Karaoke is an odd activity. From an outsider’s view, it looks awkward, embarrassing, and degrading. Yet, for some reason, it’s loads of fun to cut loose and croon like a madman to popular and corny songs.
Karaoke Revolution, created by Harmonix makers of Amplitude and Frequency and published by Konami makers of the immensely popular Dance Dance Revolution, is truly unique in its presentation and play style. Yes, as the title might have you believe, you sing.
The game comes packaged with a headset and game disc that contains the songs. It’s a simple process to set up: just put the game in and plug the headset into the back of the Playstation 2. In no time, you’re ready to rock.
The song selection is eclectic. Mandatory classics like “Celebrate” and “Like a Virgin” are dutifully accompany some more obscure favorites .
I whooped in joy upon finding New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle” and Huey Lewis’ “The Power of Love.” All told, there are over 35 songs, covering most tastes and genres.
The headset fits well on even my cranium, which is good because I have a melon comparable to Mr. Met. The automated mic calibration setup makes volume adjustment a breeze as well.
Using the controller, you control volume levels for the mic, earpiece and background music during a song if you find something too loud or soft.
Once the game starts rolling, the technical aspect is easy to grasp. A bar scrolls from right to left on the screen, with lines showing what tone you should sing.
The game is dead-on at picking out tone, but interestingly enough, it doesn’t recognize words. The player can hum and do just as well, but it’s not nearly as fun that way.
As the player sings, an arrow shows where the tone is relative to where it should be. If the tone is on, a bar fills right above the music. At the end of the measure, a judgment is given based on how full the bar is. Too many bad judgments and the audience will leave, reducing the singing avatar on screen to a crying wreck.
Graphics are nothing special, but they don’t really need to be. On screen a comically deformed character sings while plain-looking audience members clap along.
The lyrics and note indicators are bright and easy to see, which is about all this game needs in that department.
Just about the only letdown for me was the challenge. When I first started playing, I expected to do terribly and eventually work my way up to the hardest songs. I expected to become a better singer by playing through the game.
Yet, with a bit of familiarization and practice, I had little problem going through the hardest songs. This is probably a good thing because new players don’t want to be intimidated, but it was a little underwhelming for me.
What emerges is a game that anyone can play. Whether your next get together involves a houseful of accomplished singers or tone-deaf baritones confined to shower repertoires, Karaoke Revolutions will have them all in stitches.
While you can sing alone, playing the game with a group of friends or at a party is a truly entertaining experience.