In a new turn for games on consoles, here is the latest karaoke game for the Playstation 2. Following Karaoke Revolution, Get on Da Mic allows you to follow in the footsteps of some of the more well known rap stars to hit the charts in the late 90s and early half of this decade. It brings to the table some decent graphics, some new gameplay options, and some unexpected results.
Get on Da Mic features multiple areas for you to lay down your tunes in, from your bathroom, all the way to a club party in the middle of town. Each environment is detailed and has varying amounts of background animation. In your bathroom, the clothing hanging up over your bathtub changes depending on which avatar was chosen to represent your on-screen presence. The radio hops and jams in with the beat. The club environment came complete with a stage, crowd and your best friend on the mixing table. I found the club disturbing as it did feature a crowd jamming along with your rhymes, but they did it in a way that was so organized I had to shudder. They were all clones who were just reacting your beat, and what seeming randomness the system inserted it just couldn’t break the pattern.
The graphics for the menus were moderately quick, and simple. They are done in a simple list format for most of the menus. The developers made the game really easy to navigate and the only serious pause in the flow was when you were either going into a song, or coming out of one. Bravo to the developers for this one. I never felt like I was waiting on the game at any point.
This game brings to the table a nice mix of music from the last ten years or so. It isn’t hardcore gangster rap, but it’s not all melodic rap either. A friend of mine who was watching me play commented that the majority of the music choices were pretty good. The artists included Notorious B.I.G., Snoop Dogg, Sir Mix-A-Lot, and many more mainstream artists. There were forty songs in all for us to choose from.
We booted up “The Humpty Dance” and my friend took the mike first. We used the Playstation 2 headset by Logitech. We had the microphone volume turned all the way up, and he still basically had to swallow it for the game to hear him, and playback his voice. We did moderately well, switching back and forth to play different one star songs. The game played the tracks heavy on the background in most cases had the lead vocals backing up our rap.
Now, for our first couple of songs, we chose simple one star songs. The game responded for the most part properly, marking our singing by turning the text gold/green/yellow/red depending on how good our timing was. My friend just had to rap with California Lovin’ (REMIX) as it was a favorite song of his. This is a four star song, and I didn’t think he would keep up. He made a valiant effort, but ultimately a minute into the song, he fell off rythm so badly. In a fit of inspiration, he simply began to scat in the style of the great jazz artists of the mid-1930s, and we were both shocked to watch his score go through the roof. The crowd meter climbed higher and higher, and the ‘Get on Da Mic’ animation played as he wow’ed the crowd with continued combinations.
We were both stunned by this turn of events, but only after we had stopped laughing at the performance he had put on. I took the headset from him and began a Snoop Dogg track by picking at random. I just spit into the microphone in rythm with the words and found my score shooting through the roof as well. It would seem there is little voice recognicion going on in the background, but simple beat/sound input detection on the specific words. It turns out that the game was little more than Dance Dance Revolution, with a slightly different controller. Once this was discovered, all challenge went out of the game.
As I reported in the control section, the basic gameplay is to rap along with the bar that moves along under the words. The better you do, the higher your rating with the crowd goes, and the chances for you to pull a special ‘Get on Da Mic’ move at multiple places during the song. All of this is done to earn money for your avatar to spend.
As we played the game, we did notice that the songs in this game seem to vary from the originals we remember. For any people who may be concerned, any swear words that appeared in the lyrics were censored out, but it was obvious what each word should have been. The lyrics were as we remember for a fair bit of these songs, but the beat was different. One song was hard to tell, as it was simply a remix of California Lovin, but Humpty Dance was definately different than we could tell. We did not compare them to the original tracks, as the change seemed to be an overall club/house mix of the beats and timing, but it did throw us until we got use to the new timings.
One nice note, the manual does provide the complete lyrics for each of the songs, making it easy to look at a song in advance so you know the words. This doesn’t help with the timing of the song, but it is some information in advance. If you don’t have a manual, you can pull the lyrics up on the music selection screen, which was a nice addition as well.
There are multiple modes, starting with the basic “Career” mode where you progress through different scenes and only a limited number of songs on easy difficulty. As you complete songs successfully, you open up the ability to perform at venues outside your own personal sound studio (your bathroom), and you can attempt the songs again at a higher difficulty. You can also just run the forty songs in the exhibition mode and just rap along, if playing through single player isn’t something that appeals to you.
The game also provides several multiplayer modes, such as “Pass da Mic”, Cooperative, Party, and Freestyle. Freestyle provided to be very interesting, as the controller was handed to the audience and they had the option to hit a button to rate me thumbs up or down. It was the one mode that did not have any lyrics. You can just pick the background beats from one of the songs and go for it in your own personal style. The game will still offer some feedback on how you are doing against the beat, but it is minor. Party and Pass da Mic modes were the most interesting. They provided a way for each player to get up in turn and perform. In Party, you performed a whole song each, then are scored. In Pass da Mic, each person who is performing gets part of the song then passes the microphone on to the other player. They tag team this way, being score individually and together. It made for some complications since I just had a headset, and we gave up on putting the headset on during play of this more.
The game provides reason to play the songs over and over again in the different modes so you can earn money to buy fashion items for your avatar and home. It provides a way to customize the eight or so avatars available to you. If you play well with the intial avatars, you can unlock more one at a time, providing you more people to buy clothing, cars, and household items for.