'Glee' on the Wii

by Glenn McDonald

18 January 2011

Video games and cross-promotional marketing yield the inevitable: console karaoke for Gleeks.
 

I’ve been assured, by every person in my family with a set of XX chromosomes, that I would love TV’s hit musical Glee if I just watched one episode. Perhaps they’re right. I keep trying to get around to it, but something always seems to come up. A nap, for instance.

I’ve recently been afforded the opportunity to engage with the show from a different vector, however. Karaoke Revolution Glee for the Wii is the latest from Konami’s long line of karaoke games for console systems. These games work like the various music/rhythm games such as Rock Band, etc., and in fact Konami pioneered a lot of the basic concepts and technology.

Instead of strumming or drumming, though, you sing along as with traditional karaoke, and the game tracks your accuracy in terms of pitch, rhythm and timing. And so the gods of cross promotion, in their infinite marketing wisdom, have given us this game title based on the TV show. It was inevitable, really.

Clearly, this is formidable pop culture alchemy. During the recent holiday shopping season, the game was flying off shelves and online resellers were jacking up the $60.00 list price – although that’s seemed to calm down in the last couple weeks.

The relevant question, as always: Is the game any good?

Within the scope of its genre and ambitions – sure, it is. Konami has basically patched its karaoke system atop videos and music – some new and exclusive – from the show’s first season. The side-scrolling game interface is on the bottom of the screen, with clips from the show in full-screen behind.

So basically you’re singing along with the cast recordings (not the original songs), and your performance is scored via the typical rhythm game mechanics. With Quickplay, you can jump straight to the songs and play Solo, Co-Op or Duet. (The game comes packaged with one microphone; you’ll need a second for multiplayer.)

Then you’ve got your Scrapbook mode, in which you adopt the character of a Glee cast member and work your way through relevant songs and challenges. You can play as Rachel, Finn, Artie, Tina, Kurt, Quinn, Puck, Will or Mercedes Rack up points and you earn items to customize your very own digital Glee Scrapbook. I trust that all makes sense to dedicated Glee people.

Finally, there are the songs. The game has most, but not all, of the popular routines from Season One – apparently some licensing issues could not be resolved in time. For the record, I sang my way through several scenarios, even returning for a few favorites including Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”, Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” and Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach”. (I refuse to apologize for my abiding appreciation of the works of Ms. Ciccone.)

Was I any good? Well, I scored OK on the easiest difficulty setting. But I also made sure no one else was in the house. And I closed the blinds. As past presidential administrations have taught us, it’s all about plausible deniability.

When it comes to gaming, I generally prefer zombies, race cars and insanely complex strategy games. I am convinced, however, that this is a good option for gamer Gleeks, karaoke fans, or anyone else prone to singing aloud around the house. You know who you are.

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