After outings stateside under the American Idol rubric, Karaoke Revolution returns with real (original) artists performing the songs. Although, Konami have remembered what made this the leading cross platform Karaoke game, it's hard to suggest it over the platform specific quality of SingStar or Lips.
Karaoke Revolution's cross platform reputation was built on not only the simplicity and breadth of experience, but also on their proprietary voice recognition algorithms - the engine of these sorts of games. While other titles focused on the bells and whistles, Karaoke Revolution was all about getting the basics right.
The problem is that they are still focusing on the basics, but everyone else has overtaken them. This is something that Konami are obviously aware of as they look to find their place in the singing market. After that aforementioned American Idol tie in, they now come back with a few more novelties.
These new ideas focus mostly around the career mode, and the ability to create both a virtual persona and stage on which to perform. Time has been spent here to provide a surprisingly nuanced character creation tool that is versatile enough to create a rough approximation of your appearance - or at least how your rock alter ego would look if it were released.
Other features show promise as well. The party mode supports an impressive 16 players with jump in gameplay. Original artists and music videos accompany the singing, and can be augmented by your own performance if you have a Playstation Eye camera. New technology provides improved scoring more accurate vocal pitch and rhythm detection - although I couldn't detect a vast improvement myself. And of course, as you progress you unlock new venues and options for your on screen avatar. Finally, you can also make use of your existing library of DLC Karaoke Revolution songs as well as using your own USB or Wireless microphones.
Beyond these additions, the general game play is as expected. Pick a song you know and sing along. The game provides both the words and a pitch bar to guide you. The closer you can sing to the tune and timing, the more points you score. Keep it up and you accumulate 'Star Boost' multipliers and bonuses.
Despite these efforts though, there is still a distinct lack of anything particularly 'revolutionary'. The game picks up on a system that's been with us for a number of years, but fails to bring anything substantially new to the party. On this basis, it's always going to struggle against the production values of the first party titles from Microsoft and Sony.
Karaoke Revolution gives away its ageing roots in its presentation. Next to the sparkle of Lips or the super cool of SingStar, it looks rather dated. With just a few moving parts to these singing games, the interface is where you will be spending much of your time. Here though there is a distinct lack of imagination. Menus are flat lists, as are track listings and game modes. Album art, which should be used to brand each singing experience is half heartedly placed to the side. There are also a few lip syncing issues with your avatar, something that is kind of important on a singing game.
The game does come with a strong 72 songs (22 more than the US version) that span the generations. There is something to please most tastes, from the Jackson 5 classic ABC, to David Bowie's eerie Space Oddity, to schoolgirl favourites Maroon 5 to Human, the indie anthem form The Killers. As well as the music included on the disc you can also take advantage of DLC songs from previous Karaoke Revolution titles on the same format.
Even with this solid track list, and the sensible step away from Simon Cowell, Karaoke Revolution still fails to answer what makes it unique. Without ever really creating a reason to buy the game on the basis of functionality, most people will look elsewhere for their singing fun. True, younger players may enjoy the dress-up stage show elements of the game, but I think that pleasure will fall to the Wii version to provide.