself playing a DVD-based movie trivia board game with a group of about five people. There was an actual board, with pieces, dice, cards, etc. And the DVD was used to play various clips and clues to go along with whatever trivia question you were being asked.

We laughed, we cut up, we made fools of ourselves with the various mini-challenges, and most importantly, we had a good time.

Now, try to imagine what the experience would be like if you took away everything except for the DVD, added a webcam, and threw in some truly horrible chroma key/green screen software.

Congratulations. Now you don’t ever have to play Yoostar 2.

1. Game Modes

Yoostar 2 boils down to a very simple premise. You and your friends get in front of the PS3 Eye, and are superimposed over actors in famous scenes (or not-so-famous depending on the clip) from various movies.

There are various different modes, none of which are overly fun or innovative. You have a free play mode, where you can choose to either try and play the role as closely to the original as possible, or you can choose to ad-lib and plug in your own lines. You’re rated on body movement, tone of voice, line reading, timing, etc. Or at least, you’re SUPPOSED to be. I’ll get to that in the gameplay section.

Then there is a sort of career mode where you have to complete various challenges. This is the mode that is closest to those old DVD board games. There is a map of sorts, with each section containing various scene challenges in which you and your friends have to outdo each other. These will be the same scenes you played in the Free Play mode, but with the rules for winning changed with each scene. There are also movie set challenges, which can difficult to pull off depending on the space you have, and background challenges, where you have do various things in the background of a scene, which can also be hard to pull off depending on the size of your living room.

That’s all there is, folks. In today’s modern era, and especially with the console’s video chat capabilities, I was hoping for a mode where you could act with players online in the same scene, so perhaps I and my friend Retro from Australia (I’m constantly asking him when he’s going back to the studio for the next Midnight Oil album) could act out a scene from 300. But alas, Yoostar 2 does not provide such an experience. In fact, half the time I couldn’t even get it to detect two people on camera at once in the same room for two player scenes. Then again, the game gives you no indication of whether or not a scene is two player until after you select it, but hey, I’m getting ahead of myself.

2. Graphics

Once again, I am reminded of those old DVD board games. You have your typical menu set up made to look like a film reel, with “Hooray For Hollywood” style music playing in the background, and a Ryan Seacrest sound-a-like acting as narrator. It’s all “lobby of the Great Movie Ride” inspired, until you actually try to play the game.

There’s no nice way to put it: The chroma-key effect used in this game looks like straight garbage. Old school weatherman green screen footage from the 70’s looked better than this. There’s heavy artifacting all over the place. The slightest movement anywhere in the background (such as a small dog repositioning itself on the couch) causes a huge gap in the background image, like a misshapen window into an alternate reality that just happens to be… well… reality. And the foreground is no better. More often than not, the top of your head is cut off, your legs are missing, and there are various holes all over you.

Now, at first I thought that perhaps this was just your usual PS Eye lighting issues, such as what can be seen in Kung Fu Live. But I even tried correcting the effect by additional lighting to my living room and hanging up the green screen I use for my Youtube videos directly behind me, and the effect was STILL broken. I then went online and searched through other reviews of the game, and found that the Xbox 360 version has had complaints of the same issue, despite the Kinect’s quality advantage.

It’s sad but true. I could pull off a better chroma-key effect myself with a 20.00 Logitech webcam and a green bedsheet. Its disappointing, to say the least, considering the fact that the entire game’s experience hinges on its ability to put you in the scene. I can remember going to EPCOT back in 1984, and on the top floor of the Imagination Pavilion was an experience where you could stand up in front of a green screen and they could put you anywhere, from sitting and talking to Johnny Carson to beaming up to the Enterprise, and that looked a thousand times better than this. I can take my kid to Chuck E. Cheese’s, and they have a camera and green screen in the back that puts the kids in front of whatever’s playing on the big screen up on the stage. That effect is not only at least 4-5 years old, but also is of much higher quality than this. It’s just sad.

3. Sound

There’s not much to say here. As stated, there’s a Ryan Seacrest sound-a-like narrator, and some generic Hollywood music here and there. Aside from that, you have some canned audience applause, and that’s it.

4. Control and Gameplay

This is one of the most game-free games I’ve ever played. In practice, playing Yoostar 2 is sort of similar to the various karaoke-based games out there, like the vocal tracks for Rock Band, Guitar Hero, Singstar, and so on. First you watch the scene unedited. Then you line yourself up with an outline on the screen so you match the positioning of the actor. Then the scene starts, and a sort of scrolling teleprompter tells you what your line is, and when to say it. A running scorecard at the bottom grants you points for reading the line on queue, reading it accurately, and so on. That pretty much the entire game, with one small caveat: the game can’t tell what your doing 90% of the time.

In my time with the game, I found that I had zero fun with it at all, until I just started ad-libbing my lines on every clip, then sitting back and laughing at the points awarded. Once I stopped paying attention to my lines at the top of the screen, I started winning trophies left and right. I scored over 220,000 points for a scene from Rocky where all of my dialogue was spoken in indecipherable Stallone grunts and wheezes, along with a reference to Burgess Meredith’s famous Twilight Zone episode. I played one scene where I was being questioned, and I just kept repeating the phrase “Me kill b*tthole!” in a Captain Caveman voice and it awarded me a silver trophy for perfect performance (unfortunately, I didn’t get this one on tape.). Yes folks, I am usually that easily amused, so that should tell you how much fun doesn’t come in the package. In other words, most of the entertainment will be provided by you and you alone.

In short, while the game seems to be able to roughly tell when you should or shouldn’t be talking, it cannot tell at all whether you’re speaking the line it’s reading off to you. As long as you time it with the moving teleprompter, you can speak utter gibberish like a pentecostal on meth and the game will sing your praises and toss trophies at you like it’s Halloween candy.

6. Balance

Each video has a rating on it gauging its supposed difficulty. I think the most difficult one I saw was for The Mummy. It’s the scene where Benni is cornered by Imhotep and he starts going through his various religious trinkets and prayers hoping one will ward the mummy off. But once more, thanks to the game’s engine not really being able to perform as advertised, you can get past this scene’s difficulty, or any scene’s for that matter, by blabbering complete and utter nonsense, so long as you time it with the moving teleprompter. In other words, this game is a trophy whore’s dream come true.

7. Originality

This game is original in the sense that there aren’t any other games out there that put you in scenes from actual movies and rates you on them like Yoostar 2 does, but the way it pulls it off has been done to death in various camera games over the years. Essentially Yoostar 2 just takes aspects from other older games, including those aforementioned DVD board games, and clumps them all together to see what sticks, so it should be no surprise to you that, short of the fun that can be had with friends by downing a few drinks and making complete fools of yourselves, the experience falls flat.

8. Addictiveness

Once you’ve gone through the 80 or so scenes that come on the disk, you’ve seen everything there is to offer. Except for the DLC. You see, Yoostar is trying to play the Rock Band game by offering additional DLC content. But with Guitar Hero, DJ Hero, or Rock Band, you’re buying three to five minute songs that multiple people can play without the system getting confused, songs that are fun to master regardless of how many attempts you make. I don’t see the same “gotta give it one more try” addictive fun factor when you’re paying to essentially read lines off the screen for 30 seconds a pop.

9. Appeal Factor

The PS3 is a machine that is, for the most part, embraced by the hardcore and ignored by everyone else (besides those wanting a blu-ray player that can also play Madden) so I don’t really see why it was even released on it. Nor do I see it being a huge hit on the 360, as it doesn’t really take advantage of the Kinect hardware’s unique feature set at all. This seems like something the Wii crowd would enjoy, if only the Wii had a webcam that was up to the task. It’s that shallow of an experience. It feels like an interactive webcam game you might find on a free-to-play casual game website, like Pogo or Yahoo Games.

10. Miscellaneous

One of the things I find most amusing about this release are all the references to the Playstation Move all over the box. They really want you to know that Yoostar 2 is a Playstation Move title.

Then you actually play the game and discover that all the Move does is scroll left or right to select the next clip. That’s it. There’s not even any cheesy motion based mini-games. You just scroll the clip wheel left or right. Nice to know my 100.00 investment in the Move bought me a laser pointer with an invisible laser.

The Scores
Modes: Mediocre
Graphics: Mediocre
Sound: Decent
Control and Gameplay: Poor
Replayability: Mediocre
Balance: Poor
Originality: Mediocre
Addictiveness: Poor
Appeal Factor: Mediocre
Miscellaneous: Poor
FINAL SCORE: Below Average Game!

Short Attention Span Summary
This is one of those titles that tries really hard to make you feel like you’re actually playing a game, actually accomplishing something, but it’s more of an illusion than anything else. It wants you to feel like you’re really being graded on your performance, but you can rack up large scores by just talking in gibberish. (Click here to see for yourself.) In that respect, Yoostar 2 would have been a perfect fit on the Sega CD, Phillips CD-I, or Panasonic 3DO had any of them had web cams, as many of the titles on those systems were just like Yoostar 2: a collection of film clips pretending to be a video game.



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