Oh, Harmonix, how you have divided the IGN office so. On one side, we have the devotees to your mega-smash game, Guitar Hero, faithful rockers and videogame editors that smash their heads to White Zombie's "Thunderkiss '65" and Black Sabbath's "Iron Man." On the other side, we have two editors playing your latest sing-along effort, Karaoke Revolution Party, swaying their hips and crooning a duet of Dean Martin's 1953 classic, "That's Amore."
Guess who wins?
While not as kick-ass, smash-your-guitar-to-bits, stage-diving cool as Guitar Hero is in the music videogame genre, Karaoke Revolution Party holds its own as the greatest karaoke game on the market, despite the legions of hissing editors in the office that don't appreciate the suave vocal talents of yours truly. The bottom line? You will make a complete fool of yourself and have a boatload of fun while doing so... if you don't get kicked out of your office holiday party first.
Harmonix left the core gameplay of the Karaoke Revolution series intact, which is to say that you still sing along with a diverse list of songs while being judged on vocal accuracy. The microphone system isn't yet able to judge if you sing the lyrics accurately or even if you look overly goofy trying, but instead measures your vocal pitch. If you really wanted to, you could hum your way through "You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman" to a platinum record, but that wouldn't be any fun at all. You can select easy, normal or difficult judging modes, so the tone meter will be much more forgiving if you happen to be Michael Bolton.
The game features more than 50 titles from a very diverse group of artists, including Lenny Kravitz, Michelle Branch, Madonna, Aerosmith, the Rolling Stones, Beyonce, Men at Work, AND MANY MORE! There's a nice mix of easy-listening, '80s music and contemporary stuff. Notably absent are the heavier rock songs from Guitar Hero and any real hip-hop tracks. Speaking of hip-hop, you have to wonder when Harmonix will develop Gangsta Rap Revolution or some kind of DJ game, based on the success of Karaoke Revolution and Guitar Hero. Only then will Harmonix's domination of the music game genre be complete.
Unlike Guitar Hero, most of the songs are already unlocked in Karaoke Revolution Party, and you can jump in right away and sing to your heart's content. This also means that there is no career mode of any kind, which is a notable absence, but not really a big deal since this game is best played with friends - preferably deaf ones. There are a few unlockable tracks - "Brick House" for instance - that are obtained by getting high scores and platinum records. Other unlockables include different outfits, like an eloquent gown when you hit the high notes in "I Will Always Love You" or a mascot suit when you knock 'em dead in "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic."
The unlocked outfits are worn by the now-standard cartoon-like characters found in music games these days. You can choose a character or create your own and dress them from grungy to classy. They sing along and typically display some great dancing talents as well. Their reactions to your bad performances are especially comical as they shake their heads in disgust when your poor rendition of "Play That Funky Music" drives the crowd from the building. A nice touch on the PS2 version is that you can use the EyeToy to make a 3D-model of your ugly mug and see it on stage.
You can also partake in a variety of multiplayer, or "party modes," if you will. You can do duets or medleys, compete for the high score on a song against a friend, or friends. If you are feeling really crazy, you can plug in the Dance Dance Revolution dance pad and try the new Sing and Dance mode, which is the single most difficult feat in all of gaming. It's hard enough to sing the lyrics on time, let alone jump around on a dance pad at the same time. Typically, your pitch will falter as you jump, if you managed to read the song lyrics AND the dance steps correctly, a definite workout on the eyes. Thankfully, you can turn the difficulty down on the dance mode, which still proves a tall order as reading the dance steps and lyrics at the same time is just too dang tough. Just ask Ashlee Simpson.
While 50 songs are included, there are probably only six or seven from your favorite genre of music that you will really love singing. The Xbox version has more than 100 songs available to download via Xbox Live for a price, which definitely adds to the replay value. The PS2 version, while still fun, is just a little shallow in comparison.
Karaoke Revolution Party also includes a few mini-games that you will have no problem quitting after 30 seconds of play, including a Pong-like volleyball game in which the pitch of your voice moves your volleyball player around so it can bump the ball back to the other side of the net. Simply put, without lyrics, these mini-games are without fun.
©2005, IGN Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved