Karaoke Revolution Volume 3 Review
(There are a number of other reasons why you should go out and grab this game, but I'll get to those in a minute...)
If you can convince at least one person you know to come over and play, and don't mind shelling out another $20-$30 for another microphone (the new Logitech handheld mic is superb), then you absolutely must add Karaoke Revolution Volume 3 to your collection just because of its "duet" mode. Each of the 3 duet play settings offers a different take on the tandem experience. You can co-operate in a true duet, where both players sing specific sections of each song and rack up a cumulative score. There's a sing-off option, where players sing specific sections of each song and try to get their own high score. Lastly, there's a knockout competition, where the game judges each player's ability to sing one verse after another and ultimately knocks out the loser once the winner racks up numerous "good" verses in a row. All of these play options can be adjusted to last one or multiple rounds, use random or user-selected songs, and emply full or shortened versions of songs. Another nice feature of the duet mode is that multiple characters and teams can be setup. You can get an entire room going and the game will keep track of everyone's scores.
Let's say, for the sake of argument, that you don't care about the duet mode. That's fine. Volume 3 contains all of the single-player and single-microphone modes that were included in Volume 2, but also incorporates a few tweaks and improvements that make this version worth getting even if you already own the first two.
There are more characters, costumes, and venues to pick from, which means you're less likely to get bored with what you see on-screen while singing. The song list is probably the most well-rounded yet, even if a few of them are repeats taken from volume 1 for use mainly in the duet mode. The setup menu lets you adjust the microphone, vocals, and background music volumes to a greater degree than in the previous game, such that it's now possible to totally silence an aspect or pump it up to the stratosphere. Also, the game seems to do a better job of judging pitch and word choice than previous installments did, even though it's still possible to substitute incorrect words in place of the actual verses much of the time.
For those of you unfamiliar with how Karaoke Revolution works, here's a quick primer. The lyrics to the song you're attempting continually scroll by at the bottom of the screen, situated under colored tubes that are located on a staff. The location of these tubes represents how high or low you need to sing, while their length represents the duration. An arrow at the side of the screen tells you what pitch you're singing in. In generally, you want to sing on-key so that the arrow passes through the tubes as they pass by. In many cases, the game can't detect if you're actually singing the correct words (just the correct pitch), but, as mentioned earlier, they seem to have tweaked this game so that the CPU can tell when you're outright flubbing certain verses in certain songs. The game rewards you with points for each verse you sing reasonably well, which can be used in some modes to unlock new characters, venues, cheats, and video clips. All of this happens as the music plays in the background and your character turns in a performance on-screen in one of the game's 20+ venues.
So, how good is the game at judging pitch and timing? Pretty good actually. Even if you're a no-tone baritone, you should be able to sing most songs once you get the volume changes down. If you have a particularly high- or low-pitched voice, you'll have an easier time of it, since the hardware seems to pick up those kinds of tones the best. There are multiple difficulty settings to choose from, which change how strictly the game judges pitch and timing. On the easiest setting, you'll score points so long as you're within a full octave plus or minus.
Visuals aren't the game's strong point. They never have been and they never will be. The polygon models that make up the performers, audience, and surrounding arenas are smooth and colorful. The various video screens, bubble machines, laser machines, and giant balloons inside each venue are nice also. Nonetheless, the overall quality (color depth, # of polygons, sharpness, etc.) is more in line with games from 2001 as opposed to 2005.
The game's high points are its diverse array of play modes and its song list.
In addition to the wonderful new duet options, Karaoke Revolution Volume 3 has a wide selection of single-player and single-microphone (two-player) play options. For solo play, you can pick quick play, showtime, medley, and karaoke options. Quick play lets you pick a venue and a song to perform; showtime challenges you to perform one song from a small list in each venue; medley challenges you to perform a random mixture of between 3 and 7 songs; and the karaoke option is pure practice. Despite the inclusion of the duet feature, which requires the use of two microphones, you can also participate in a trio of multiplayer games by passing around a single mic. These games include arcade and medley, which function just like competitive variations of the showtime and medley modes found in the single-player menu, along with a karaoke competition which lets a third person judge a winner based upon overall vocal quality.
Volume 3 easily has the strongest song list of any of the Karaoke Revolution games, despite the fact that a handful of them are repeats from Volume 1. You'll find Top 40 hits, like "The Reason" (Hoobastank), "Come Clean" (Hillary Duff), "Oops, I Did It Again" (Britney Spears), "Burn" (Usher), and "My Immortal" (Evanescence). There are classics like "Respect" (Aretha Franklin), "Unchained Melody" (Righteous Brothers) and "California Dreamin'" (The Mamas and the Papas). You'll discover a bunch of popular 80's standards, including Michael Jackson's "Beat It" and Simple Minds' "Don't You (Forget About Me)," which everyone remembers from the 1985 John Hughes film, The Breakfast Club. It's tough to complain about the repeats that were put in from Volume 1 (such as "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "I Got You Babe"), since they were chosen specifically to take advantage of the new duet mode, which also finally allows boys and girls (or girly boys) to pair up for a couple-oriented rendition of "You're the One That I Want," also known as 'that song from Grease that all the girls love.'
Once again, all of the songs in Karaoke Revolution Volume 3 are performed by studio musicians and not the actual artists. Some people may be annoyed by that choice, but the studio performers actually do a great job of mimicking the originals. Besides, you're supposed to be the singing star here.
The full song list (original artist in parantheses)--
"A B C" (Jackson 5)
"Against All Odds" (Phil Collins)
"Ain't No Mountain High Enough" (Marvin Gaye, Tammy Terrell)
"Beat It" (Michael Jackson)
"California Dreamin'" (The Mamas and the Papas)
"Careless Whisper" (Wham!)
"China Grove" (Doobie Brothers)
"Come Clean" (Hillary Duff)
"Don't You (Forget About Me)" (Simple Minds)
"Flashdance... What a Feeling" (Irene Cara)
"Hold On" (Good Charlotte)
"I Got You Babe" (Sonny and Cher)
"If I Ain't Got You" (Alicia Keys)
"In the Midnight Hour" (Wilson Pickett)
"Joy to the World" (Three Dog Night)
"Killing Me Softly" (Fugees)
"Leave (Get Out)" (Jo Jo)
"Love Shack" (B-52's)
"Meant to Live" (Switchfoot)
"My Immortal" (Evanescence)
"New York, New York" (Frank Sinatra)
"Oops!... I Did It Again" (Britney Spears)
"Respect" (Aretha Franklin)
"Shining Star" (Earth, Wind, and Fire)
"Snake Eater" (From Metal Gear Solid 3)
"Take My Breath Away" (Berlin)
"Thank You" (Dido)
"The Reason" (Hoobastank)
"Twist and Shout" (The Beatles)
"Unchained Melody" (Righteous Brothers)
"Under Pressure" (Queen & David Bowie)
"Waiting For You" (Akira Yamaoka, from MGS3)
"When I'm Gone" (Three Doors Down)
"Why Can't I" (Liz Phair)
"You're the One That I Want" (Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta)
Look at that list! The Beatles, Liz Phair, Queen, Frank Sinatra, Alicia Keys, Hoobastank, Good Charlotte, Hillary Duff, Britney Spears, Usher, Michael Jackson, Berlin, Dido, Switchfoot, The B-52's... and so on. Get a few friends together and you're each guaranteed to know and love at least a handful of these songs, assuming (of course) that you're not a diehard hip-hop devotee.
Karaoke Revolution Volume 3 truly is a no-brainer. So long as you have at least a slight interest in karaoke, you should get it--whether or not you already own any of the previous volumes.
1/7/2005 Frank Provo