Let me step back a moment and explain the game play parts of Karaoke Revolution Presents: American Idol. First you need to make sure that you have a microphone for your PS2, so I suggest strongly that you buy the game with the microphone. It is sold without it, but finding one for sale separate from the game was a real challenge for me. The game also has Eye Toy support, which made it much more fun. You can use Eye Toy to put your own face onto the contestant models, and some of the backgrounds also have active Eye Toy support. My whole family has enjoyed being one another's biggest fans, dancing and singing along in the background while one of us sings and having it show up on the big screen behind the singer. The game comes with forty songs that range from classics like Piano Man, to more modern hits such as Stickwitu. They are all songs that can be sung, with real a real melody and lyrics, so if you're looking for a game to be rapping along, you'll have to look elsewhere. But if you keep in mind the sorts of style of songs that most contestants will pick, then you'll have a good idea of what is available on the song list.
You can play the game in either single player or multiplayer mode. In single player mode, you can just sing your favorite song in Quick Play mode, or you can enter the competition. In either case, you are scored by the judges at the end of your song. Scoring is based on how close you are to the correct pitch, holding notes through the whole length of the “note tube”, and singing the proper word at the proper time. Note tubes represent how long a note should be held on the music staff as it, and the words, scroll across the bottom of the screen. The pitch arrow indicates where you are singing compared to where the pitch should be. There's a line running along the music staff that indicates where your pitch should be rather than telling you a specific note, so no skill in being able to read music is required. The other thing we've noticed is that you can adjust the range you're singing in up or down an octave compared to where the game vocalist is singing if you need to so that the song is closer to your vocal ability. You can set how strict the judges are before you start singing, so they'll be more forgiving if you set judging to easy than if you picked medium or hard setting. As you are singing, your goal is to do well enough for long enough stretches to raise the Phrase Meter. The songs are broken into phrases based on the lyrics of the song, and you're scored at the end of each phrase for accuracy. The Phrase Bar fills as you complete these phrases well, and your overall score increases based on if you did lousy, poor, okay, good or great according to the judges. If you manage to get a “good” or “great” rating three times in a row, you'll complete a combo. This increases how many points you get in future phrases for “good” or “great” ratings, and can really boost your score quickly. And you can shoot for perfect combos if you're really good. Get a “great” rating on every phrase in the song, and you'll have a perfect combo and earn a diamond record. The Crowd Meter will also start to increase as you do better with these phrases. This represents how excited the crowd is by your performance, and it really does help to hear them cheering you on. If you can pin the Crowd Meter up into green, then each score you get will be doubled for the remainder of the song. On the other hand, if you continue to perform poorly, getting poor or lousy ratings, the Crowd Meter will drop and you can be booted off the stage. Not that this has happened to me, of course. But I read that it could to some. At the end of the song your score is displayed, and if you've done well enough you might earn a Gold or Platinum Record.
As I mentioned, you can enter contest mode and simulate competing just like the real contestants do. You can pick from a short (8 rounds), medium (13 rounds), or full (18 rounds like the real contestants) contest, and adjust the same settings as you would in a quick play game. You select your song, but note that songs are removed from the available list as you do them, and the judging does get more critical as the contest goes on. You really will want to save your best song for last, in other words. I've played the 18 round contest once, and was eliminated with just five rounds to go. Pretty good for someone who really is just an armchair contestant.
The multiplayer contest is a bit different. Here you can set the game to have anywhere from two to eight players, and whether you want virtual contestant or not. You can also toggle elimination off so that everyone can make it to the final round without being eliminated, and it is your overall score at the end that determines who the winner is. And if you really want to challenge one another, let the songs be chosen at random, either for just the final song of the competition or all songs. And let me tell you, the judges are TOUGH when judging one human player against one another. But this is where the game also gets to be a ton of fun, too. This is one of those great party games where you get a group of your friends together and just laugh together in between songs. If you don't want to do a full contest in multiplayer, you can also play in quickplay mode, picking between Arcade, Medley, or KR Challenge with one mic party. In Arcade mode, you're singing the pre-made songs. In Medley, you customize and sing your own song medleys. KR Challenge is our favorite mode to compete in my family. This is a mixture of Arcade and Medley modes and makes for a real challenge because you never are quite sure what you're going to get. It keeps you on your toes, that's for sure.
If you have two microphones for your PS2, you can also play in Two Mic Party mode. We haven't experienced that in our family, but reading about it in the directions sounds like the second microphone is probably worth it. You can play in Duet mode you sing together as a team trying to score, sometimes with one player singing harmony to the others melody. In Knock Out mode, two players compete against one another on the same song, trying to outscore one another. There's also Sing Off mode where you alternate singing verses, but sing together on the chorus.
I admit that this is one of my favorite games for the Playstation 2. I'll play it when my kids are at school, or we'll launch it in the evening and play together. The only thing I wish is that the game came with more songs, but I'm sure space became a problem with trying to squeeze everything they did on to the disc in the first place. If you're a fan of the show American Idol and own a PS2, this game should be on your must buy list. The replayability of the game is endless despite the limited song list because it is such a fun party game. And, really, it is the safest way to be able to prove that you really would have lasted longer than that contestant from each season that you wonder how they made it as far as they did.
The “glory days” of computer gaming for me were when games like Spectre Supreme, Pirate’s Gold, the Might and Magic series, the original Prince of Persia… those sorts of games were coming out on a regular basis. Back then I owned a Macintosh and was a die hard Mac fan. I was one of the first in my area to buy an iMac and on it learned the joy of playing games on the internet like daily crossword puzzle and “mind bender” type puzzles. My first online RPG was given to me for Christmas the year EQ was released, and I was hooked from day one. I played EQ for about a year. I started playing DaoC during late alpha testing, and was hooked on it.. well, to be honest I still am. I’ve tried pretty much every MMORPG I can get my hands on, from big names like EQ, to more obscure ones such as Underlight. I’ve been writing for IMGS since the first DaoC guide, and find I love the challenge of learning a game and presenting what I’ve learned (and sometimes my opinions), to other players.
I’m not a very strong player as far as learning PvE or quick reaction times, so I tend to stay away from games where I’m pitted against someone else in a way that requires physical (rather than mental) response. I still enjoy story and puzzle games, and in a way that’s how I still approach online games. I would much rather spend hours working through a quest than 5 minutes in combat against another player. I still get lost in simulation type games, obsessing over them until I’ve gotten them beaten. And I like being able to sit down at the computer when I’ve got less than half an hour and playing through a few levels of a puzzle game. I tend not to like first-person shooter type games, or anything with person to person violence, so I steer away from them unless they are fantasy based settings. All in all, I enjoy computer gaming so much that my life feels incomplete somehow when my computer is down.