Reviewed: December 23, 2003
Released: November 11, 2003
Love it or hate it, Karaoke has carved itself an enduring niche in American pop culture. Konami, the masters of musical gaming, have seen fit to bring the Karaoke bar experience to your PS2. Karaoke Revolution is one of the best party games to hit the market in some time, and instead of getting wasted and embarrassing yourself in public you can get some friends together and embarrass yourself in front of them when “Wind Beneath My Wings” comes up for your next song.
Boasting better than 30 tracks, multiple gameplay modes, and a nifty Logitech USB headset microphone (game also available without mic), Karaoke Revolution is probably the most engaging music/rhythm title on the market.
Karaoke Revolution is quite simply a blast if you have even the slightest interest in singing and/or making fun of your friends. People who don’t like, or have a pathological hatred of Karaoke are unlikely to be converted by this title.
That said, the game has songs that cater to just about every musical taste, everything from old Michael Jackson and R.E.M. tunes to more recent stuff like Alien Ant Farm and Simple Plan.
The game does have a few single player modes and they are slightly interesting and if you want access to all the tracks you’ll probably want to invest some time by yourself, but multiplayer is where the action is at in Karaoke Revolution. With up to eight players taking turns on the microphone and voting on each others performances, this game makes an awesome addition to just about any party. You know a game is a hit when the cops show up (true story).
A typical session starts with selecting a play mode. Arcade and Showtime modes feature computer scoring while Karaoke Competition allows for players to score each other. Then you get to select from a group of toxically cute characters, and you can unlock more avatars and outfits as you play. If there is one thing this title is missing, it’s a create-a-singer feature.
Once you either pick or are assigned a song, the fun begins, the lyrics scroll across the bottom of the screen and are positioned at varying height on the y-axis to indicate the pitch that each word should be at as you sing. There is a pitch indicator at the left of the screen to show you where you are at relative to where you need to be; the closer you are to perfect pitch the more points you score.
It sounds complicated and takes a little practice, but once you get the flow, it’s a blast and if you stick to the indicated pitches for extended periods of time you can rack up combos. The pitch that you sing at is actually more important than nailing every word of a song, if you kind of mumble in the proper key you can sort of squeak by, but I would refrain form trying that in multiplayer.
Aside from the very well designed pitch indication system, Karaoke Revolution’s graphics are pretty vanilla. The various stages are interesting to look at the first few times, and the singers are well animated even if they do lack a lot of variety in their movements. The thing is that the graphics are really of very limited importance in a title like this so what’s there is more than adequate.
Like most Karaoke products, the music in Karaoke Revolution is preformed by musicians other than the original artists not that you can really tell except for a few instances. The audio quality is above average and having the earphone monitor on your headset is a great feature for giving you feedback as to exactly how ridiculous you sound performing “When a Man Loves a Woman.” The audience sound effects are a great addition that allows you to concentrate on nailing the notes rather than having to keep an eye on the Crowd Meter.
This is a tough one, if you don’t already have a USB headset for your PS2, you can get one bundled with the game for $60. It’s a little pricey, but like I said the game is a blast, with a ton of stuff to unlock including additional tracks, avatars and behind the scenes videos. If you already have a headset you can pickup Karaoke Revolution for $40. Also it seems that Konami has expansion disks planed to expand the song selection so it looks like you won’t be stuck with just the 35 or so tracks that are on the game disk.
Karaoke Revolution is one of my favorite party games ever, with the 8-player support and the promise of more songs on the way, well in a word, Yay! The single player mode is not that compelling for anything other than unlocking stuff and the visuals are a little bland but as I said, that is of secondary importance. With this game, Konami has displayed once again that they are the kings of rhythm gaming.