Karaoke Revolution – XB – Review

Strange things happen when
you enter the world of video games.  "One Week" has been one of my favorite
songs since its 1998 release.  "Complicated" has been one of those "get out of
my head, now!" songs since its 2002 release.  On a compilation CD they’d mean
nothing together.  In Karaoke Revolution their purpose together is clear. 
Great music isn’t necessarily necessary when you become the vocalist.  The
songbird.  The rockstar.  All that’s necessary is your ability to become
vocalist, the songbird, the rockstar.

Karaoke Revolution is the
game that replaces controllers with microphones, high punches with high notes,
and interactive levels with interactive music.  Steven Tyler-quality vocals
aren’t necessary, but you will need to at least attempt to sing each song.
 Screaming proves to be a mistake every time, though you will find a few odd
instances where rambling to the tone of the song (but not actually singing the
words) is the easiest way to victory.

Many of you have likely
become addicted to one or more of Konami’s previous music games (Guitar
Freaks, Dance Dance Revolution, etc.).  That same addictive formula – which
includes original gameplay and an accurate scoring system – has been applied
to Karaoke Revolution, making it Konami’s greatest music accomplishment to

Don’t think you’re strong.  Don’t you dare. 

Here’s how it works: as
the song plays and lyrics are sung, small bars (called Note Tubes) scroll from
right to left.  Song lyrics are conveniently placed and evenly spaced
underneath each Note Tube, indicating how a song should be sung.  Knowing
exactly when to start hitting the notes is not easy.  The Now Bar (the thin
white bar on the bottom left corner of the screen) acts as your guide just as
the arrow bars do in Dance Dance Revolution.  It’s more important to get a
feel for the song and understand where it’s going than it is to follow what’s
happening on screen.

This can create some
confusing conflicts, especially when you find yourself trying to hit a higher
note than the song actually hits.  None of the modern-day songs are performed
by their original artists.  The covers are decent, but lack the vocal power
and precision of the real thing.  You might be used to the original version of
the song and try to sing it like you know it, then find you have to adjust
your vocals a bit to match the game’s differences.

Of course, if you’re good
enough to sing the original, you’re good enough to adapt to the game.

Player performance
receives ongoing feedback via the Phrase Meter (the long bar that sits above
the Note Tubes) and the Crowd Meter (the multi-colored half-circle).  Hit the
notes accordingly and you’ll receive Good and Great ratings.  Hit them poorly
(your voice is shaky, your vocals aren’t high enough, you screwed up a lyric,
etc.) and you’ll get an Okay, Poor or Lousy rating.  This affects your overall
score, which in the end determines whether or not you’ve completed the song
and can move onto the next.

The Crowd Meter is based
on the crowd’s excitement level.  Once again you’ll be rewarded for performing
well, only this time you’re expected to do it consistently (how would you like
it if you went to a Barenaked Ladies concert and Ed Robertson fumbled a few of
his own words?).  If the Crowd Meter peaks, keep up the pace to double your
points.  A 2X multiplier is rewarded every time you maximize the Crowd Meter
level.  One mistake and the multiplier goes away. 

Sing it like a Polaroid picture. 

What if you suck?  What
if you couldn’t sing if your life depended on it?  Never fear.  This isn’t
Humiliation Revolution, it’s Karaoke Revolution.  Your friends will laugh
regardless of your performance.  The game, however, will only "boo" if you set
the standards too high.  The difficulty can be weakened to the point where
almost any performance is acceptable, so long as you sing the song and save
the screaming for late nights with Halo 2.  "Dirty @%@$! scoundrel, you @$%!!
my Warthog!"  There’s a time and place for everything, gamers.

Fearing that that
wouldn’t be good enough for those who are persistently apprehensive (come ‘on
Aunt Edna, just one song!), Konami included a Sound Check mode that lets you
test the song before venturing on stage in front of a non-live polygonal
audience.  Practice Mode lets you further perfect your vocal skills, and gives
you another excuse to bail if you’re not impressed with your own performance
(Aunt Edna: "Oh you kids have fun playing.  I’ll go in the kitchen and bake
some cookies.").  At least your taste buds will be satisfied.

Maybe you can convince
Grandpa to play?  ("Grandpa’s busy sitting in his chair!  Call me when
dinner’s ready.")  Then again, maybe not.

Scoring Details

for Karaoke Revolution

Gameplay: 8
Not much
gameplay, per se.  More like vocal play.  Or throat-action.  Wait, I’ve got it
– the world’s first button-less game!  (Actually you do need buttons to pass
through the menus.  But maybe in a future edition…)

Despite not being a true
"game," Karaoke Revolution creates one of best experiences you can have on
Xbox when not playing Halo 2.  The challenge is high but reachable.  The vocal
measuring system is brilliant.  And the songs are unusually catchy.  You might
think you hate a song, but try performing it a few times and watch what
happens.  Complicated addictions could be everything you want,
whether you wake up with the urge to play every morning or lose
yourself in the game for one week.

(That was my attempt at
cramming four of the game’s song titles into one sentence.  Did it work?)

Graphics: 7.5
A surprising
amount of detail from a game that shouldn’t be so visually distracting.

Sound: 8.5
There’s nothing
like hearing the sound of your own voice in a video game.

Difficulty: Medium
Whether you’re a
top-tier vocalist leading the school choir, or a 60-year-old granddaddy with a
scratchy voice, Karaoke Revolution is a seriously challenging game.  Low-level
difficulty settings make it accessible to singers of any skill level.

Concept: 7
Last year’s game
re-packaged for Xbox + 10 new Motown classics performed by the original

Multiplayer: 9
There is no other
game available with as much universal appeal as Karaoke Revolution.  Kids,
adults, men, women – it doesn’t matter who you are or what you like.  We all
love music.  We all love to sing.  This game combines the best of both
worlds.  Even your dog can get in on the action!  Our four-legged friends
might not be able to keep up R.E.M.’s "It’s The End Of The World As We Know
It," but that’s why they included "Waiting For Tonight."


Overall: 8.5

Guy Gamer:
"I’m going over to Pete’s house to play some Halo 2."

"Ugh, is that all you EVER do!?"

Guy Gamer:
"Uhh, actually no, it isn’t.  We play Dead or Alive occasionally.  And
sometimes we go back to the original Halo to relive some old memories."


Guy Gamer:
"Honey, don’t give me the cold shoulder.  You know it makes my thumbs cramp


Guy Gamer:
"Why don’t you come with me?"

"I HATE video games!  The only thing I hate more than playing them is watching
YOU play them!"

I’d continue the story,
but as you can see it’s going to be a while before she listens to what Guy
Gamer has to say.  Little does she know that Guy is packing Karaoke
Revolution, the best and most universally appealing multiplayer game that
isn’t Halo 2.  Not even an angry girlfriend will be able to keep her hands (er…voice)
off this one.  If she tries to resist playing it, just remind her that it’s
not really a game.  It’s an interactive test to see whether or not she could
be the next American Idol.