Karaoke Revolution: Volume 2


posted 7/28/2004 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
Platforms: PS2
Get a couple of Japanese business men in suits together, put some Sake on the table, put on some Culture Club on the background, hand them a mic and you’ve got yourself the best entertainment that $20 can buy. Konami was able to successfully recreate that atmosphere at home with its excellent Karaoke Revolution. It effectively turned the PlayStation 2 into an addictive, innovative and highly entertaining karaoke machine. Now the company looks to reach Godzilla-like proportions with its follow-up, Volume 2.

Unlike the addendums that Konami released for the Beatmania and guitar Freaks franchises, Volume 2 is a stand alone product. Having the first game would be a nice way to break you into the game, but it’s not required in order to play it. This is a great move on Konami’s part because it opens up the game to people who may have played the first game (by renting it or borrowing it from a friend) but may not own it. On the negative side, Konami doesn’t offer a USB headset bundle for the game. You’ll either have to pick up a copy of the original and get the pack-in headset, or pick up a separate 3rd party microphone in order to play the game.

What you get here is more of the same. Whether that’s good or not depends entirely on how well you received the first one. If you were a huge fan of the first game then this one if right up your alley. It takes everything that the first game offers and builds on top of it. This includes additional venues to sing in, new characters to play as, and new costumes for each of the game’s pre-existing characters.

Initially you might find yourself licking your chops at the sight of the game’s massive song listing. There are over 30 songs for you to butcher up in front of your drunken buddies, comparable to what you found in the original game. It’s nice to have plenty of songs to choose from but you’ll soon find that the listing is full of songs that aren’t that fun to sing. The beauty of the first KR is that it tossed together a nice collection of songs that were both recognizable and fun to sing. Here you’ll find a bunch of songs that may be recognizable, but aren’t really fun to sing. In short they’re not the type of songs that you’ll find yourself mouthing along with when they come on the radio. What eventually happens is that you’ll find yourself shortening that list of 30 some-odd tracks down to a few personal favorites. Then when you get tired of those you’ll find yourself dropping the game entirely and heading back to the first one.

And that’s really the game’s main fault. While there are great songs like ‘My Girl’ and ‘Every Breath You Take’ on the soundtrack, they’re juxtaposed by inane songs like ‘I Hate Everything About You’ and ‘Perfect.’ It’s like the designers couldn’t come up with a demographic to cater to so they just decided to make it a crapshoot and take some songs from every single generation. This effectively divides the songs into age groups, and while each age group will find some pleasure out of some of them, they’ll also find themselves avoiding a huge number of them entirely. It would have been better if Harmonix had just released expansion packs for each genre such as “Oldies” “Pop Rock” and “80s.” That way there’d be a greater chance that players would enjoy each of the songs in the game instead of just a small handful.

A new addition comes in the form of Medley Mode which allows you to play portions of songs in succession. This is a fun mode that really shows its colors in the multiplayer arena. Instead of having to wait for others to complete a whole song, players will only need to wait for a portion of the song. Then they’ll be able to jump in and sing their heart out in rapid order. For the patience challenged, this is a godsend.

In buying Karaoke Revolution 2 you’re essentially purchasing an add-on pack, thinly disguised as a standalone product. It works well if you’re a huge fan of the first one but if you disliked Konami’s Freshman effort, there won’t be much here that’ll change your mind. A weak song listing and parse additions probably won’t do too much to cater to casual fans. Then again, that’s probably the exact same reason that true fans of the franchise will buy into it. Check the song listing first, and then make a decision.

It's a decent follow-up for fans of the first game, but the weak track listing is where the game really falters. There are a ton of songs here to play, but none of them will really grab at your attention. Check out the songs first to make sure you'll actually want to sing them.

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