Like most people, I like to sing-along with the songs that I hear on the radio. Sometimes, I think it'd be fun to go rock out at a karaoke bar. Problem is, my singing voice resembles the sound a dog makes when you step on its paw. If I unleash that kind of war song out in public, I may have a chair thrown at me or get attacked by a pack of angry mutts.
Konami's Karaoke Revolution for the PlayStation 2 is the answer. For roughly $50 (the cost of the game and a compatible microphone), you can transform your PS2 into a karaoke machine. Talent is optional. And don't be surprised if parties break out when you invite friends over.
Play modes include arcade, showtime, karaoke, and training.
The karaoke mode is for those of us that are tone-deaf. The lyrics are shown on the screen so that you can sing along to the song, but the game doesn't keep track of points and it won't cut you off if you totally mangle the song. Personally, I spend most of my time in this mode singing along to REM's It's the End of the World as We Know It or Eagle Eye Cherry's Save Tonight .
The arcade and showtime modes are for people with at least a hint of singing talent. Here, the game rewards you with points for keeping up with the pitch and timing of the song. Points are tallied up at the end of the song and gold and platinum records are rewarded for reaching certain point levels. The main difference between the two modes is that the arcade mode lets you pick the songs while the showtime mode picks them for you. Both modes can be played solo or you can setup an American Idol style tournament with up to 8 human players.
Pitch and timing are represented by an array of colored tubes situated on a scale that sits above the lyrics. The height of each tube indicates the pitch you're supposed to match. The length of each tube indicates how long you need to hold the note. A bright dot near the left of the screen indicates the pitch that you're actually producing. The dot moves up and down in response to your voice. So, the basic idea is to sing so that the dot consistently passes through the tubes as they move off to the left. The longer you keep the dot in the tubes, the more points you'll earn.
The game does have one very big, very dark secret–it's only programmed to measure the pitch of your voice. It can't tell if you're singing the proper lyrics or not. For instance, singing "paper slave, sure shelf, woor soor iss oh nees, lissen guinea pig" during It's the End of the World as We Know It is just as good as singing "save yourself, serve yourself, world serves its own needs, listen to your heart bleed." The inability to check lyrics doesn't diminish the karaoke aspect at all, but it does make it possible to cheat your way to gold and platinum records in the score-based modes.
Songs included in Karaoke Revolution are:
As you can see, the play list has a good variety of pop, rock, and disco tracks taken from the 70's, 80's, 90's, and today. It's a shame that there aren't any country, hip-hop, or rap tracks–but hey, there's always hope that the next volume will fill in the gaps. Some people will be annoyed to discover that many of the songs are performed by studio musicians instead of the original artists. Whether that's important or not is something for you to decide (frankly, it didn't bug me). The option menu allows you to adjust the volume level of the background music, lyrics, and audience responses.
Obviously, the game doesn't push the PS2 to new heights graphically, but that likely won't factor into whether or not you make the purchase. The large polygon-based singers and audience members do a good job of swaying along and clapping to the music. The various arenas and dance halls are fairly boxy, but there's a great deal to see–such as video screens, fireworks, amusement park rides, and so on. No matter what the game looks like, you'll spend most of your time following the lyrics ( large print–yay! ) and pitch indicators at the bottom of the screen.
Karaoke Revolution is two products in one: 1) a music game where up to 8 players can take turns trying to out-croon each other, and 2) a basic karaoke machine that lets you sing along with 36 different pop hits. If you can't stop yourself from singing with the radio, you gotta pick this one up.