Karaoke Revolution
Reviewed by Brandy Shaul
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2010-01-08 Xbox 360 Music/Rhythm T (Teen) Blitz Games / Konami

Karaoke Revolution may have been near the top of the music and rhythm game space at one point in time, but after the Rock Band phenomena took hold, it fell into the giant's shadow. Yet, the franchise hasn't been abandoned, as is proven by Konami's latest installment, titled simply Karaoke Revolution (no more of that silly American Idol business).

The game's career mode places you straightaway into the role of upcoming musician, with a list of pre-assembled characters being offered for your choosing. Conversely, you can fiddle with the game's complex character editor and create your own likeness - or at least try; the game's characters continue to look a bit alien no matter how many times you tweak their eyes or hair.

Afterwards, you're taken to the first of three albums, the center of which marks your first event. After completing it, the record grows horizontally, adding more pieces like a jigsaw puzzle. In this way, the game offers a bit of freedom, as you get to choose the order in which you tackle events.

There are two basic types of events: those that assign a song for you to sing, and those that allow you to choose. Complicating matters are events that allow you to choose a song so long as it is of a certain genre, and gig events that have you singing medleys, full sets of three or five songs and so on, with genre limitations showing up in these as well.

As for the songs themselves, Karaoke Revolution sports a fairly odd mix of 50 past and present hits (luckily, these are the master tracks, and not the horrible covers found in past titles). Songs like Lady Gaga's Just Dance, Kelly Clarkson's My Life Would Suck Without You, and Katy Perry's I Kissed A Girl are the most expected inclusions, while the addition of Daughtry, Incubus and the All-American Rejects gives the rock fans something to play as well. Not to say that the genres are evenly represented - they're definitely not, as there is a strong showing of head-scratching oldies tracks here (four from the Jackson 5 alone), and very few from say, the country side of the spectrum.

Regardless, each event has a score that must be earned in order to move on, as well as a difficulty you must be singing at in order for the score to count in the first place, but the game is so forgiving that the only way you'd ever find yourself in a failing situation would be if you weren't singing at all. To put it into perspective, I was singing, on expert, songs that I had never heard before, and was passing them with 80-90% accuracy or more.

And so the gameplay goes: you sing a song or group of songs, unlock another tier of events, and repeat the process until you have unlocked the second and third albums, which differ mostly in the score and difficulty level required to pass.

Outside of the career mode are the expected quick play options, and options for multiplayer, if you can actually find someone to play the game with (I never could). You can also spend your time with the game's venue editor, which, like the character creator, allows you to select from a load of goodies to customize your very own venue, complete with lighting, video screens, props, themed backdrops and more, and by running through career mode, you unlock even more of these options.

Graphically, the title looks like something from the last generation of consoles, with awkward, overly redundant character animations laid over fairly basic backdrops. Specific venue customization options, like falling confetti or light shows, do help the look of the title, but the game's own attempts at creativity, like the transition to a sepia tone color palette on specific songs, for instance, are more of a distraction than a welcome addition.

At the end of the day, while the large venue and character editors are appreciated inclusions, as with all karaoke games, one's enjoyment here will ultimately rely on what they think of the song list. Personally, the list is pretty hit or miss, and really isn't worth the $50 price tag; however, for those who are into the Jackson 5 and other oldies artists, the opposite may very well hold true. Still, with the game's quality being mostly subjective, this is one best left as a rental, until you can decide if the song list is worth it.

Special thanks to Konami for providing a copy of this title.