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Since the concept of the Bemani game was first invented, we've had machines assess our ability to dance, drum, rap, DJ, and even play guitar. Considering the Japanese businessman's (and others) love for karaoke, it was only a matter of time before some company or other was to get us warbling along to our favourite pop hits. And then two come along at the same time...So not only do we now have Sony's own SingStar karaoke affair, but boss of Bemani Konami has also entered the fray with a spin-off from its Dancing Stage series, the aptly-titled Karaoke Stage.
Rather impressively, the game continues the tradition of Konami's Bemani collection in the fact that, rather than just simply turning your PS2 into a karaoke machine, it actually judges you on your ability to sing, which is obviously something you need to perfect in order to progress through the game. It does this via some rather nifty voice recognition software developed by the music loving Harmonix (the developer responsible for the likes of Frequency and Amplitude) which actually gauges both your pitch and rhythm as you sing along.
The game itself sees your custom character dancing on stage and singing to the crowd, as the lyrics to each song and the length of each note are detailed at the bottom of the screen. As you sing along into your USB microphone, the game assesses your accuracy and subsequently gives you a rating, which can result in anything from 'poor' to 'great'. The audience is also quick to offer an opinion of your performance, with the on-screen crowds drifting away if you fail to impress or, alternatively, going wild in appreciation of a real star.
As you'd expect, Karaoke Stage comes complete with a huge array of tracks, spanning everything from rock, through classic ballads, to pop and R n B. As such, you can expect to be crooning along to karaoke classics such as 'Wind Beneath My Wings' and 'Girls Just Want to Have Fun', as well as modern day hits from the likes of REM, Avril Lavigne and Barenaked Ladies.
Karaoke Stage is what all you would-be Pop Idols have been waiting for, so it's time to ditch the hairbrush and pick up a USB microphone, as the next star could be you. After all, if Gareth Gates can do it, anyone can!
Oh, wait a minute, hasn't he just been dropped by his record label? Shame...