I was singing along to the new Kanye West joint the other day (and eating a whole banana-cream pie at the same time), when it dawned on me what day it was. July 14, 2004. Gerald Ford's birthday? Nope. The day Karaoke Revolution Volume 2 was scheduled to come out. Faster than you can yell "fattie on the sidewalk," I was at the local GameStop tossing $40 on the counter.
Just as Volume 1 did, Karaoke Revolution Volume 2 transforms your PS2 into a versatile karaoke machine (*separate microphone required, $20).
But, this latest volume isn't just a disc full of new songs.
Even though the first game was setup to make use of so-called expansion discs, Konami chose to make this second volume a stand-alone product. It only takes a quick look through the menus to realize why. The single- and multi-player menus both include a new medley mode, the karaoke competition in multi-player has been adjusted to allow voting, and you can now enable a "partial-song" option if the "full-song" setting is too strenuous. The number of different performance venues and characters has also been expanded.
The single-player modes are listed as showtime, medley, and karaoke. In the showtime and medley modes, the game measures the pitch and timing of your performance and gives you points based upon how closely you mimic the song. The main difference between the two modes is in the way songs are presented. In the showtime mode, you pick and perform one song. In the medley mode, you pick anywhere from 3 to 5 songs, which the game chops up and seamlessly blends together into a single medley–much like the sort of thing you see performers do during the MTV Video Music Awards. The karaoke mode is purely for fun. The lyrics are shown at the bottom of the screen so that you can sing along, but the game doesn't keep track of points and it won't cut you off if you butcher the song. I'm a baritone–and a poor one at that–so I spend most of my time in this mode singing along to songs like Born to Be Wild and Hit Me Baby One More Time .
The multi-player modes are listed as arcade, medley, and karaoke competition. Arcade and medley function just like they do in single-player, except you and your homies are competing to see who can score the most points. The karaoke competition, like it's counterpart in single-player, is mostly just for kicks–but everyone gets to vote for who they thought sang the best. Speaking from personal experience, while I don't often get the chance to put the multi-player modes to use, whenever I do get the chance, the atmosphere of the room tends to get giggly and busy in a hurry. Since you really don't need to be a gamer to enjoy it, and since talent is completely optional, the game is perfectly suited for any kind of group, whether it's just a couple people, an impromptu gathering of friends, or a full-on party.
Songs included in this volume are:
The play list for this volume covers a wider array of genres than the previous volume did. No doubt many of you out there are happy to see a few country, classic rock, and southern rock songs sprinkled in among the expected batch of modern pop, 80's, and disco hits. Still no rap or hip-hop, but you have to cut Konami some slack on that one. How many rap or hip-hop songs do you know that actually have measurable changes in pitch? Once again, most songs are performed by studio musicians instead of the original artists. That's actually fairly typical of karaoke CD's.
Um… the graphics? Not so bad. Not so great. The polygon models that make up the performers, audience, and surrounding arenas are smooth and colorful. The various video screens, bubble machines, and giant balloon animals inside each venue are nice too. Plus, you really have to give the game kudos for including a character with a fat, hairy, exposed belly. Even so, the overall quality (color depth, # of polygons, sharpness, etc.) is more in line with 2001 as opposed to 2004. Isn't this stuff pretty much irrelevant though? You'll spend more time watching the lyrics and pitch scale at the bottom of the screen than you will checking out what's happening on stage.
Unless you're extremely self-conscious or prone to panic attacks, you really should go out and pick up Karaoke Revolution Volume 2. It's one of those rare "all-access" games–the kind that anyone can play and anyone can enjoy, whether alone or with a group of people.