Stage & screen

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Family game night will take on a very different feel if Microsoft has its way.

Along with recent changes made to "cute up" its Xbox 360 - adding Wii-like avatars and pumping up game sharing with Xbox online parties - it seems Microsoft is trying to appeal to the family-oriented gamers that have so passionately embraced Nintendo's Wii.

You're in the Movies and Lips are two games built with this casual audience in mind, and they both rely on new peripherals to encourage game play.

One comes with an Xbox Vision camera - an add-on with far too many creepy uses before now - and the other includes two tricked-out wireless microphones that glow and flicker in time with the music.

These peripherals alone might not inspire any purchases, but paired with the games they could provide at least a few hours of enjoyment before they start gathering dust.

You're in the Movies allows players to act out some simple slapstick routines against a virtual green-screen. The game has a few themes and there are some fun exercises, but it's not as compelling as earlier attempts at the same concept (such as with Sony's PlayStation EyeToy).

Plus, technical obstacles make You're in the Movies a bit hard to use. The camera tracks players' actions accurately enough as long as it's used in an optimal setting, which you're not likely to find in most homes. Players should be brightly lit and in front of a light, solid-colored background - not in an open room full of furniture and guests.

Lips is yet another karaoke game. Depending on your personal tastes, it might be a good choice; in a market crowded with Rock Band, Guitar Hero and American Idol games, it probably comes down to which title's included songs you like most.

The wireless microphones are nice additions, but currently they only work with Lips. The makers of Rock Band are promising an update so they'll work with that game as well.

Lips' other new feature allows players to sing along to any song in their MP3 libraries. Unfortunately, though, there's no karaoke support for such tracks, so you'd have to memorize the words or print out your own lyrics.

You're in the Movies and Lips are not bad additions to the party-game genre. They allow players to share a fairly shallow multiplayer experience with friends and family, but they are by no means must-have titles for gamers.

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"You're in the Movies" & "Lips"

System: Xbox 360

Price: $60 each

Players: 1 or 2 (up to 4)

Rated: T for Teen

Who Should Buy It? Mini-moguls and caroling crooners

GameOn! Grade: C