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If you are working hard from 9 to 5 and need a little break, why not try Karaoke Revolution Country, presented by Country Music Television. After all, It's Five O'clock Somewhere.
Karaoke Revolution is one of the many games we have seen recently that challenges players to interact with their PS2 in some way using a piece of add-on hardware. In this respects, Karaoke Revolution is like Pump It Up Extreme, Beatmania and Guitar Hero. But instead of mashing buttons with your hands or your feet, you use your voice.
Everyone knows how to sing Karaoke by now and most people have probably either seen it being performed in a bar or perhaps have participated in it themselves either out on the town or at a private party. A song scrolls by the screen and as the words light up you sing them. The actual famous singer of the song is often playing in the background so live singers can hear what they are supposed to sound like, but maintain their star status.
Karaoke Revolution takes this to a much higher level, and does it in a pretty amazing way that lets the PS2 grade you on your performance. The game comes with a high quality Logitec microphone that plugs into a USB port on the front of the PS2. I happened to have a second microphone lying around and plugged it into the second port, which allowed me to sing duets with a partner.
How the game works is that you first create a player to represent yourself. You can make them skinny or fat, curvy or flat and dress them in all manor of shits and pants until you have the ultimate country singer. This part of the game is actually pretty fun and as you perform songs well you will unlock new outfits and accessories like hats and sunglasses that can be added to your performer.
There are also a variety of venues that you can perform at, each with some unique background things going on like a roller coaster at the country fair or stadium lighting displaying your name at the Megabowl. There is also a music video you can shoot, a dive bar to perform at complete with a mechanical bull and a rooftop serenade location - al la Beatles style.
Each venue has people in it and they react to how well you are singing the song. They will start to dance and holler if you are doing well, but might just boo you off the stage if you mess up.
How you are judged is one of the most unique aspects of the game. As a song is being scrolled across the bottom of the screen, you will see a line like a bar graph moving with the words. How high up the bar is on the musical scale will tell you how high you are supposed to sing, though you also have the voice of an actual singer to clue you in, just like real karaoke. There is also a little triangle that tells you where your voice is in relation to where it should be. If your triangle is above or below the bar, you are out of key a bit and need to lower or raise your pitch accordingly. You get points while your pitch perfectly matches the song.
After a line of the song finishes, you are scored for how well you did during that phase of the performance. If you were spot on, you will get a lot of points and the crowd will cheer and generally show their approval. If you could not keep it on key or sang the words at the wrong time, they will boo. If you consistently sing well, it will whip them into a frenzy as well as key your on-stage persona to dance around and generally look pretty happy. Doing badly will turn the crowd against you, and make your icon look worried until he eventually gives up and the song ends prematurely.
You can adjust the difficulty level, which increases or decreases the amount of time you have to be singing on pitch per song section. At the highest level, you better be the next American Idol or really know a song inside and out. The default setting is Easy, which while challenging, is not too difficult even for people who don't normally sing a lot, even in the shower.
There are 35 songs to choose from, and since the game is sponsored by Country Music Television, you can guess what genre they are. Personally I don't listen to country music or have any country stations set on my car radio, so I was not sure if I would like the game. However, most of the songs are ones you have probably heard of before and in fact are classics. I mean everyone knows On the Road Again, I walk the Line, The Gambler, Crazy and Dukes of Hazard theme song Good Ol Boys. And most people have probably heard All My Ex's Live In Texas (recently featured on the GTA: San Andreas soundtrack), 9 to 5, Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys and Redneck Woman (can I get a hell yea!).
These songs are perfect for parties since there will be at least some on there that everybody knows, and people generally will have fun singing songs like Friends In Low Places, especially after a few beers.
With two microphones you can sing duets. Some of the songs are true duets, meaning someone is going to have to sing harmony - the most difficult task in the game really. Others just require that both people sing the main song together.
You can also duel with another player, which puts you head to head for the favors of the crowd. This competitive mode is the most fun when done with a song montage, which can be set to random for a real challenge. I always lose the head to head fighting, but have a lot of fun anyway.
John Breeden II is the Chief Editor of GiN. While a forward thinking man he admits to a fondness for older video games. You should have seen him at Videotopia. John can be contacted at : firstname.lastname@example.org.