Karaoke Revolution
Game Info
Platform(s)
Playstation 2
Publisher
Konami
Developer
Harmonix
Genre
Music/Rhythm
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Everyone
 
Grade
The Good

• Allows you to karaoke at home
• Great for parties
• Scoring system and unlockables adds some layer of gameplay

The Bad

• Graphics are pretty lame
• Must like karaoke or have some ability to sing to enjoy

 
Grade
B

Karaoke is pretty much a polarized topic - you tend to know whether you enjoy it or not. If you're a fan, you know the joys of trying to sing your favorite songs in a public setting. If you aren't a fan, images of drunken bar patrons ruining your favorite songs probably dance in your head. Konami, who has made a killing with their Dance Dance Revolution music/rhythm games, has decided to make the next obvious move. But, instead of just releasing a party-oriented karaoke machine interface disguised as a game, they've actually implemented scoring and play mechanics to give the genre some interest for those not completely enamored by the genre.

Much like any standard karaoke setup, Konami has acquired the rights to a number of recent popular hits (How You Remind Me, Complicated, Don't Know Why, All You Wanted, Are You Happy Now?, etc.) and karaoke classics (Billie Jean, Broken Wings, Celebration, Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Wind Beneath My Wings, Red, Red Wine, etc.) without getting the actual talent or original recording. This means that you'll be signing along with familiar songs being performed by complete strangers. Fortunately, the songs in the collection don't really suffer from a switch in talent, especially since you're going to be too busy using your own voice to play the game.

One might think that the standard gameplay behind Karaoke Revolution may be nonexistent, but considering this title is coming from Konami, you know that they'll find a way to allow players to rack up a score according to their performance. To be able to play the game, players must have a USB headset. If you already have a headset from, say, SOCOM or SOCOM 2, you can just buy the game on it's own. If not, you can buy a package with the headset and game. While you use the controller to navigate menus, once "in concert" you'll only need the headset and your voice.

Karaoke Revolution comes with Single Player, Multiplayer and Training Modes. Both Single Player and Multiplayer feature an Arcade mode where you sing for a score. The Showtime mode in Single Player is similar to a career mode where you perform in a series of venues. Both modes also come with a straight karaoke mode that removes the score-based element.

When it comes to scoring, the songs are broken up into small portions called Phrases. As players sing, they gain points by keeping the correct tone, pitch and timing. To know whether you're doing things write, there's a scrolling representation of how the vocals should be sung that runs along the bottom of the screen with an arrow that moves to match how the player is singing. The more you keep the arrow on the path that the vocals should sound like, the more the Phrase Meter fills. At the end of each Phrase, you get points added to your total, but if you fill the Phrase Meter before the Phrase is over, it goes towards combination points that you can earn by filling the Phrase Meter in multiple Phrases.

At the same time, you'll probably take note of the Crowd Meter, which can let you know how you're doing. If you're doing really bad, you may get the proverbial hook. At the end of each song, you'll receive a final score. Performing well will earn you Gold and Platinum Records, but will also unlock new singers, videos and even extra songs like Ladies Night, Smooth Criminal and Science Genius Girl. While there isn't one available yet, Konami makes mention of Expansion Discs to be sold later, obviously allowing for at least new songs and maybe even new venues and singers (though the singers are really only cosmetic).

Too be honest, the graphics package for this game is pretty meager. When not in menus, the player is given their selected vocalist in a concert setting, casually moving along with the music with their band performing in the periphery. The venues have a fair audience presence who spend most of their time in shadow, cheering and swaying with the music. The character models are pretty simple and don't do much to impress. Maybe if they exhibited a little more excitement, didn't lull around like wallflowers or if there was a Create-A-Singer mode, I could be remoteless interested in the graphics presentation. Luckily, you'll be too busy paying attention to your singing to care how the game looks.

Outside of the large range of songs, the audio package is pretty lightweight. Except for the handful of crowd responses, sound effects in the menu are your standard lot. But, let's be honest - much like the graphics, the sound effects aren't really necessary as you'll be more focused on carrying a tune.

If it isn't obvious by now, I must say that if you aren't a fan of karaoke, this game won't be for you. Plus, if it wasn't for the ability to unlock songs, videos and singers, the single player mode probably won't keep you entertained for too long. On the flip side, the multiplayer, especially in a party setting, is just a blast, even if you stink at singing. And, I would state that if you don't have any ability to sing, don't expect to do well when it comes to scoring. Actually having heard the songs previously and knowing the lyrics is always helpful, but you can get away with humming in the right pitch if you don't know the lyrics.

By this time, you already know whether or not you want this game. For those who want a karaoke-oriented party game, go out now and buy this. The score-based gameplay and actual event of singing in a group atmosphere more than outweighs the lackluster presentation. So, America Idol wannabes should pick this up at your first opportunity.

- - Kinderfeld

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