Karaoke Revolution and its sequels are video games for the PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, GameCube, Wii, Xbox, and Xbox 360, developed by Harmonix and Blitz Games and published by Konami in its Bemani line of music games. The Original Concept for Karaoke Revolution was created by Scott Hawkins and Sneaky Rabbit Studios. Technology and concepts from the game were subsequently incorporated into Harmonix’s game Rock Band.
The Japanese versions of the game are developed by Konami themselves. The gameplay also differs significantly. Rather than a game per se, it is merely a karaoke system for the PlayStation 2, with no judgments.
The game does not attempt to understand the singer’s words, but instead detects their pitch. As such, singers can hum to a song or sing different lyrics without penalty. The game adapts to the player singing in a different octave than the song, to accommodate players whose vocal ranges do not fit the song.
The songs in the game are covers of pop hits frequently sung in karaoke bars. This contrasts with the SingStar series from Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, which features only original artist recordings along with the music videos. However, the 2009 remake of the game (titled Karaoke Revolution, just like the original) features all master tracks.
The player is depicted as a character on-screen performing at a public location. The words to the song scroll bottom to top at the bottom of the screen, above a piano roll representation of the relative pitches at which they are to be sung (the game calls these “note tubes”). At the left end of this area, a “pitch star” shows the pitch which the player is singing and provides feedback on whether they’re hitting the notes. A “crowd meter” shows the mood of the crowd as the player sings; if they do a good job of hitting notes on-pitch then the crowd will cheer more loudly and clap in rhythm with the song, and the scene will become more vividly animated. If the crowd meter falls all the way to the lowest rating, the audience will boo the character off-stage and the game is over.
Each song is divided into approximately 30 to 50 “phrases”. A meter will fill up and turn from red to green for each phrase, based on how well the player sings the right notes; if the player can fill the meter to green, they will score more points, and getting several greens in a row will create a “combo” and award a 2x score multiplier until the player fails to make green on another phrase. This blue meter resembles how long you should hold the note for and at what pitch. The game can be set at higher difficulties which make this meter larger and require the player to hit the right notes more precisely to fill it to green.
Since maximum scores for each song are normalized 50,000 regardless of difficulty, overall scores on songs can be compared. To achieve the gold record for a song, 12,500 points must be achieved. To achieve the platinum record for a song, 20,000 points must be achieved. Winning records will unlock additional characters, outfits, and songs. In Karaoke Revolution Party, Karaoke Revolution Country, Karaoke Revolution Presents: American Idol, and American Idol Encore, 50,000 points (a perfect score) earns a diamond record. In Karaoke Revolution Presents: American Idol Encore 2 the point system was changed so that 60,000 points gives a platinum record for a song and 100,000 points is a perfect score (diamond record).
Karaoke Revolution Volume 2 introduces a “medley mode” which challenges the player to sing a string of short clips from various songs.
Karaoke Revolution Volume 3 introduces “duet mode” which lets two singers play simultaneously. It also revised scoring so that perfect performances result in exactly 50,000 points (with the exception of the Jackson 5’s “ABC”).
Karaoke Revolution Presents: American Idol utilizes American Idol judges, commentary, and stages.