Reviews

Karaoke Revolution Presents: American Idol Encore 2

The reality is that both American Idol and karaoke are conceptually voyeuristic endeavors for the audience. But for the participants, the competitiveness of a contest like American Idol doesn't necessarily translate.


Publisher: Konami
Genres: Music/rhythm, Multimedia
Price: $49.99
Multimedia: Karaoke Revolution Presents: American Idol Encore 2
Platforms: Wii (reviewed), Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Number of players: 1-8
ESRB rating: Everyone 10+
Developer: Blitz
US release date: 2008-11-18
Website
Amazon
Developer website

Konami's long running and prolific Bemani line of music games hardly needs third party branding to contribute to its success. Although much more of a force in Japanese arcades than at home, it has certainly had its victories in both locales. For home consoles in particular, the Karaoke Revolution games have been appearing in the United States since 2003 with numerous releases in the line. On the surface, the pairing of the American Idol label with that of Karaoke Revolution seems like a no-brainer, and indeed the first Karaoke Revolution title bearing that name was released in 2007, shortly before the show's sixth season.

It can be argued, however, that the very structure of American Idol distances it from Karaoke Revolution in very significant ways, particularly with whether or not it can be understood as a party game. The reality is that both American Idol and karaoke are conceptually voyeuristic endeavors for the audience. But for the participants, the competitiveness of a contest like American Idol doesn't necessarily translate. Without discussing its merits from a critical standpoint, American Idol is essentially a cross between a popularity contest, a talent show, and a form of musical chairs that ensures that there will be one less participant each week. Although the medium by which it determines success through is singing (a fact that has been explored by countless other elimination contest shows that focus on other talents), the very nature of this competitiveness does seem at odds with other music and rhythm party games, which have more recently focused on collaboration. Of course, this is not karaoke per say, and the traditional, goal-oriented nature of video games does help alleviate this concern, particularly since American Idol has a built in scoring system by way of the judges.

That being said, it seems that what's most important about a game bearing the American Idol brand and what separates it from any other karaoke game (Revolution or otherwise) is the quality of the presentation. Ideally, it should feel as though you are standing alone on the standard American Idol stage, working your way to the top. The songs you sing are supposed to be top 40 hits from the past several decades. You're supposed to be deified by Paula at the same time as you are being eviscerated by Simon. The game's success at presenting this illusion is mixed. From the onset, the limited character customization options make it difficult to feel as though you're really in the game. Although this is the first title in the series to feature Paula Abdul's voice and likeness, Ryan Seacrest has gone missing since the last title. Strange as it may seem to say so, Seacrest actually is a large part of the overall feel of American Idol, and his absence is noticed.

Although Encore 2 boasts among its improvements from its predecessor four all new venues, the reality of this concept seems fairly ridiculous. Once the contestants on American Idol start performing for live studio audiences, the lights and stage basically look the same no matter what venue they're technically in. As such, time might have been better spent refining the look and feel of the American Idol stage setup than in attempting to create markedly different stages.

As is the case with many sports franchises, namely those that see frequent iterations with modest but predictable updates, rhythm/music games are starting to seem like they would benefit from more robust downloadable content than actual new titles. What's unfortunate here is that the Wii version does not allow for any downloadable content, while the PS3 and 360 versions do. It's likely that this is more a limitation of the Wii Shop than anything, but it robs the franchise of some of the longevity it enjoys on the other systems. Simply put, if a consumer were to own either of the other consoles, purchasing this series for the Wii seems like a poor choice. Quite possibly, it won't take players long to tire of the 40 included tracks, particularly if there were a number that they didn't care for to begin with.

It's likely that most players to whom this game appeals will be able to look past these flaws, but since this is not the first title to marry the brands of Karaoke Revolution and American Idol, it is also possible that they might be burned out on the concept. This may be particularly true since the original Encore title appeared a scant nine months prior to this one. Since Idol itself is still something of a ratings juggernaut and since the basic game framework has been laid down, it seems that it would be quite simple for new iterations in this series to be regularly released. Hopefully as that happens, there will be more polish added in order to better take advantage of the American Idol license.

6

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Electronic music is one of the broadest-reaching genres by design, and 2017 highlights that as well as any other year on record. These are the 20 best albums.


20. Vitalic - Voyager (Citizen)

Pascal Arbez-Nicolas (a.k.a. Vitalic) made waves in the French Touch electro-house scene with his 2005 debut, OK Cowboy, which had a hard-hitting maximalist sound, but several albums later, Voyager finds him launching into realms beyond at his own speed. The quirky, wallflower vocals and guitar snippets employed throughout Voyager drop a funk that brings to mind WhoMadeWho or Matthew Dear if they had disco-pop injected between their toes. "Levitation" is as pure a slice of dance floor motivation as theoretically possible, a sci-fi gunfight with a cracking house beat sure to please his oldest fans, yet the album-as-form is equally effective in its more contemplative moments, like when Miss Kitten's vocals bring an ethereal dispassion to "Hans Is Driving" to balance out its somber vocoder or the heartfelt cover of "Don't Leave Me Now" by Supertramp. Voyager may infect you with a futuristic form of Saturday Night Fever, but afterwards, it gives you a hearty dose of aural acetaminophen to break it. - Alan Ranta


Keep reading... Show less
Film

Hitchcock, 'Psycho', and '78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene'

Alfred Hitchock and Janet Leigh on the set of Psycho (courtesy of Dogwoof)

"... [Psycho] broke every taboo you could possibly think of, it reinvented the language of film and revolutionised what you could do with a story on a very precise level. It also fundamentally and profoundly changed the ritual of movie going," says 78/52 director, Alexandre O. Philippe.

The title of Alexandre O. Philippe's 78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene (2017) denotes the 78 set-ups and the 52 cuts across a full week of shooting for Psycho's (1960) famous shower scene. Known for The People vs. George Lucas (2010), The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus (2012) and Doc of the Dead (2014), Philippe's exploration of a singular moment is a conversational one, featuring interviews with Walter Murch, Peter Bogdanovich, Guillermo del Toro, Jamie Lee Curtis, Osgood Perkins, Danny Elfman, Eli Roth, Elijah Wood, Bret Easton Ellis, Karyn Kusama, Neil Marshall, Richard Stanley and Marli Renfro, body double for Janet Leigh.

Keep reading... Show less

Rather than once again exploring the all-too-familiar territory of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Samantha Silva's debut novel contextualizes the work's origins and gets inside the mind of its creator.


Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol has been told and retold so many times over the years that, by this point, one might be hard-pressed to find a single soul evenly glancingly familiar with western culture who isn't at least tangentially acquainted with the holiday classic. This is, of course, a bit of holiday-themed hyperbole, but the fact remains that the basic premise of A Christmas Carol has become so engrained in our culture that it would seem near impossible to imagine a time prior to its existence. It's universally-relatable themes of the power of kindness, redemption and forgiveness speaks to the heart of the Christmas season – at least as it has been presented in the 174 years since it was first published in 19 December 1843 -- just in time for Christmas.

Keep reading... Show less
6

Following his excellent debut record Communion, Rabit further explores the most devastating aspects of its sound in his sophomore opus Les Fleurs du Mal.

Back in 2015 Rabit was unleashing Communion in the experimental electronic scene. Combining extreme avant-garde motifs with an industrial perspective on top of the grime sharpness, Eric C. Burton released one of the most interesting records of that year. Blurring lines between genres, displaying an aptitude for taking things to the edge and the fact that Burton was not afraid to embrace the chaos of his music made Communion such an enticing listen, and in turn set Rabit to be a "not to be missed" artist.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image