Reviewed: December 2, 2005
Released: November 8, 2005
Karaoke Revolution Party is the latest in Konmai’s string of karaoke-themed music games. Only this time around, Konami is pulling out all the stops and combining their very popular singing game with their even more popular dancing game, and attempting to give gamers a veritable “best of” of the player participation games.
Karaoke Revolution Party features:
By now, there’s little need to go into the gameplay of Konami’s Karaoke Revolution series – not much has changed since the early days. In fact, with respect the actual Karaoke singing portions, I would venture to say that nothing at all has changed.
What this means, is that using a USB headset or microphone, wannabe crooners can sing along with any of the fifty-plus included songs – all while being scored on pitch and duration, using Konami’s clever sound recognition software. So, instead of matching key presses or footsteps with onscreen beats like they would in Dance Dance Revolution – the gamer is trying to align an arrow on a vocal pitch meter with the pitch of the actual song, and hold that pitch for the proper amount of time. I may be making it sound a bit more difficult than it really is, but it really is a user-friendly interface.
While singing, the gamer is represented by an onscreen band of avatars that sing and play along to the songs in various bars and auditoriums. One of the neatest aspects of the Karaoke Revolution series has always been how the band and audience members uniquely and seamlessly react to the player’s performance; becoming disappointed, irritated or sad at missed notes – or showing happiness and excitement when the gamer hits all of the right cues.
However, there is one major problem that has plagued the system since day one, and something that Konami has yet to really address. You see, because the game is simply gauging your performance based upon pitch and note length and cannot actually judge the accuracy of the words being said – it is quite easy to “fool” the game by simply humming along. It is a bit lame, but it works. And for someone like myself – who doesn’t know squat about pop or new country – it does get you by fairly well. But the fact that Konami still hasn’t addressed this issue is a bit distressing.
Each year the song list gets longer and longer, and as mentioned, Karaoke Revolution Party features over fifty songs to learn and sing – ranging from the aforementioned pop and new country, to oldies, R&B, album rock, traditionals and more. There is definitely a song here for everyone, although even at fifty, there’s not enough of any one single genre to suffice choosy fans.
What Konami has added to the game is optional support for Dance Dance Revolution styled dance pads via the Song and Dance mode. Just as the name sounds, gamers will not only have to match the pitch of the songs, but also keep up with increasingly intricate dance steps. This is by far the best addition the series has seen since its inception, and really forces crooners to have their songs’ vocal tracks nailed down before diving in.
Not as exciting would be the addition of EyeToy support. While we were originally excited that the game might go the way of recent DDR or EyeToy Play! Games and allow for hand and body gaming – we quickly realized that the EyeToy support was ultimately quite lame, and only allowed for either projecting yourself onto the background screens of areas, or for Tony Hawk-styled facial mapping “cameos”.
A few new play modes come into play in Karaoke Revolution Party, injecting more of a party-styled atmosphere into the game. These modes allow for individuals or teams to go head-to-head against each other to see who has the best chops. Teams can compete in simple single-song scoring events, medley and duet competitions, and even a few horse-like games of vocal skill. The variety of gameplay options is pretty staggering, and really adds some needed fun and excitement to the game, and helps take the spotlight off the shyer partygoers.
As gamers amass their collections of silver, gold and platinum records (awarded based on score and audience reaction), they can be traded up for hidden items. Not surprising, most of these items come in the form of new outfits, new songs, or entirely new characters and venues – none of which are exciting enough to warrant the hours of self-play to achieve.
Music games do not tend to be very visually appealing – but Karaoke Revolution Party does a pretty good job of giving a cartoony-yet-believable appearance to the events. The characters are your typical over-the-top, cartoon-friendly menagerie of kooks spanning each and every racial profile you can imagine. They are rendered quite smoothly, with a minimum of sharp edges and seams about the face, and move fairly realistically – albeit a bit, er…overly emotional.
The environments look quite good, and give a fairly accurate representation of size and scale – meaning that a small bar feels like a small bar, and an auditorium feels like an auditorium.
There are some great effects on the characters as they begin to catch their groove –microphones begin to glow and shower glittery sparks as the audience’s reaction grows. Overall, it is a bit corny – but it still looks pretty cool and is a good indicator to how well you are performing.
A music-based game like Karaoke Revolution Party would be dead in the water if it did not have impeccable sound quality – and thankfully it does. Every sound comes through the speakers crystal clear – whether it is your properly reverbed-and-chorused vocals, the well produced background music, or the cheers and jeers of the rabid crowd.
The fifty-odd songs might not be officially licensed fare, but they are all pretty good knockoffs of the real songs. We were especially ecstatic to find rockin’ tunes like Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock and Roll” and perennial favorite Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline”, but as expected the biggest bulk of the songs are your standard contemporary radio fare.
Karaoke Revolution Party features fifty new songs, a whole new Song and Dance mode, and some secondary EyeToy support to let you be a part of the action. The question is – is that kind of stuff important to you? For me, well – outside of normal review duties, I’m not much of a dance pad fella. I do like karaoke, but really only like maybe ten percent of the songs included. So for me, the overall value is quite low. But for dance fans and pop music lovers, the game is probably priceless – especially those who have been fiending for more songs since the last Karaoke Revolution release.
I will just say that for what Karaoke Revolution Party does, it does very well. The game is technically sound, features top-shelf visuals and sound, and is very easy for beginners to pick up and play – which makes it a great addition to any party.
Despite the ability to hum through songs, Karaoke Revolution Party does do a knockdown job of bringing the stage into the living room, and giving gamers of every kind something to smile about. Most of it has been done before, but there are enough new additions to warrant a purchase by fans of the genre.
All in all, Karaoke Revolution Party is a dish best served up with a bunch of friends, a case of beer and a lack of inhibitions.