IGN Review of Karaoke Revolution Presents: American Idol Encore
Adding American Idol to Karaoke Revolution is an ideal "peanut butter in the chocolate" moment. Few licensed games make so much sense from the get go that the only question is about execution. But even though the original Karaoke Revolution development team, Harmonix, has been replaced by Blitz Games this combination has been pulled off with style. And with the new addition, the Karaoke Revolution has grown and evolved into a game that provides the same thrills and manages to push you to greater heights than before by making it personal. If Simon Cowell's insults don't make you want to rock a song and make him eat his words, nothing will.
The fundamentals of the world of Karaoke Revolution are all still here. The lyrics scroll right to left and are accompanied with a bar that shows where all of the notes are. An arrow shows where your current pitch is and if you're in key with good timing you'll get the points. It's as simple as getting the arrow at the right place at the right time and as difficult as getting your voice to do what you want it to. Playing the game won't make you a great singer, but it will make you a better one. Even after five other games this same method continues to be the best out there in the genre.
In addition to getting a high score on the songs there's also the trick of impressing the judges from Armerican Idol. The songs are all scored up to 50,000 points, but getting the gold record simply requires 20,000 points. In previous versions of the game a gold record would've been a good point to kick back and relax, but not anymore.
The judges are tough and Simon Cowell, true to the show, is as cruel as ever. At the end of each song, the three judges give you their verdict. Both Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson lend their voices to the game while Paula Abdul's role has been replaced by someone very similar named Laura.
This game lives and dies by just how well these judges have been recreated within the videogame and the results are surprisingly good. Instead of recording a few phrases and calling it a day, the verdicts given by the judges are truly helpful in improving your skills. Where the scoring system simply tells you how well you did overall, the judges will get more specific such as letting you know that you started out strong, but then fell apart. They'll also give pointers on pitch and timing, giving more precise feedback on how to improve rather than giving a number at the end.
Beyond just the pitch and timing, the comments will take other factors into account as well. If the song is an easy one and you blew it, they'll know and they'll be damn sure to let you know as well. But nail a difficult song and they'll be happy to sing your praises. Just keep up the good work because they'll remember what you did in future songs as well. Start to mess up songs and they'll ask you what's been going on since you were doing so much better before. The worst thing to do is to repeat a song and do it worse than before. That is the true American Idol sin and they'll be eager to rip you apart. Or at least Simon will.
The personalities here are just like those in the show and Simon is as cruel as ever. Laura is much more of a pushover and Randy falls in the middle, but they are still the ones to go to for the fine points in what needs to be improved in the song. Simon provides a brutally honest litmus test of whether you have it or not.And he gets to deliver the best lines, saying, "I have never liked this song and you've done absolutely nothing to change my mind." His comments can easily make you hate him, pushing you to redo the song and make him eat his words.
It must have been the third time I sang "Hungry Like the Wolf" that I was determined to get everything right and see Simon have absolutely nothing bad to say. My first attempt was OK, the second was slightly better, but on the third I was on my feet and belting out the chorus, getting solid combos. I got 48,000 points, Simon loved it, and my downstairs neighbor called to ask what the hell was going on with all the Duran Duran love upstairs. The magic and the appeal of Karaoke Revolution is still here and those damn judges have pushed me to get scores I would never have achieved in previous versions.
It's possible to sing just one song and be judged, but the true game involves going from the local tryouts to Hollywood to compete through several different events to become the next American Idol. There are a few different lengths with eight to 18 rounds each, but each one plays out as a series of songs where the judging keeps getting tougher and tougher with the last few songs requiring some knockout performances. With this in mind it's best to figure out what songs are your strongest and save those for last. For a sure thing, save Fall Out Boy's "Sugar, We're Going Down" for the end. Those choruses are a lifesaver.
Any new Karaoke Revolution game needs a good new song list and it's a little longer this time around with a total of 40 tunes. The cover versions are the same high level of quality as in previous versions and the variety here provides a lot of ground to cover. There are classics such as "You've Lost That Loving Feeling," "Piano Man," and "Build Me Up Buttercup." And then there's "(There's) Always Something There To Remind Me" and, of course, "She Bangs." As always, check out the full list first, but be aware that even songs you think you might hate are far better when you're singing them.
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