Karaoke…the mere mention of the word conjures up images of drunken Japanese businessmen murdering songs in a smoky bar. This is very bad. However, the word karaoke can be improved dramatically if you put the word movie in front of it. Movie Karaoke is the new product from Fooseoke and it's exactly what the title implies, a way for you to record your voice over existing lines in a movie.
When I first heard about this product, I got that "Why didn't I think of that" feeling. This is something most people do all of the time (I can't tell you the number of movie quote battles Yan and I have gotten into). Movie Karaoke takes this concept one step further by allowing you to actually record your voice and then play it back as part of the dialogue of the movie. It's a good concept but I was a little concerned about how well this could be executed.
I tried out the American Pie edition of Movie Karaoke which includes 17 scenes from the entire American Pie trilogy (four from the first movie, six from the second, and seven from the third movie). Instead of giving you the entire movie, you only get certain key scenes. This was a bit of a let down but not surprising since all three movies would require significantly more storage space. Instead, you’re at the mercy of the developers to pick the best scenes from the movie. They picked most of the key scenes that I would have chosen. The only ones that I would have added would have been the Nadia in Jim’s room scene from the first movie. I’m guessing they kept that one out to keep it PG.
The version I reviewed was a “special edition” version which included a microphone (a must have for the game). What impressed me was that the cord on the microphone was about seven feet long which is long enough to reach from the back of the computer and to be able to pass to people around the computer without having to change seats. It's a nice touch and shows some foresight that you usually don't see from software companies.
The user interface for Movie Karaoke is a bit cluttered at first glance as the developers squeezed everything onto one screen. That coupled with the fact that the UI is built around the American Pie theme (including a flute, panties, and condom wrapper) and it is confusing at first glance. I adapted pretty quickly, though, as the developers included tool tips to illustrate what everything does. There isn't much in the way of a manual, just a reference card that outlines the functions of the game. There is a short tutorial that walks you through the process but it’s really not that complex.After you’ve started the game and gone through the microphone check (you only have to do this once), it’s time to start laying down tracks. To get started, you select a movie and a scene. You can then view the scene in its entirety or begin to work on your recording. It’s best to rehearse the lines first before recording since the pacing of some of the dialogue is a bit tricky. Once you’ve got it down you select a take to save your recording in, hit the record button and then follow the on screen cues. The game runs the scene a few lines before the new dialog starts so you have a chance to prepare yourself. Once the scene is over, you can replay your take to see how well you did. Of course, you don’t have to use the movie dialog; you can create your own. For example, you could replace the dialog where Jim and his dad talk awkwardly about sex with “You’re not my father” scene from The Empire Strikes Back. OK, so that’s a bit geeky but it’s just a hint of what you can do with the game.
The actual audio recording isn’t bad but it’s not great. It’s a bit jarring when they switch from the movie dialog but that’s not too unexpected. I don’t have a movie quality recording studio in the house so a little roughness is to be expected. The file sizes are about one MB per take so if you do a lot of takes you’ll need to watch your hard drive space. The game itself runs completely from the CD so the only things it puts on your hard drive are the recordings.
Another cool feature of the game is that you can e-mail your takes to friends. As long as they have a copy of the game, then they can replay back your take. This allows you to create scenes using takes from different people and they don’t even have to be in the same location to participate. This is just another good example of the well thought out design in the game.
My gripes are pretty small. The video is a bit grainy (probably a necessity to get as many movie scenes on the CD) and I would have liked to have a diagram of what everything on the screen does rather than having to rely on tool tips. The game also didn’t install a shortcut on the desktop or in the Programs menu so any time you want to run the game you have to either open and close the CD player to activate the auto run feature or you have to open up the Explorer view and root out the executable to get the game running.
All in all this is a pretty solid product. If you have the Shrek or Goldmember DVD’s, then you already have a copy of this you can try out before you take the plunge. At $29.99, it’s a good deal for how much fun you could have with the product. Movie Karaoke could also be a killer Home Theatre PC application, especially if you had a wireless microphone. This is one of those games that doesn’t do a lot but what it does it does very well.
A solid karaoke experience that will provide a lot of entertainment without having to torture others with your singing voice.
Rating: 8.8 Class Leading
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
Hi, my name is Charles Husemann and I've been gaming for longer than I care to admit. For me it's always been about competing and a burning off stress. It started off simply enough with Choplifter and Lode Runner on the Apple //e, then it was the curse of Tank and Yars Revenge on the 2600. The addiction subsided somewhat until I went to college where dramatic decreases in my GPA could be traced to the release of X:Com and Doom. I have been a Microsoft Xbox MVP since 2009.