Regular readers know how much I love my music games, so I was curious to hear that a karaoke app was going to be released on Xbox LIVE. I was less enthused to find out that instead of buying songs, you would essentially be renting them for a time. But after downloading the free app and firing it up, I think I may be persuaded to shell out the duckets... eventually.
Karaoke kind of snagged my attention when the opening logos were appearing and I saw iNiS, who created my all-time favorite sing-along videogame series, Lips. So as soon as I glimpsed their logo, I was more interested. Basically, its a free download, and then you purchase time to sing from a library of over 8,000 songs in every genre you could possibly imagine. You purchase a Karaoke Pass in different time allotments. For $3, you get two hours, for $5, you can have 6, and a 24-hour pass will cost you $10. So if you're having a party, you can drop $3 and sing karaoke for a couple hours. And you can sing whatever you want as often as you want within your time limit. As a bonus a small number of free songs will be made available, and the game claims they change daily. Today when I tried it out, I enjoyed singing along to "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" and "It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas."
Your Avatar sings on a small stage in front of a small crowd, but as you perform, you gain more fans and earn moola that your manager uses to buy additional equipment and props to help you achieve more fame. The lyrics appear on screen in the center, highlighting in a different color as you're meant to sing them. There doesn't appear to be any kind of scoring system like Lips or SingStar. You can sing as badly as you want, and still earn fans, it seems! Oh, and you can also shut off the lead vocal to sing pure karaoke, or leave it on if you're not confident enough. There is also a Kinect component where you can earn bonus fans by matching the pose your Avatar makes. Presumably, if you don't have a Kinect, it will just skip that part. You can use your Xbox headset mic, a USB microphone, or wireless ones like the Lips ones I still use all the time. Also, while browsing the library, I saw some songs with a double mic icon, so it seems there's also two-player duets.
The sheer variety of songs to sing is the real draw of Karaoke. And you don't have to wait for them to download, because after you select one, it automatically streams to your Xbox and starts playing. You can also apparently browse the library and queue up songs using the SmartGlass app on your tablet/phone, but I haven't tried that out yet. I'm a little concerned that those $3 two-hour sessions will eventually add up, but I know that eventually the free songs aren't going to be enough and I'm going to want to spread my wings and fly!