I imagine, at one point, there were simultaneous meetings at both FOX and Konami. FOX was sitting on the American Idol IP hoping someone would make a good game with singing. Konami was sitting on Karaoke Revolution wishing they could come up with a good single player story mode for their series. That was when a stroke of genius came to both sides (most likely Konami first, FOX second. Afterall, these are the same guys who cancelled Firefly). Let’s take our ridiculously popular IP and slap it on an established series!
That’s right. Take everything you love and hate about the Karaoke Revolution series and add in Simon Cowell and you have the American Idol edition. While previous Karaoke Revolution games sufferred from a lack of single player cohesiveness, now you can take your customized singer through a campaign to become the new American Idol. And let’s be honest, the entire time you were playing the Country Edition, you wished you were on Nashville Star, so it’s a natural progression. All the characters are here, Simon, Randy, and Paula, each with their own distinct personalities. Simon is going to tell you how awful you are, Paula will drunkenly comment on your wardrobe, and Randy will make the most random comments about your pitch that may or may not be accurate. He may or may not also call you his ‘dawg’. Just what you wanted!
The song list is actually kinda great. There are recent hits from Christina Aguilera, and if you try, you can hit those notes. However, fans of the show will appreciate the range of musical styles. Piano Man is just a damn fun song to sing, and I dare anybody to not do a William Hung impression with She Bangs; I know I did.
Anyone who has played the previous KR entries will feel at home with the gameplay, as you are still judged both on pitch as well as timing. Unfortunately, not much has been fixed in this version of Karaoke Revolution, and much of the time you can’t just sing the song and win. You have to sing a note and then adjust it to go at just the right pitch in order to score. It can be frustrating and takes a bit of practice to figure it all out. Personally, I ignore the score and belt out off-key renditions that would make FOX happy to put me on their gag reel. And oh yeah, if you have an Eye Toy, American Idol, you can use the camera to put your face in the game, literally. You can create a little 3D model of yourself to use as your avatar. It also feeds the camera image into the monitors on stage while you sing. Classy.
What really hurts the game is the presentation. While the performances are well animated and varied, the limited amount of judge responses gets stale very quickly. After your 5th performance, you really are going to hear about all Randy, Paula, and Simon have to say. The menus are bland, and a lot of the time, you really don’t get the American Idol excitement. When judging is announced, you just see a bunch of names on a list disappear and hope you’re not one of them. Ryan Seacrest doesn’t lend anything to this game, except for sound bites pulled directly from the TV broadcast. There is no exciting fully animated sequences where you watch the votes come in, like on the show. There is no “good bye song”. It’s just “whoops, you tried. Go again?”.
That actually sums up how I feel about this game perfectly. Please, try again Konami, you’re so damn close. ‘American Idoling’ the Karaoke Revolution formula works so well for the series, and a more engaging single player adventure would really make the game a must buy for both fans of the show and Karaoke Revolution fans. For now, I say give it a rent. You’ll see all you want to see in just a single play-through.