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September 2, 2004
Karaoke Stage - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Anticipation Players Price

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Sending the crowd wild.
Sony's Sing Star is one of the biggest surprise hits on the Playstation 2. Along with Eye Toy: Play it has become the party game of choice. Being able to bash out a few songs with some mates is tremendous fun, and it was never going to remain Sony only. Indeed Konami, who are behind the ever popular dancing games such as Dance Dance Revolution, are about to release their own karaoke game, Karaoke Stage. This game looks set to have people singing again through their TV sets and while it has some disadvantages over Sony's game, it also have several advantages.

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It's the end of the world...
Let's start with the good parts. The biggest advantage to this game is the song list. While not officially confirmed it is believed that this game will have 54 songs from the 70's, 80's, 90's and today. Compare that to Sing Star which only has 30 songs and you'll see there should be quite a bit of longevity to this game. The PAL version will also include four tracks not found in the NTSC version. Some of the artists who have provided music for the game include Avril Lavigne, Barenaked Ladies, Michael Jackson, Madonna and REM. It really is an impressive list and of course other classic karaoke tracks such as Wind Beneath My Wings (*shudder*) and Girls Just Want to Have Fun will be included in the game.

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Ermm... character select screen.
In case you are unaware this game is essentialy a sing-along to the music type affair. The lyrics appear along the bottom of the screen and an indicator tells you how well you are singing, in time and pitch. You will also be able to select your on screen character - rather basic but better then nothing I guess.

Now I also mentioned that in some regards Karaoke Stage won't be as good as Sing Star and the reason for this is that the game doesn't use the original tracks, but rather instrumental versions of the tracks. From what I have heard they are still quite impressive renditions and more then acceptable to sing along to. Also missing is support for the Eye Toy, so you can't create mini video clips while singing. Also the game will not include a 2-player simultaneous mode, however seeing as Sing Star didn't really split up the voices effectively either this isn't really going to be missed.

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Michael Jackson's Billie Jean.
The input device for this game is still somewhat up in the air. The game will not support the Sing Star microphones, and the press releases seem to indicate that that game will use the USB headset and microphone however Atari Australia have indicated the game will come with a different USB Microphone set. Time will tell, but it would certainly be a bit more realistic, and probably fun, singing into a microphone rather then the USB Headset.

Developers Harmonix, who also developed the music based games Frequency and Amplitude certainly look to have created a fun title. Expect a release in late October.