Tagged: karaoke

An update on Karaoke @ DAM for Japan’s Xbox One

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The post I made about Karaoke @ DAM for the Japanese Xbox One last July continues to get traffic so I thought I’d write an update. To promote the service Microsoft and Daiichikosho roped in prolific enka singer, Sachiko Kobayashi, and had her train up on the decidedly-not-enka rock song ‘One Night Carnival’ by Kishidan. The results are tremendous.

As for the “game” itself, I can confirm it’s pretty easy to switch your Xbox One’s location and download the app. Unfortunately you’ll quickly be confronted with a notice that “communication with the center system could not be sure”, according to Google Translate. I take this to mean it won’t connect to the server from outside of Japan but it could be because I don’t have one of Hori’s generic USB microphones. According to the Karaoke @ DAM page it seems no other headset or microphone will be tolerated. I was so close! I’m sure there’s some way to tunnel or proxy the Xbox One traffic so it looks like I’m in Japan but I’ll leave that work up to someone else.

Once you are properly signed in it looks like you can peruse and preview the entire catalog of songs for free. With plans to add 200 new tracks every week since launch that should give you around 102,000 songs to choose from. Got your VPN tunnel, Hori mic and a list of J-Pop songs you have memorized? Now you’re ready to pay. The rates still stand at a reasonable $3 for 24 hours of access or $10 for 30 days. DAM branded Microsoft Points cards are available at retailers in Japan as well. And at least for a limited time, that Hori microphone comes with a free 30 days of access.

That’s a lot of hoops to jump through to sing karaoke on your Xbox One and nab some Japanese Achievements. But until Microsoft gives the English speaking world a similar product (and with the death of Karaoke on Xbox 360) this is the only option we’ve got.

I’m going to keep trying to get on so I hope to be back with another update at some point. In the meantime, here’s some higher quality screens I grabbed from the Xbox One.

Xbox One gets ‘Karaoke @ DAM’ service in Japan [UPDATE]

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UPDATED 01/22/15: I’ve done some digging, found out how to download the app myself and took some much higher quality screenshots. Check it out here!

Original Post: While I continue to wait for an Xbox One version of the 360’s Karaoke game, the new console will launch in Japan this September with a sing-along service in tow. ‘Karaoke @ DAM’ will provide an initial selection of 100,000 songs and corresponding HD videos with 200 new tracks delivered each week. A SingStar-esque scoring system called “Precision Scoring DX” is promised and videos of your performance can be recorded with Kinect. There’s even a SmartGlass app that can be used to queue up songs and playlists.

Rates start at an appreciably modest $3 for 24 hours of access or $10 for 30 days. Karaoke @ DAM sounds like some cheap fun but it sure could use a redesign based on these very tiny screenshots. Come on Microsoft, get The Karaoke Channel and iNiS on the ball and bring that Avatar-powered Karaoke to the Xbox One already!

Now Playing: Karaoke (Xbox 360)

I’m no Pavoratti but I’ve been known to belt out a decent ‘New York, New York’ without much hesitation and as a fan of video games I’ve enjoyed watching karaoke games evolve. I got into Karaoke Revolution on PlayStation 2, dueted alongside Katy in SingStar and loved tambourine tapping while singing in Lips. Those games were fun but we always got tired of singing the same handful of favorites and never getting into the unfamiliar songs. Downloadable tracks are nice but they never seem to come out frequently enough to bother loading up the games again.

That’s one of the reasons I was excited to try out Microsoft’s latest stab at karaoke, the free app simply called, Karaoke. Developer iNiS has teamed up with The Karaoke Channel to offer a library of over 8,000 songs to sing with new additions and even free tracks rotated in daily. There’s no marketplace to fumble through or downloads to queue up because all the songs are streamed as you choose them. That leads to the other interesting aspect of Karaoke: how you pay.

Rather than charging per song or for “track packs” in Karaoke you pay for hourly chunks of time like you might at an actual karaoke bar. The cheapest is a two-hour block that costs 240 Microsoft Points ($3.00) with stops at 6 ($5) and 24 hours ($10). This gives you immediate access to every song in the catalog and even on our mid-range consumer internet it never felt like we were wasting our time waiting for things to load.

The tablet interface takes up more space to accommodate big meaty fingers

The search function works well with a snappy auto-complete that starts showing you songs and artists right away. The catalog is also pretty easy to browse through with categories for genres, latest additions and Top 100. Even better, all of this can be accessed on-screen while someone is singing and all songs get plopped into a queue that you can jump into from almost anywhere. Using a controller works fine but Karaoke is one place where Xbox SmartGlass really shines.

It’s a little clunky on our first gen iPad but the whole catalog can be navigated and songs added to the queue with a couple of taps. You can also view the lyrics to brush up on ‘It’s the End of the World as We know it’ before it starts. There aren’t as many sub-categories on the app as in the game but being able to dig into the catalog while one of us was singing maximized our time and money.

A few things we discovered worth pointing out. The time you buy is always counting down so be ready to sing for at least two hours or lose some minutes. Also, you can’t slide in one more five minute ballad if you don’t have five minutes of time left. Fortunately the catalog contains several TV theme songs perfect to keep in your queue for those last few minutes.

The game interface’s auto-complete in action

Playing the game is just as easy as finding a song to sing. Any of the fancy voice analysis the game might be scoring you on has been hidden leaving you to focus on the big, bold lyrics on screen. There are no pitch-matching cursors or fancy interface stuff here. There also aren’t HD music videos or peculiar karaoke stock footage which may be a bummer to some. Instead, the background is filled with a lively Avatar performance that grows as you continue performing. Keeping things simple has also ruled out multi-user support so only the paying player’s Avatar will put on a show or earn progress.

That’s right, Karaoke has a leveling system (and Achievements and Leaderboards) to keep you coming back. Each song you finish awards you with both Fans and Moola which unlock random new items to spruce up your stage and boost your level progress. You’re never playing roadie and placing individual items on a stage, it’s just to keep things looking different as you continue playing. Karaoke also uses Kinect for mid-song pose matching but we didn’t try that.

Paying for play time may seem gross but consider that a modern, disc-based karaoke game costs around $20 and only packs a couple dozen songs. For a fraction of that Karaoke offers hundreds of times the music with nothing to go out and buy unless you don’t already own a pile of Xbox headsets or mics. We wound up having a lot of fun combing through the catalog and singing ourselves hoarse. For $3 it’s probably the most value and instant satisfaction I’ve ever gotten from a music game.

An Evening with Lifeline

Friday night we started out playing Dance on Broadway that Katy and I were genuinely interested in but after it wound up being a big bummer we worked our way back through Karaoke Revolution on PlayStation 2 and I somehow ended up finally playing 2004’s Lifeline for the very first time. Watch a good half hour’s worth of early game madness as I try to tell a space waitress how to shoot poop slugs with a handgun. I’d really like to play more of this some day… when there aren’t any other games left to play. That includes N3II.

Ultrastar brings free open source Singstar experience to your PC

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I don’t think I’ll be submerging myself in it any time soon but I have to post about Ultrastar Deluxe because it reminds me of my younger years spent with homebrew stuff like Kick it Up and Stepmania. It was an age when communities came together and totally free software did amazing things in an effort to subvert “the man” and bring every iteration of Pump it Up and Dance Dance Revolution into one (or two) amazing, all-encompassing packages.

Ultrastar is trying to do the same thing for Sony’s SingStar, recrating the interface and giving it a serious feature boost by way of an open source engine that allows up to six singers at once and an editor to import and synch up lyrics to just about any MP3 you throw at it. Of course, hosting all the official SingStar songs is a little too shady for Ultrastar to endorse themselves so you’ll have to go digging through their community for FTP or IRC or BBS links (that’s what you kids use these days right?), but the site does offer several Creative Commons licensed songs complete with music videos.

With people getting into Home Theatre PCs and inter-household network streaming, Ultrastar could prove to be a huge hit in the coming years, but that’s probably about when they’ll be sued out of existence. Check it out now party people and keep those install files backed up!