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Games let players get their groove on

My friend Sarah Jane Woodall is a karaoke queen who wants to learn how to DJ. So I invited her to my Game Dork Labs to test new karaoke and DJ games.

Sarah Jane doesn’t own a game system. Therefore, I had to plug everything in and point out which buttons to press.

Once she got going, Sarah Jane pushed through the learning curve of each game and had fun.

In “Glee,” you choose from any of 30 songs, then a music video from the TV show pops up, plus lyrics. You sing. The game judges whether you stay in key or pitch.

“This is introducing songs to kids they’d never know, like ‘Proud Mary’ and ‘I Say A Little Prayer,’ ” Sarah Jane said.

But as an adult, she wasn’t keen on the “G”-rated version of “Gold Digger.”

We agreed “Glee” deserved a rating of two out of four stars.

“It’s something a ‘Glee’ fan would want to play but not a karaoke fan, because you have to know the ‘Glee’ arrangements,” she said.

We both had more fun with “SingStar: Dance.” It also judges whether you stay in key or pitch. But “Dance” gives you the original videos and arrangements of 30 songs, such as Pitbull’s “I Know You Want Me” and La Roux’s “Bulletproof.”

Sarah Jane’s four-star judgment: “People who are really into karaoke will be into this. The graphics are less cheesy, because it’s actual video of the star.”

“Dance” also is compatible with Sony’s Wii-esque Move add-on, so it can judge your dancing, too.

The problem with SingStar is the same with every karaoke game. There aren’t enough songs. You can download more tunes for $1.50 each. That seems pricey.

And finally, Sarah Jane spent 30 minutes playing the tutorial for “DJ Hero 2.” There is a lot to learn — three “Guitar Hero”-esque buttons, a turntable for scratching, an effects knob, a crossfade slider and a bonus-points button.

“This is so hard!” she said at first.

But then, she played the game for a while, got the hang of it, and absolutely loved it. Her advice with “DJ Hero 2”:

“Don’t be intimidated by the directions. Watch it and pay attention as much as you can. Dive out (of the tutorial) when you want. And play at the beginner level.”

“This game rocks!” she said, then vowed again to get her own, real DJ equipment. What’s a bigger compliment for a DJ game than that?

(“DJ Hero 2” with turntable, by Activision, retails for $100; the game without a turntable retails for $60; for Xbox 360, PS 3 and Wii — Plays fun, but complicated at first; looks good enough; challenging to very challenging; rated “T” for lyrics and mild suggestive themes. Four out of four stars.)

(“Karaoke Revolution: Glee” with microphone by Konami retails for $60 for Wii — Plays fun but limited largely to “Glee” fans; looks good; easy; rated “E 10+” for lyrics and suggestive themes. Two stars.)

(“SingStar: Dance Party Pack” with two microphones by Sony retails for $45 for PS 3 — Plays quite fun, but limited by just 30 songs; looks great; easy; rated “T” for drug reference, lyrics and sexual themes. Four stars.)

Contact Doug Elfman at delfman@reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.

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