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Xbox Review - 'Karaoke Revolution'

by Nathan Mourfield on Dec. 19, 2004 @ 2:05 a.m. PST

Karaoke Revolution features a number of exciting single and multi-player modes that support up to eight other aspiring pop stars. Showtime Mode lets players climb from the clubs to the ultimate arena, while Arcade Mode and Karaoke Mode let you sing and compete alone or with friends. In addition, downloadable song packs, several customizable characters and multiple venues make it even more fun to step up to the mic!

Genre: Music
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Release Date: November 9, 2004


Karaoke Revolution for the Xbox is one of those strange games that defy classification in a genre. Fifty songs, including 10 hits from Motown, plus many more for downloading from Xbox Live, make for hours of fun with friends around the television. It is one of those titles that make people wonder, "I could have thought of that," but Konami, the kings of innovation, beat you to it.

The concept of Karaoke Revolution is simple; the player sings songs in comparison to the track. The player sings one song at each of the eight stages, keeping an eye on the crowd meter to make sure it never goes into the red. This is accomplished by matching the pitch of the singer, with the capability of singing the note one octave up or down, but not the words. It is actually possible to pass a song singing “La Da Dee Da Da” as long as the pitch is matched. However, sticking the mike to the speaker is not a good way of passing a song, as my attempt at this failed miserably.

The songs cover everything from modern hits to the classics of Motown. The selection is nice, and the additions of the titles from Xbox Live content download extend the selection by about 20 to 30 more songs, for a cost, of course. The songs range from the amazingly easy to the significantly hard. The hardest is I’ve Got You Under My Skin, by a long shot. It is a 1930’s show tune with complicated inflection and phrasing.

The showtime mode of the title is eight different venues with a choice of songs for each one. The player chooses one, and if the song is well sung, then the player moves to the next venue and unlocks the current venue for the other modes. In addition, significant scores can unlock songs or outfits for the singers, thus encouraging players to keep trying in order to improve.

The arcade mode focuses on the player completing three to five songs, with later songs being limited to more difficult songs. This mode is just about the player singing, with the player having the whole song list to select from. This can make for an easier time, if the player can sing some of the more difficult tunes.

Karaoke mode is analogous with a karaoke machine. The lyrics of songs are displayed on the screen and change color as they are suppose to be sung. There is no judging, but great for several friends over, just wanting to prove how bad they can sing.

Multiplayer arcade is just like the single player arcade mode, except it is playable by two to eight players. Each player takes a turn each round and sings a song. Multiplayer uses one Xbox; there is no system link or Xbox Live play. This is the more merciful version of the multiplayer section, since the game does the judging.

Multiplayer karaoke allows three to eight players singing in karaoke mode. Scoring is done by the players themselves, and they vote on the best performance. This can make for some really strange critical comments between players, and really hard feelings between friends. As long as everyone remembers it is a game, there should be no problems (but you should stick to the multiplayer arcade mode to prevent any arguments).

Due to the quirkiness of the title, there is a training mode that helps the player learn how to interact with the game. The training mode covers the interface and leads the player through some examples to assist them get familiar with Karaoke Revolution. The tutorial works through helping the player with getting used to singing to the title by repeating the same bar, or section, over and over again. Karaoke Revolution luckily does not drive this into the ground, and the female voice is pleasant in her generic, immaculate English.

There is an implementation of Xbox Live with Karaoke Revolution, but no multiplayer play. The game is Xbox Live aware and has content download. At first, I was disappointed with no online play, but after some consideration, I realized that this would just be asking for trouble. The sound would have a chance to break up and be choppy, and besides that, the real fun is watching someone sing.

This title looks amazing in high definition, with an anime-ish look to all of the characters, big eyes and all. The backgrounds look good and are very busy, but not so much as to take away from the person trying to sing. It allows for everyone else to have something mildly entertaining to look at while waiting their turn. The crowd in the game is very generic, but what crowd is not generic for a music artist? If the player does well, the game adds some amazing special effect to the game.

The audio is what this title hinges on. The game, like any decent Xbox title, implements Dolby Digital, yet, Karaoke Revolution separates the music, artist’s vocals, and player’s vocals into separate channels. This allows for each to have their volume lowered or raised as dictated by the player, and all of this is easily adjusted via the Xbox controller during gameplay. Karaoke Revolution uses either the microphone it comes with or any other microphone/headset that works with the Xbox.

Replayability abounds in Karaoke Revolution since this is essentially a party game. The content download adds even more replayability to the title, with the increase in sounds. Offline, unlockable songs add even more to the title so if a person really liked the game, he or she could play it for years. No matter what, this makes for hours of fun with friends, especially if drinks are involved.

Karaoke Revolution is a wonderful title that cannot be pigeon-holed into a standard genre. Konami, as always, has a unique hit that they have brought to the Xbox with an intelligent look into how to implement Xbox’s particular strengths and features in a quirky concept that makes a great party game for friends. As a single player game, it can be a really fun few hours or a really rude awakening, depending on the skill of the player. It is a technically amazing piece of software, with no issues with errors or bugs with the coding. I would recommend this for anyone who loves singing or someone who has non-gamer friends that come by from time to time.

Score: 8.5/10

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