Genre : Simulation
Release Date: November 4, 2003
When a copy of Konami’s next big title, Karaoke Revolution for the PS2, landed in the WorthPlaying office, it was assigned to yours truly because the world knows that I am a Dance Dance Revolution freak and have no problem humiliating myself in public. To state up front, I have no singing talent at all so when I sing karaoke at parties or get-togethers I am usually booed or laughed off of the stage, but now I can karaoke all I want in the safety of my own home.
Immediately upon startup, the game asks if you have the USB microphone, which comes packaged with the SOCOM U.S. Navy Seals/Karaoke Revolution bundle, or you can purchase it separately. It is a must because you can’t play without one. Once I got to the main menu screen, I took a peek at the three available single-player modes: showtime, arcade, and karaoke.
Showtime is the single-player “story” mode, where you must travel to different venues and complete a set of songs until you become a superstar. Arcade is a three-song battle mode where you must rack up the points to earn gold or platinum ratings for each song. Karaoke mode is just classic karaoke, where you do not have to worry about a score and you can just sing your heart out, no matter how much you suck.
While the single-player modes are enjoyable, the multiplayer part of Karaoke Revolution is, without a doubt, the best part of the game. My friends and I all suck at singing so when we gather at one of their houses for a karaoke battle, it sounds like wounded dogs yelping to be put out of their misery, but it’s good fun all around. There are two multiplayer modes available: arcade mode, where you play against your friends to see who can score the most points, and karaoke competition mode, where your peers are the ones who give you a score by rating you (one star for the worst and five stars for the best).
The training and extras modes are pretty much self-explanatory. Training teaches you how to play the game and how to correctly set up the microphone so you get the best sound and make those high-pitched HOOOOOOs in Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean. Extras are where you can add more songs via expansion discs, view behind-the-scenes “making of” movies of Karaoke Revolution, as well view your highs scores for each song and difficulty level. The options menu also gives you the ability to fine-tune the audio portion of the game to give you the best results after the microphone calibration.
The game play in Karaoke Revolution is more in-depth than your standard karaoke gathering. You are not only graded on how accurately you follow the lyrics but how accurately you match the vocals. Just concentrating on following the lyrics will yield little to no points, as your pitch and tone actually have to match the song’s in order to rack up the rewards. Following the vocals is tough sometimes, especially for people who are tone deaf. There are four different difficulty ratings you can choose from: easy, medium, hard and expert. Being the greatest singer in the world that I am (not), I went straight to expert, and I haven’t seen lower scores since my days of Pole Position. You also receive a crowd rating, as you have to keep the crowd amused or they will start to leave and you will fail the song. Following in the footsteps of DDR, there are host of unlockable extras that you can acquire only if you score enough points or complete enough songs. Some of the unlockable extras are levels for you to compete on to extra hidden songs.
The graphics portion is not the game’s main focus, nor is the latest in 3D graphics technology needed to enjoy this title. The team at Harmonix and House of Moves has done a superb job of capturing the movements of the singer, band, and the crowd that one would see at any music concert. The different venues range from the singer’s apartment to a giant stadium. Each venue or level is accurately portrayed through the graphics, but don’t expect environment bump mapping or pixel shading. The character models seem to have a low polygon count, but their movement is fluid and precise. One neat feature that I noticed is that your character will not move his mouth until you start singing. There are eight singers available to you, as well as different outfits to choose from. Overall, the graphics are decent and will give you something to look at as you belt out those tunes.
The audio portion is where the game kicks major butt; Karaoke Revolution packs a ton of songs for you to master. The song list really runs the gamut with respect to the different eras and types of music: oldies, hip hop, rock, pop, and classics. Konami has covered all of the bases in the music department and has loaded up this game with some of the most popular songs and artists to date: “Are you Happy Now?” by Michelle Branch, “Addicted” by Simple Plan, and “Complicated” by Avril Lavigne. Now before you ask, no, the artists did not lend their voice talent to the songs, but the songs have all been re-mastered by other artists, and in some cases, it is quite noticeable. In the sound effect department, you have all kinds of neat echoes and voice amplification that can be added to your voice as you sing. You also have the option of hearing yourself in the microphone’s headset, but in my case I turned that off, but I could still hear myself through the game itself. Along with the voice amplification, you also have the crowd noise, and as you sing better and drive up your score, the crowd gets more and more into it, and soon they are roaring as if they were at a Britney Spears concert.
To sum it up, Karaoke Revolution gives hope to all of the rejected American Idol contestants that they can some day be a super star … yeah, right. Overall, this game is top-notch and highly enjoyable. Coupled with the multiplayer options, you and your buddies will have loads of laughs and good times for a long while. With the addition of extra bonus CDs that add more songs to the mix, the game’s replay value is quite possibly inexhaustible. Konami has done it again in unleashing a new way of fun and self embarrassment! I strongly urge all closet singers and regular gamers to pick up this title.