Karaoke Revolution Party is the fourth title in the singing-game series from Konami, this time adding in the ability to sing and dance using a Dance Dance Revolution dancepad.  The game also adds in more multiplayer options and enhanced EyeToy support.  The game also features an eclectic mix of fifty songs to please just about any music listener.


Developed by Harmonix, the current kings of the music-game world thanks to their hit Guitar Hero, the question is whether or not this game will live up to their legacy of solid to great titles in the past or if this one hits one bad note too many.

While the character animations and overall graphic style are quite goofy in nature, especially the dancing animations, Harmonix has had enough practice with this style of animation in not only the previous Karaoke Revolution games but also in their other music games.  While it’s goofy, it’s quite polished in nature.  There’s nothing to really point out as being particularly bad.  On the other side, the graphics engine is obviously not pushing the Playstation 2 hard at all, which keeps it graphically in the center of the road. 


Admittedly, the best thing in the graphics engine is in the character creation, where one can change various character looks, although the question of why not have more color choices on hair, for example, tends to boggle from time to time.


As stated before, the animation quality is quite good, and the overall presentation is polished.  It tends to lead one to seeing nothing bad, but nothing stellar either.  Still, solid and polished is never bad.

As with the other games in the series, Karaoke Revolution Party is filled with songs from various genres voiced by soundalikes.  In most cases, the quality of the soundalikes are quite good, although there are a few cases where it’s obvious that it’s a soundalike, espcially on songs with very distinctive voices, like the late, great Freddie Mercury, for example.


The overall sound quality is quite good as well, with the songs coming through crisp and clear, and the audience also making itself heard enough that you can tell when they’re clapping and cheering and when they’re booing you off the stage.  All of the songs are professionally done and sound quite good with few exceptions.


As it’s a music game, the song selection and variety must be touched on here.  This game has forty-four songs out of a total of fifty available from the beginning, varying in artist from Queen to Billy Joel, and from Ashlee Simpson to Trapt.  The songs vary in genre from classic tunes from the 40s and 50s to songs that just came out within the past year or two.  It’s a very eclectic mix, which can be both good and bad, depending on your familiarity with the songs in question.

The controls in Karaoke Revolution Party are pretty simple.  Other than the menu options, which use the controller, everything in the game is controlled by your voice.  The songs scroll across the screen with the pitch you’re to aim at, and as you sing, an arrow will show where you are in relation to the pitch, either higher, lower or dead on. 


The only place this changes is in the Sing and Dance mode, where you both sing and use a DDR pad to do some basic dancing steps in time with the music.  This can actually be very difficult, unless you’re very used to the singing, know the song very well and can keep an eye on both your pitch and the dance arrows.  This isn’t so much of a problem with the game itself as an unfortunate occurance that happens when you combine trying to sing a song you may not know very well with a dance routine.  Then again, even professional singers hire choreographers for their dancing on-stage, so it’s not too big of a surprise here.


One other issue that can arise is if your voice tends to lie between two octaves.  When and if you switch pitches in the middle of a song, the game takes a few notes to catch up to the changes, and you generally won’t get credit for the notes in between, as it thinks that you’re either very high or very low, depending on which way you went.


The EyeToy is also available for use in character creation as well as during the actual game, as you can use the EyeToy camera to display your picture on the screens in the background of each of the arenas.

Unlike previous games in the series, there’s no real career mode in Karaoke Revolution Party.  This game is primarily aimed at using in a party atmosphere with groups of people.  Granted, for adults that generally means healthy amounts of alcohol to help one not care about acting like a fool, but it works well for groups of kids as well, without the alcohol. 


The first mode available is Quickplay, which jumps you into a song immediately. You can choose your character, the song and the venue, and off you go.  If you’re feeling brave, you can hit the circle button for both song and venue to have the game choose one of each for you randomly.  Once the song is over, you can either repeat the song, choose a new one, or go back to the main menu.


Most of the gameplay in Karaoke Revolution Party lies in the mingames, as the next two selections show.  First is One Mic Party for those games that only require one microphone.  You have Arcade mode, where you can take from 2 to 8 players, set up between 1 and 5 rounds, whether you want the song to be the full thing or a shorter version, and which rounds you want to have random songs, either all of them, none of them, or just the last.  At this point, it’s just like Quickplay, where you choose the song and character before continuing on.  The highest score, of course, wins. 


Medley mode is next, allowing one to eight players to sing a medley of three to five songs with the goal again being the highest score.  Sing and Dance mode is next, also for two to eight players like Arcade mode.  The options here are the same as Arcade mode as are the goals. 


Next up are the minigames.  There are only two that require just one microphone.  One is Beach Volleyball, which plays like pong, except the men on the beach are controlled by the pitch of your voice.  The game gives you the correct pitch, and you have to sing that pitch to move your men where they need to be.  The other minigame is Yo! Dude! Rock!, where you are trying to get stage divers into the crowd.  They will have one of the three words (Yo, Dude or Rock) and you have to hit the right pitch out of three at the right time to cause them to dive into the crowd.


Last is KR Challenge, which allows you to take between two and eight players and choose between two and five different play modes to see who is the best at Karaoke Revolution.  This mode allows you to throw the minigames, random songs, the dance mat and some advanced events into the mix as well.


For those with two microphones, Two Mic Party offers some additional modes.  First is Duets, allowing two to eight players to sing as teams to achieve the best score.  Duet Medley is the same as Medley, but with duets.  Knock Out lets two players compete head to head to knock each other out in a best of one, three or five round contest.  Knock Out Medley does the same with the song medleys.  Sing Off is similar to Guitar Hero’s multiplayer mode.  In this case, two players sing alternating phrases in an attempt to get the highest score.  Minigames adds one more to the mix along with the aforementioned Beach Volleyball and Yo! Dude! Rock!, titled Fanfare.  In this, two players work together to attempt to pick up as many gifts on stage in a limited time.  Each player controls one direction, which requires the players to work together to get the gifts in the best order.


Next is Sing and Dance mode, which is like Quickplay, except with the addition of the dance pad, with all of the difficulties mentioned back in the Control section of this review.  The next mode is Character Creator, where you can change any of the pre-made characters to your choosing, although two of the locked characters cannot be modified in any way.  Karaoke mode is exactly as it sounds, giving you the ability to sing any of the sings without worrying about the judging or the crowds, which is also nice for parties.


The Extras menu is next, which has the training mode, for those who have never played the game before, all of the high scores you’ve set, the progress you make towards unlocking all of the rewards in the game, any trophies you’ve collected, the credits, and one question-marked option which is only available when you get a Diamond Record on all of the fifty songs in the game.


Next is the Options screen, which allows you to set up the microphone, the overall sound, the gameplay options as well as saving and loading your game.   Last up is a demo for DDR Extreme 2, which works quite well considering that you’ve probably already got the dance pad if you’ve got this game.

Karaoke Revolution Party is less aimed at those who already have other games in the series and more for those who tend to have people around a lot, playing games.  While the addition of the Sing and Dance mode is nice in concept, it could easily have waited until the eventual release of Karaoke Revolution volume 4.  It doesn’t add much to the party concept, and without a career mode forcing you to learn how to sing and dance at the same time, it seems more tacked on than anything.


The game also lacks any real reason to get all of the unlockables as only six songs are unlocked and a handful of characters and outfits.  It’s more aimed for the hardcore Karaoke Revolution player as opposed to a group of people at a party.  It’s really almost like it’s a mixed message being sent by Konami and Harmonix on this particular game. 


All in all, however, it’s still a very solid game with good song choices.  If you’re into the Karaoke Revolution games or just have a lot of parties, this is a solid pick up, especially if you’ve already got microphones or headsets to play with.  For someone new to the series, though, Karaoke Revolution volume 3 might be a better choice.

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