Karaoke for the Xbox Live Arcade is a party game that is trying to fill a hole in the video game market. Any game that has any sort of music in it needs a decent playlist, and in this respect, Karaoke goes above and beyond. This game is different from Guitar Hero in that you can play Guitar Hero on your own; with Karaoke, you need friends around for the game to feel like it has value.
Karaoke is something that is mostly done at bars or when you have the urge to play rock band with four people. Its popularity is waning, but for those occasions when you would like to sing some rocking tunes with your friends there is not a whole lot of variety from which to choose from. Karaoke is able to put itself into a position where it would be the best game for people who want to sing karaoke at parties. The game has over 8,000 songs that you can choose from and this is due to the fact that the game is backed by The Karaoke Channel; 8,000 songs is way more than any other music-based game. This volume gives the game a boost because you can find just about any song you could want. The songs are not all based in one or two genres either; it covers everything from country to heavy metal. Due to the fact that it is an arcade game, the songs are streamed to your Xbox and you don’t have to worry about changing discs to find the songs that you want.
Now for the things that don’t matter as much as the songs you can sing. There is a reward system that gives you props that your avatar can play with while they are singing. The reward system is trying to make it seem like the player is progressing through a story, but this game is a party game, and the reward system is just a side thing that matters very little. Another issue is the games reactions to headsets. While you can use a microphone, for someone who didn’t get Rock Band when it was popular, the only microphone is on my headset. This is a problem because the game doesn’t seem to like how loud I sing and I need to belt out the songs for it to register in game. I would assume that a handheld microphone separate from the headset would be a better thing for this game not only would it pick up voices better, but it is a lot easier to pass around than a headset. I am also surprised that the Kinect is not compatible with this. It has a microphone built-in so why not try to utilize that? The one thing that would make sense with this would be that the Kinect can pick up a lot of ambient noise, potentially not picking up the lyrics for the song.
As a person who plays most of his games alone or online without people physically next to me, I have another issue with the game. To gain access to all the songs, you have to pay per hour. The price is 240 MS points for 2 hours; I personally am not going to spend that much to play by myself. If you do plan on having a party with a lot of people and want to play for a longer period than 2 hours, 6 hours is available for 400 MS points. On the bright side, if you are simply playing on your own and don’t want to spend the money, there are five free songs daily that you can play, but they are chosen for you. Logically this system is what will work, seeing as the game is marketed as a party game, why would you want to pay per song?
Karaoke, while being a good party game, is good for little else. You have access to over 8,000 songs from a wide range of genres. I don’t think you should play the game by yourself, playing with friends is a bunch of fun just like Rock Band was when it first came out.
Final Score: The game gets 7 out of 10
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