Tucked away in a sound-proof room in Konami's booth at E3 was Karaoke Revolution Party, which is the upcoming fourth installment in the Karaoke Revolution franchise.
When I stepped inside the room to play the game, I was surprised to discover that it isn't just a follow-up with new songs and more duets. The twin microphones sticking out of the PlayStation 2 did not come as a shock. However, the pair of dance mats sitting on the floor in front of the monitor certainly did. This new game combines singing and dancing! It's Karaoke Revolution meets Dance Dance Revolution–i.e. the American Idol knock-off we've been waiting for.
Judging from the game menu, you'll still be able to select the standard single-song, multi-song, and duet modes, where you try to sing along with the words and rack up a score by staying on-key. The most interesting mode, by far, is the new party mode, which incorporates dancing into the overall performance. In addition to the song lyrics that scroll along the bottom of the screen, indicator arrows scroll by telling you which spots on the dance mat to step on. Now, in order to turn in a star-caliber performance, you have to nail the steps in addition to the lyrics. Obviously, you'll need to hook up a dance mat to take advantage of this mode. The party mode also supports the use of a second dance mat for co-operative duets and competitions.
I noticed that the dance steps don't seem to be as intricate or speedy as those in the Dance Dance Revolution games. While that may not give players as much of a workout as they'd get from a standalone DDR game, the slower pace does afford more freedom to freestyle dance steps–which means you can actually dance during a song instead of being forced to hop like a caffeinated freak.
Otherwise, this is still very much the same Karaoke Revolution that fans have come to love. Songs are still easy to learn thanks to the scrolling lyrics and pitch-bar display, and the overall selection of songs is decent enough to appeal to a wide range of people. The final song list hasn't been nailed, but Konami is shooting for roughly 50 different tracks. Favorites like "Sweet Caroline," "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me," and "Crazy in Love" are already confirmed.
Other new features, in addition to dance-mat support, include support for the EyeToy camera (so you can watch your performances), and a new character customization system that allows you to create a character by selecting different body types, hairstyles, and accessories.
Konami is shooting for a Fall 2005 release for the game–October most likely.