Release Date: March 21, 2006
Harmonix made a name - albeit not a big one - on games such as Frequency and its kid sister Amplitude. Konami is all-but-renown now for their Bemani series, containing addictive games such as Dance Dance Revolution, Beatmania, and the Japanese-exclusive Guitar Freaks. When Konami and Harmonix got together to make a game, however, it was the epitome of "chocolate in the peanut butter," an accidental match made in heaven.
That match, ladies and gentlemen, is the Karaoke Revolution series. Spanning four games on every console out there, Karaoke Revolution could well be described as a "craze," especially with the most recent Karaoke Revolution Party, which garnered high scores everywhere due to its additions to the system, its focus as more of a party title, and enormous selection of songs.
Such success leads one to wonder what Harmonix was thinking by joining up with CMT (Country Music Telelvision, America's one and only country music television station) for a country-only edition of the Revolution. The short answer probably has dollar signs in it. That's truly all Karaoke Revolution Country seems to be – a cheap marketing ploy to get the mostly untouched country-loving crowd.
That's not to say it's a bad game. On the contrary – everything you know and love about Karaoke Revolution Party is present, from the nearly bobble-headed customizable singing avatars to the forgiving-yet-brutal gameplay. However, if this is to be compared to the earlier release of Party, this version seems like a gutted fish; gone is the Song and Dance mode, the total number of songs has been stripped down from 50 to a measly 35, and, well, it's country. Country is by no means a bad genre, mind you, but that single fact alone will chase off a good many of the game players out there.
For those who are interest in the fact that it's country, the song list is all at once impressive and slightly boring. Obvious classics like "The Gambler," "9 to 5," and "Good Ol' Boys" are there, along with more contemporary country songs like "Friends in Low Places," "My Give a Damn's Busted," and "Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)." You know, looking at that brief list a second time, it's amazing how raunchy country music sounds like it's gotten over the years. This is most certainly a title deserving of the E10+ rating, if not a Teen rating.
On the plus side, unlike in earlier Karaoke Revolution games, all of the songs in KR Country sound to be sung by the original recording artists, not a single cover artist in sight. This means the sound is authentic, crisp, and once again awesome in quality. However, like its older brother Party, KR Country still has no Dolby/DTS support for those really kicking gaming rigs. Of course, those of you who play it on your family big-screen should have no problem at all, as the stereo sound is every bit as good as it is in all of the other Karaoke Revolution games.
Graphics come across as entirely the same as Karaoke Revolution Party, except instead of teen-idol outfits to wear, your avatars are presented with a variety of western gear, ranging from 10-gallon hats to ... 10-gallon hats. Unless you seriously try, pretty much everyone in this game is going to end up looking like some cowboy or another, though some more non-country stuff thankfully remains. There's just something about a spiky-haired anime boy in a bright pink sweater singing "All My Ex's Live in Texas" that just warms the heart.
The biggest problem with the title is the fact it came out almost half a year after KR Party and seems like a watered-down game. It truly does look like the game was a direct conversion, as the mechanics, unlockables, and even mini-games seem almost identical. In addition, part of Karaoke Revolution Party's appeal was that it had songs from pretty much every genre under the sun. KR Country, obviously, doesn't have this, though the country songs being sung are varied, ranging from twangy ballads to twangy upbeat songs to … twangy Garth Brooks. It does get old a lot quicker than Party's selection, especially with the more limited song selection. True, there are duets to enjoy with a partner, and the "Yo! Dude! Rock!" mini-game makes its (less-than-stellar) return, but even with that, it's easy to become bored with the game in less than a week.
Therein lies the crux of the matter – if you aren't a diehard country fan (and by diehard, that means "own every album by any male singer with the name of Tracy ever"), you're bound to get sick of the game before long. Even as a party game, KR Country doesn't have the staying power of Party, the single genre restriction being more suffocating than it would appear to be at first. If you're the type who tunes in to watch Nashville Star after American Idol is done for the night, you might want to give Karaoke Revolution Country a try. Anyone else, proceed with caution; it's hardly a bad game, but Karaoke Revolution Party's done it all before, and better.