American Idol

Review

posted 2/9/2004 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: GBA
There is not one thing about the American Idol television show that appeals to me. I don’t like reality shows, I don’t like the judges that rate the talent, and I hate the music these people sing. To me, a night at home listening to a bunch of twenty-something’s belt out Bette Midler ballads is comparable to shaving my skin off with a butter knife. There is not a force great enough to get me to watch American Idol, let alone vote in it!

So why am I the one reviewing the American Idol GameBoy Advance game? After all, I certainly don’t speak for the target audience of this game. I’m just about as uninterested in this genre as a human being can be. Yet, I find myself compelled to see if this could be as intolerable as the television show that bares its name.

American Idol is a rhythm game in the sense that you push the button when it tells you to. Your cursor rotates around a giant circle, and depending on the song, it will vary in difficulty. Hit the note directly and you’ll get a green smiley face, get marginally close and it’s a yellow face, miss it completely and it’s red, the only thing it’s missing is a color for when you completely lose interest and stop playing.

For the most part American Idol pulls off this split-second timing thing pretty well, offering fairly responsive that feels just as good as any rhythm game on the consoles. The problem is that you are required to push buttons off the beat, and it rarely feels like what you are pressing has any connection to what you’re looking at and listening to. In fact, there are entire sections of the song where you’re pushing buttons, but nobody is singing. The effect is a little disconcerting, but nothing you can’t work through. It seems like such a basic thing in this type of game, though.

Much like the wildly popular television show, this American Idol game let’s you start at the bottom and go through the audition phase, which saves you the time, trouble, and embarrassment of standing in line for three days to be shot down by Simon, Paula, and that other guy. If you impress the judges, it’s off to experience the week-by-week struggle of a television show. Depending on how well you play, you will eventually make it to the final few, and ultimately strive to be this year’s American Idol. And what do you get if you win? Well … nothing, but at least you know your fingers have the stuff to be a world famous artist.

Although Simon has a reputation for being brutally honest to just about everybody he meets, he’s oddly upbeat in this game. You really have to blow it for him to lash out at you, thanks to the extremely lenient difficulty. And when he is himself, sucking your soul to live, he only has a couple cliché lines that get old very quickly.

If you get bored of playing the game yourself you can actually watch your competition’s performances. Since the game itself is pretty painful to play, you can imagine how much fun it is to just watch it. I suppose this isn’t a terrible idea, but I don’t ever want to meet the kind of person that would actually watch these replays just for the fun of it.
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