First came the Karaoke bar, where people could pretend that they were singing sensations while getting their drink on at the same time. Then came the Revolution, where aspiring pop stars could hone their skills at home. Next were the duets, where two players could try their luck at singing melodies together. So what exactly is the latest step in the Karaoke Revolution franchise? A combination of singing, dancing and hit songs of course – Get ready to bust a move, cuz there ain’t no party like a Karaoke Revolution Party, from Konami.
Revolution Party essentially operates on the principle of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, with the basic mechanics of the game not having changed at all from the original title. Players sing along with the lyrics that scroll along at the bottom of the screen. The note tubes above each lyric indicate how long you sing a particular note, with longer tubes for held notes. An arrow on the left side of the screen tracks how accurate your singing is -- sour notes will draw boos from the computerized crowd, whereas perfect pitch gets you cheers. Once the song is done, the game calculates just how accurate you are and rates your performance. Good routines can earn you gold or platinum records, which unlocks new songs, characters or costumes for your in-game superstar. For the most part, judging of your note accuracy is rather liberal until you start going up to some of the higher difficulty levels, at which point the game can start cracking down on the odd blue note or two. Sure, you'll still wind up dealing with the infuriating situation of screaming, "That's not how that song sounds!" with a personal favorite, but it feels like you've got a little more control this time around.
Revolution Party takes a mild departure from the previous titles in the series. No longer are you trying to take a character through a “career” from the simple setup of a garage to the largest stadiums around. Now, the game is essentially broken up into based on the number of microphones that will be used to sing for the game. Apart from simply choosing a song and starting to sing in the Quick Play or Karaoke One Mic players will have the option to out sing their opponents in Arcade style, tackling a medley of tracks, entering the Karaoke Revolution Challenge to give your singers an especially hand twist, such as hiding the lyrics of tracks or other meters that measure your progress. Two Mics give you the same options, along with sing off and knock off medleys and the popular duets from previous installments. For the most part, the real meat of the game is found in either the duet or arcade modes, which let you unlock new songs, costumes and singing avatars that can be used in the game.
New to the mix this time around is the Sing and Dance mode, which really measures your rhythm with a given piece of music. We all know that the days of standing still and singing have long gone by; even "crooners" have some amount of movement when performing their songs. Sure, it might not be up to the choreographed steps of boy bands, but there's at least some swaying going on in time to the beat. Revolution Party takes this fact and executes it by marrying its singing gameplay with the rhythm focused steps from the Dance Dance Revolution series. The result is a song that has both lyrics and dance steps that scroll along as the song is played, and performers will have to sing in key and hit the right steps on the dance pad or the controller to pass a song. You might've thought that some songs were challenging before when you were just sitting on the couch, but try getting on your feet and holding a long note while dancing!
The inclusion of the dance pad seems like a pretty obvious idea that would be connected sooner or later, but the number of cords can definitely trip up even the most agile of players. Consider that you'd probably have to handle the controller to select a song or a game mode, the cord for the microphone or headset and the cord for the dance pad and you'll easily be tripped up. Plus, if you happen to be a tall player, you may have to rearrange where your system is to give you enough slack to play without constantly hunching over and pulling something out of the system. Additionally, there are three minigames that allow you to play beach volleyball, stage dive or collect fan tokens thrown on stage, using your voice to direct your movements. While it's an amusing diversion, it's not really going to keep your attention for more than a few seconds as you dip through all the notes in your range trying to move around the screen.
There are a few new characters and outfits that you can mix and match for this title to create your own "unique" avatar, but for the most part, the visual details haven’t really changed. You still have solid animations for the crowd and backgrounds, the lip syncing for your avatar is still decent, and the particle effects are still very nice for fireworks or combo meters. There are a few new animations for your singer too, such as when they are obviously belting a note out with such force that they start shaking. Song selection keeps with the Karaoke Revolution tradition, with a lot of disco, Motown and modern pop rounding out chart selections, although this year they included a number of rock and alternative songs as well. Xbox owners will be pleased to know that they can double the number of songs available thanks to Xbox Live, although they'll need to pay a fee for the extra songs. It may seem like a minor thing, but it makes the Xbox version stand out much more than the PS2 or the Gamecube version because of the expansion to the song list.
Easily the most fun you'll have singing outside of the shower, Karaoke Revolution Party takes the next logical step for the franchise and delivers what's probably the strongest showing of the series yet. While it might take a little getting used to singing and dancing at the same time, Revolution Party is still one of those games that will amuse you and your friends for some time.