Late last year when we weren’t looking, Microsoft added a free to download karaoke app onto Xbox Live dully titled Karaoke. If this isn’t a knee-jerk reaction to Sony making Singstar free on PSN, then we’d be very surprised. Still, it’s always nice to see something extra added to Xbox Live, and even more so when it costs precisely nothing.
The presentation isn’t going to win any awards – it’s functional at best, but you can at least use an Xbox 360 headset, which saves anybody without a microphone from having to buy one. There are a couple of nice touches too such as SmartGlass and Kinect support. With a Kinect connected every now and then you’re asked to perform a pose, which will net you some more fans if successful.
Gaining fans levels up your singer, and every time you rise up the ranks your manager provides something new, starting off with new stage lights and speakers. Unlike Rock Band and similar games, your singing is never rated. You do gain more fans for correct timing, but you’re never punished for singing out of tune. In our case this is most fortunate.
Being a free app there are micro-transactions in place. Passes can be purchased – starting at 240 MSP for two hours – that give access the full catalogue of 8,000 songs.
Cheapskates need not worry as every day there are different free songs that can be played as many times as you like. These freebies tend to be a mixture of new and old. At the time of typing, for instance, there are songs from The Killers, Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse and The Beach Boys. Occasionally a public domain song is thrown in to build up the numbers. We admit to cracking a smile when seeing ‘The Eentsy Weentsy Spider’ on the playlist in all its 26 second majesty.
The levelling up system and achievements, of which there are 30 to unlock, help to give the package a slight addictive streak that we weren’t expecting. If you have friends that enjoy showing off their singing skills, or even simply enjoy trying to sing, then Karaoke will no doubt make your next house party a memorable one.