Review by Death Cradle

"This game rocks! (literally)"

Many people may not know this, but ''karaoke'' as we know it was invented in the Philippines. It was originally called ''Minus-One'' because it played the song minus the singing voice, allowing you to effectively sing along to it. The concept then spread like mushrooms, and was popularized in Japan, where it is now a staple of social life. You may believe the above story or not, but believe one thing. This game rocks!

Presentation: Upon bootup, KR at first strikes you as a Konami-style Bemani game, with its bright colors (and the ''Revolution'' name of course). But once the main menu kicks in, you will immediately notice the spartan-style font and disciplined design of Harmonix (as seen in their previous games Frequency and Amplitude). Menu design is quite simple, sporting a red-and-yellow vibe. Overall, presentation is simple and functional.

Gameplay: What can I say? KR is the most unique game I've seen in a long long time. After choosing a character (which resembles the Freqs from Amplitude) and venue, you can now pick from the first 4 songs. I think the first song I chose was ''Addicted'' by Simple Plan. Here's how it works. Your chosen character is shown posing and gyrating karaoke-style on the screen. As the song begins, the character ''sings'' to the lyrics of the song. Initially, there is a singing voice (not the original artist's voice), but this can be turned-off. More importantly, there is a horizontal bar across the bottom of the screen, divided into smaller horizontal bars. Each bar represents a note. The higher the bar, the higher the note. As the lyrics of the song scroll from right to left, a matching segment of the bar is ''lit'' to match the corresponding note. As the song's melody fluctuates up and down, so too does the lit portion of the horizontal bar representing its note. On the left-most side of the bar is an arrow. As you sing into your USB headset, the arrow miraculously picks up the exact note of your voice and points to its corresponding equivalent bar-level. Thus, using your voice, you need to keep the arrow at the same bar-level as the lit portion of the bar. Damn that sounds complicated! But it's really very simple and intuitive. Note that the longer a note/lyric takes, the longer its bar is lit, and the longer you will need to keep your voice singing. Note also that the game doesn't process lyrics, only notes. So you can sing Sixpence None The Richer's ''Kiss me... I wanna be your buddy...'' and it won't know the difference, but what's the fun in that? If you sing enough notes correctly, your character onscreen begins to glow brighter, until you shine like the superstar you truly are! A captive audience onscreen begins to increase in number, and they start to sway and and wave their arms to the beat (chanting ''yo...yo...yo'' to the beat), and finally you get the attention and glory that you never get from your so-called karaoke ''friends''. On the other hand, if you can't get the notes right, there is an occasional isolated clap (''plak ......... plak''), or worse, a collective groan from the audience. Repeated mistakes and the song will grind to a halt. The bright lights are replaced by a single humiliating spotlight shining on your dejected, talentless character. Either way, it's great fun!

Graphics: Visually, KR is very simple, almost (but not quite) to the point of being PSone-ish. Strangely enough, the graphics look a little dithered, but at least the framerate is stuck at 60 fps. Also, there are numerous moving objects in the background depending on the venue, from a roller-coaster in the Carnival, to trains in the Subway, adding to the illusion you're performing in an actual outside location, instead of just a room. Check out the final stage location for the ultimate in karaoke gratification!

Audio: The good thing about releasing this game on the PS2 instead of other consoles is that only Sony can probably use the songs for free practically, if only because of their sister company, Sony Music. The songs available are a pleasant collection of singable melodic tunes from the 70's (''Celebration''), 80's (''Girls Just Want To Have Fun''), 90's (''Hey Jealousy''), and 2k+ (''Addicted''). There are about 8 venues to choose from, each with 4 songs. Some other unlockable songs brings the total number to about 35. While this might sound like a lot, it really isn't, especially if the players are used to the thousands of choices they get from their local karaoke bars. So I suggest trying out everything otherwise you might run out of choices. Fortunately, there is an entry in the under the Options menu called ''Expansion Disks''. So, yes, hopefully we can expect future additions to the KR library. As it is though, the current choices are excellent songs to sing to (try R.E.M.'s ''It's The End of the World As We Know It'' for a good laugh!).

Overall: If you're into karaoke (and you know who are!), don't even THINK of not getting this game. This is the gaming event you have been waiting for all your life! But if you're not into karaoke, you should really pass on this one. Although Harmonix's voice/tone technology is awesome, any technological matters are irrelevant when compared to the pure, genuine and totally unique experience that is Karaoke Revolution!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/11/04

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