A few weeks ago, we purchased “Karaoke Revolution – American Idol Encore” for my Nintendo Wii. Most of my family is obsessed with American Idol, and thought the game would be a lot of fun to play.
Unfortunately, the game just didn’t even come close to living up to our expectations.
The game play is actually quite good. It is quite fun to pick a song and sing along to it for points. The reaction from the American Idol judges is great. However, I’m sure the more you play the game, the more you hear the same comments over and over again.
The game structure is actually designed fairly well, allowing you to set up an American Idol “career” game, or just do some quick playing. The American Idol method allows you to set up a specific amount of rounds, which you can play with friends or by yourself, and sing your heart out for the judges. If they like you, they send you on to the next round. If they don’t, then (if you have this setting enabled), they kick you off the show. That’s a neat twist.
The game is actually extremely liberal regarding the quality of a person’s voice. As long as you are within about a half a step on either side of the note (in other words, even if you’re slightly sharp or slightly flat throughout the entire song, and genuinely sound horrible), you can still get a perfect score. The only differences between the difficulty settings on the game seems to be the amount of fluctuation in the pitch of the song. In other words, on “easy”, a long note stays on one pitch the whole time. On “expert”, however, it would waver up and down like a lot of R&B singers do.
The game only comes with about 25 or 30 songs available out-of-the-box. This wouldn’t be so bad if there was a way to add more songs to the game. Unfortunately, however, there are only three “unlockable” songs in the entire game, apparently, and there is no way to add more. With the advent of “downloadable content” on Guitar Hero and Rock Band (which has yet to come out for the Wii, unfortunately), it seems really short-sighted to release a game with such a small library of music from which to choose.
In addition, there are very few easy songs for people to sing. Each song has a difficulty rating from one to (I believe) four stars. The difficulty rating for the individual songs seems to be based on the speed of the vocals. If the song has a very slow tempo, and each word is long and drawn out, it gets a one-star difficulty rating. If the song has mostly vocals that need to be sung extremely quickly (think of R.E.M.’s End of the World (as we Know it), although that song’s not in the game), then it gets a higher difficulty rating. Unfortunately, there are only about three or four songs in the game that have a difficulty rating of only one star.
Finally, in some of the songs (Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, for one) the game requires you to sing the lead vocals and some of the backing vocals, which can be extremely difficult in places where the two sets of vocals naturally overlap.
This game comes packaged with a USB microphone. Using the microphone is kind of cool, but it’s also a real pain in the butt. This game is one of only three games I own for the Wii (the other two games being Donkey Konga and Donkey Konga 2 for the Gamecube) that puts me on a leash. The microphone is not wireless. Instead, you have to plug it into the back of the Wii where the USB slots are.
Still, it’s kind of cool that the game uses what appears to be a standard USB microphone.
All-in-all, I would give this game a rating of about two out of five. For American Idol fans, it might deserve a rating of two-and-a-half or three out of five. For people that can’t sing, I wouldn’t even bother trying to pick up this game, as it does require you to have some vocal talent.
To reiterate, the game is fun, but only remains fun for a very short period of time. Once you’ve tried all of the songs in the game, you’re pretty much ready to trade it in for something else.