For all you amateur singers thinking "I can do that!" every time you watch "American Idol," here's your chance to show your stuff — or at least get personally berated by Simon Cowell.
"Karaoke Revolution Presents: American Idol Encore" for the Wii (Konami, $59.99 with USB microphone) puts the mic in players' hands and challenges them to stay in tune while singing 40 hits from various decades.
In the main mode, users pick a character and an outfit and select how many songs they want to sing during their quest for stardom.
Nail the audition and the judges will send you off to Hollywood.
Bomb, and Randy Jackson will be waving his arms to cut you off: "OK, that's enough. I can't take any more of this."
The karaoke interface is relatively easy to follow, but songs are a lot easier to sing correctly if you're at least familiar with them.
Notes are represented by blue tubes that scroll left-to-right across the screen. The length of each tube indicates how long to hold a note, and its position on the staff represents the pitch.
Your job is to keep the flying triangle — which resembles the ship from the arcade classic "Asteroids" — on each scrolling tube.
That's accomplished by singing on key, which gets more difficult as you move up to "expert" level.
Songs are broken up into "phrases," or collections of several measures, and you're judged on each phrase separately. The phrase scores are then totaled into a final score.
The game is most enjoyable when you simply sing and then hear the reactions of the judges.
Like the show, Paula Abdul will find a compliment or two for even the most horrendous performance, and Simon is well prepared with a cadre of insulting one-liners: "That was the vocal equivalent of three days in bed with the flu, because both make me feel sick."
But single-player mode loses its luster as you move deeper into each Idol competition.
While the show rides the drama of seeing who stays and who's eliminated, the game at each stage simply shows a list of faceless opponents and then scratches a few off the list.
By never hearing your virtual opponents perform, the competition becomes a one-person event, and that doesn't capture the allure of the franchise.
Adding a second USB mic lets players square off in battle mode or sing together in duet mode. But the Wii version offers no online play, which would go a long way toward helping the game feel more like a human competition.
It'd also be nice to be able customize the look of your character instead of having to choose from a standard set.
If you're just looking to sing, the game offers a decent set of tunes and the interface works well. But it's probably best played with others as a party game.
"Karaoke Revolution Presents: American Idol Encore" is also available for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 ($69.99).
Two-and-a-half out of four stars.