Developer: Tanla
Price: FREE
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★½☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★½☆☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

As one of “those people” who has absolutely zero musical talent and knows it quite well, I tend to avoid situations that require singing. More than once I’ve had to turn away a disappointed coworker when asked to join them in some Karaoke. It was better for everyone that way, believe me. However, while I shy away from singing I don’t have an issue with humming. It’s the sort of situation HumStar Free was made for. Kind of.

In essence, HumStar Free is Draw Something (and other games like it), only with humming pop songs instead of crudely drawing stick figures. Players set up a game, then take turns selecting songs from a track list, humming a little ditty, then sending their sample to the other player and hoping they can figure out what the song title is. Songs are categorized into Easy, Medium, and Hard, with tougher tunes yielding more coins (needed for hints or shuffling track lists) and less assistance.

HumStar Free has a solid concept behind it. It’s like singing, only it’s not. It offers turn-based multiplayer. It supports random games or games with friends via Facebook or email contacts. And it offers a sizeable selection of songs. Depending on the difficulty selected it even gives both players the chance to listen to a sample of the chosen music in addition to the humming to make figuring it all out easier. But. There’s always a but.

The track list, while extensive, isn’t 100% licensed music. This means that the song listings don’t always provide all the information necessary to figure out what the song actually is. It’s not a huge problem for more immediately notable titles but for slightly more cult classic tunes not having the artist listed tosses a big, unyielding wrench in the works. Seeing a list of three totally unidentifiable songs wouldn’t even be so bad if the songs could be previewed before selection, but they can’t. So I’d often pick a song I thought I knew, only to realize I had no idea what it was once the clip played. I’m sorry, I’m just not a huge Ke$ha fan, so don’t blame me when I have no idea how to properly hum Tik Tok. Having the humming drowned out by the background music that’s intended to act as a hint system doesn’t make things any easier. It just sort of makes noise. Lots and lots of unpleasant noise.

This is not to say that HumStar Free is a waste of time. Far from it for music fans who enjoy playing “Guess the Song” style games with their pals. I just think it needs a fair amount of adjusting before it’s ready for super-stardom.

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