UltraStar is a clone of SingStar, a music video game. UltraStar lets one or several players score points by singing along to a song or music video and match the pitch of the original song well. UltraStar displays lyrics as well as the correct notes similar to a piano roll. On top of the correct notes UltraStar displays the pitch recorded from the players. UltraStar allows several people to play simultaneously by connecting several microphones possibly to several sound cards. To add a song to UltraStar, a file with notes and lyrics is required, together with an audio file. Optionally a cover image, a backdrop image and a video may be added to each song.

The source code of UltraStar is released under GNU General Public License (a free software license) although the Windows and OSX binaries also include the non-free audio library BASS. There's nothing telling which files the GNU GPL applies to or what versions of the license may be used. To use UltraStar, one must link the source code together with BASS. As the GNU GPL is a strong copyleft license, linking GPL code with BASS and distributing the result is a violation of the GPL.

UltraStar comes preloaded with a short sample from Nine Inch Nails hit Discipline from The Slip album. The original UltraStar is programmed in Kylix/Delphi and made for Microsoft Windows operating-system. There are also ports available in C++ programming language for other operating-systems such as Linux, BSD and other UNIX platforms.

UltraStar Deluxe

UltraStar Deluxe was started as a modification of UltraStar. Whiteshark initially offered to collaborate with Corvus5, but this offer was declined. Instead Whiteshark started to add some features on his own with the help of Mota. The first release is known as X-Mas mod, due to a release date around Christmas time. This attracted the attention of other developers that were willing to help. The team grew and the source code departed more and more from the original. Smaller features are often implemented in both projects allowing them to benefit from one another. Though the projects' implementations of such features often differ. UltraStar Deluxe is different in three key ways from UltraStar. Significant effort has been put into improving reliability by repairing bugs. The second difference is the visual appearance. Sparkling stars and various other effects have been added in addition to skin support. Many effects are also based on the Singstar on PS3. Many new features have been implemented:

  • More video formats are supported, such as DivX, XviD, FLV, Avi and WMV.
  • Singing screen with golden notes, line bonus and popups
  • Lua scriptable Party mode with various game types. This includes support for lua plugins that allow further extension of such game types.
  • Improved song management and selection with the ability to search for songs and use playlists
  • More detailed statistics screen

UltraStar Deluxe is written in Object Pascal, and compiles with Delphi, Free Pascal Compiler and Lazarus. Ports for Linux and Mac OS X are being worked on. An early and unstable version is available as a Debian binary package from their project website.[2]

As of version 1.0.1 UltraStar Deluxe runs on Linux via Wine.[3]


Performous is an open-source rhythm/performance platform that contains singing, guitar/bass playing, drumming and dancing all in one game. The project began as rewrite of the UltraStar singing game in October 2006, using C++ and targeting Linux. Adding more elements to the game was planned for several years and in 2009 first band game features were added and published on Assembly (demo party) game development competition. A few months later work on the dance game feature began and even though it is not yet complete, the feature is already available on the development version of the game.

The project was originally known as UltraStar-NG, but the name was changed in version 0.3 in anticipation of adding other instruments and to avoid confusion as the game is not a fork of UltraStar. Also, since version 0.3 the graphics rendering is based on OpenGL for high performance even on slower machines, with full effects, as long as any OpenGL support is available. Various background video formats are supported using ffmpeg.

Singing game

This part of the game is essentially karaoke, but with scoring and realtime feedback. The gameplay is similar to SingStar: the game analyzes the pitch of each singer and scores the performance based on how precisely the song was performed. As a reference, the lyrics, the notes and the singer's pitch are displayed on screen as the song plays.

Performous does not attempt to clone SingStar but rather has unique features such as scrolling notes and precise singing pitch display as a wave drawn on screen. These allow the player to sing without interruptions and to easily correct his singing pitch to hit the notes precisely.

Performous does pitch detection with fast fourier transform (FFT) combined with a sophisticated post-processing algorithm. This system is able to operate well in extremely noisy environments, even when using very cheap microphones.

On Linux the game autodetects any connected SingStar microphones and uses them automatically. On other platforms and with other types of microphones (e.g. webcams or analog microphones connected to sound cards) a best-effort detection is done.

Songs need to be supplied in UltraStar or Frets on Fire format. Performous comes with a tool named 'ss_extract', for converting SingStar DVDs into UltraStar format.

Band game

The gameplay is similar to Guitar Hero or Rock Band: a toy guitar controller is used and the player will need to match the notes.

For guitar and bass the game tries to figure out the intention of the player rather than just comparing the nearest available chord, making it easier to play fast passages. Hammer-ons and pull-offs (HOPOs) also consider player's intention. If the player intends to pick a note in a regular fashion but happens to HOPO it by accident a moment before, the pick will undo the HOPO and no mistake happens. These little gameplay tweaks in favor of the player make the game much more enjoyable as playing correctly will no longer produce mistakes when the timing is slightly off or when the player chooses not to use the HOPO feature. Timing accuracy is still considered in the scoring so that hitting all notes does not always give the maximum score.

Performous detects any connected Guitar Hero or Rock Band controllers automatically. Additionally, a PC keyboard can be used as a guitar controller. Songs need to be in Frets on Fire format.

Dance game

The gameplay is similar to Dance Dance Revolution or StepMania: the dancer will have to match the steps displayed on screen on a dancing mat as precisely as possible. Songs need to be in StepMania format.

Assembly Summer 2009

'Performous Band', a stripped-down version of the game, containing only the band game (guitar, bass and drums) took part in the game development competition. The game was displayed with a pre-recorded presentation video, but there were significant audio-video synchronization issues with the video even though the game itself had no such issues. Due to copyright issues and the lack of freely usable songs at the time, part of the demonstration was done with the music completely muted. The game finished on the 12th place with 642 points.[7]

See also


External links

  • UltraStar - Original game created by Corvus5 (Delphi/Kylix)
  • UltraStar Deluxe - Based upon UltraStar, has more features and ports (Delphi/Kylix/FPC)
  • Performous - A game similar to UltraStar written from scratch in C++ and later expanded with band and dance features. Formerly known as UltraStar-NG (USNG).
  • UltraStar Mac OS X - Mac OS (Intel) port of UltraStar
Other software supporting the format
  • Canta Game - Python platform-independent karaoke game that can play UltraStar-files. Uses a 3D engine for output including 2D/3D themes. Includes a built-in editor.
  • kJams - Mac OS software that can play UltraStar (SingStar) files "karaoke style", and convert them to CD+G format for burning.
  • LyricsCatcher - LyricsCatcher, a fast way to create singable ultrastar songs from your mp3's (in Java)
  • Sinatra, another GNU/Linux game for the file format.
  • SongEasy - UltraStar tool and similar karaoke game

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