Karaoke is a free downloadable title available on the Xbox Live Marketplace that grants users access to a library of over 8,000 songs maintained by The Karaoke Channel. An Xbox 360 headset, USB microphone or Lips microphone is required to sing and Kinect is also supported for pose matching and score bonuses. A levelling system encourages players to keep singing, awarding both Fans and Moola to unlock bonuses, random stage items and new venues which themselves add more score bonuses.
Playing for Free
Five songs are provided for free and are changed on a daily basis (usually based around a theme or holiday) to give players a chance to try the game. This is essentially a demo of the game but level progress can still be made and Achievements are even awarded for playing a certain number of free songs.
Sponsors can also pay to feature their own logo, stage and song in the game which can be played for free. Playing these songs can unlock a score bonus to be used during other songs. At launch State Farm was the featured sponsor with the song ‘Like a Good Neighbor’.
Rather than buying individual songs or “track packs” from a cumbersome and sprawling marketplace interface, accessing Karaoke’s full library of songs requires a Karaoke Pass. Much like a real karaoke bar, the pass grants access to the catalog in hourly chunks. The smallest allotment is two hours which costs 240 Microsoft Points ($3) with stops at six hours ($5) and twenty-four hours ($10). All songs are streamed as they start so there’s no worry about hard drive space or downloads.
Once a pass is purchased a timer can be found throughout the game counting down the minutes remaining. These minutes don’t stop if you leave the game and as you near the limit you will be prompted after most songs to add more time. It is not possible to queue up a song that is longer than the time remaining on a Karaoke Pass.
Music Catalog and Interface
The in-game interface allows users to search for songs with an auto-complete function that shows results for both artist and song title. Browsing allows users to peruse numerous genres including sub-categories like ‘70’s Classic Rock’. A Top 100 category allows quick access to new and popular songs. Once a desired song is found it can be added to a favorites list, you can look over the lyrics or add it to the song queue. The entire catalog/search/queue interface can be accessed at any time, even while singing, across the top of the screen.
Launching the SmartGlass app on a supported tablet or smartphone will load the Karaoke Remote interface. This allows a user to search and browse the catalog (though with limited genres), view lyrics and add songs to the queue without having to look at the TV or use an Xbox 360 controller.