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 an episode. Perhaps they're right. I keep trying to get around to it, but something always seems to come up. Naps, for instance.
I've recently been forced to endure — no, wait, I've 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.
This was undoubtedly a formidable holiday gift product. Some of you probably have it right now. (It's okay. You can admit it.) The game has been flying off shelves, and online resellers were at one time even jacking up the $60.00 list price.
I figure there are two types of people who might now be facing the prospect of playing this game over New Year's, or while snowed in, or while pondering resolutions for 2011: Gleeks who got the game over the holidays, and friends/family of those who did. The relevant question for either group – 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 this 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."
Was I good? Well, I scored okay 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 prefer post-apocalyptic scenarios and insanely complex collectible card games. But I am convinced this will probably please gamer Gleeks, karaoke fans, or anyone else prone to singing aloud around the house. You know who you are.