With Konami's Karaoke Revolution series ignoring hip-hop completely, it seems like a perfectly natural progression for someone else to try to step in and fill the void. That's what Eidos and developer A2M have done with their new "rapaoke" game, Get On Da Mic. While the concept behind Get On Da Mic is a sound one, a series of design and technical flaws makes the game more frustrating than fun.
The performers that provided the soundalike versions of the game's tracks did a pretty poor job.
Get On Da Mic has a collection of 40 songs that span the history of hip-hop, going all the way back to the Sugarhill Gang's pioneering song "Rapper's Delight" and then shooting forward in time to include songs like Lil' Flip's "Game Over" and J-Kwon's "Tipsy." Other hits, such as "Posse on Broadway," "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang," "Gin and Juice," "The Humpty Dance," "Push It," and "Hypnotize" are also included. Of course, in standard karaoke fashion, the songs aren't performed by the original artists. And that's where the game's first problem comes in.
Get On Da Mic judges your performance by how well you can fit your rapping to the rapping recorded in the song. Unfortunately, Get On Da Mic uses the rapping from the game's rerecorded songs, which are oftentimes different from the original recordings--going so far as to actually get some of the songs' words wrong. The game doesn't really judge what you're saying, because it can only detect your cadence. But when a song like NWA's "Express Yourself" actually inserts an extra word into one line, it's extremely disappointing, because the game essentially forces you to learn these new versions of its songs to succeed on the higher difficulty settings. On top of that, the decision-making that went into determining which lines were to be said by the player and which would be handled by the in-game backup lyricist is totally random. For example, when performing the "made famous by DMX" song, "X Gon' Give It To Ya," you don't get to perform the chorus, which is probably the best part of the entire song. Yet in "California Love," the game expects you to fill in every single "uh huh" and "yeah" at the end of the song, and you have to do it at the right moment, which is practically impossible if you don't already know when to come in.
Also on the disappointing side are the versions of the songs used as the bases for these new rerecordings. For the most part, censored album versions of the songs were used, but in a few cases--like with "Wit Dre Day," "X Gon' Give It To Ya, and "Gin and Juice"--the radio edits were used. Considering the game's lyricists simply don't say any of the objectionable words in the songs, and since the onscreen lyric display obscures curse words with pound signs, there's no real excuse for using any radio edits. Beyond that, it's a little strange to see this game receive a "T" rating and then basically ask you to decode obscured curse words such as "n#####," "motherf#####," and "d###."
Wait... "D###"? That's "dope" for those of you who couldn't figure it out. The game does its best to obscure any pro-drug references. However, its censorship isn't uniform in the least. It's also often incorrect. NWA's lone radio-friendly single, "Express Yourself," is the most blatant case of this. The line "Add it on a dope beat" has its reference to "dope" changed to "d###," even though the term in question doesn't have anything to do with drugs whatsoever. Meanwhile, later on in the song, the line "I don't smoke weed or cess" comes through loud and clear. In the Dr. Dre hit, "Next Episode," the part at the end of the song where you'd expect a faux Nate Dogg to croon "smoke weed every day" is cut entirely. Though some might find it admirable that the game makes a point to get across an antidrug message by blocking out all the pro-drug or pro-violence banter, the game's poor judgment calls and failures to recognize nondrug references--as opposed to urban, hip-hop "street" lingo--discredit and devalue Get On Da Mic. Moreover, in a game that requires you to already be very familiar with the subject matter at hand to effectively play, the songs here significantly differ from their originals, which further serves as the game's death knell.