The original YooStar was a product that screamed to be
called a game – only its creators adamantly resisted the label, saying it was
an interactive social experience. Now under new management, the company is
embracing its play roots and coming to consoles in the near future.
The concept is a simple one: Movie karaoke. Users are able
to take famous film scenes and swap themselves in for one or both of the actors
on screen. (The well-known “it’s dark and we’re wearing sunglasses” scene from
“The Blues Brothers” is a popular choice.) With the dawn of Microsoft’s Kinect
controller, though, it’s easier than ever to jump in – and YooStar may finally
live up to its potential. (The game will also be published for the PlayStation
The original experience was something of an onerous one.
PC-only, it required you to set up a green screen in your home and read your
lines off of a computer monitor (which are typically much smaller than living
room TVs). The console version does away with the green screen and the bigger
screen makes it much easier to read the script.
“I thought the approach on the PC was interesting, but the
risk/reward of the sytem was difficult – and I thought it could be a barrier to
entry,” says new YooStar president and CEO Greg Fischbach. “What was so
surprising was how well it performed at retail.”
The revamped YooStar – formally called “YooStar 2” – features
the expected sandbox mode, letting people jump right in and act out scenes from
their favorite films (and upload them to social media sites), but it also
includes a career gameplay mode that rates your performance and requires you to
hit certain milestones before advancing.
Like before, the game will ship with a set number of film
clips in the box – 60 this time, versus the dreadfully skimpy 12 with the
original game. Over 400 more will be available for purchase – with that number
expanding all the time.
We ran a review of the original YooStar game here at Variety when it first shipped – and gave it fair to middling marks. The new game still has plenty of issues with ghosting and shadows (a result, perhaps, of the green screen going away), but it already shows a lot more potential. If the tech matters can be worked out, this could be one of the games that brings the existing gamer market over to Microsoft and Sony’s new motion controllers.