I have watched, with fascination, the Fox hit show, American Idol. More than anything I tune in to see the losers. I love watching when reality creeps onto the stage and confronts some of these no-talents live, in front of an entire nation. Granted, the top 10 are good singers. They have to be. At that point I don't really care much, I just love watching some of these amateurs' dreams get crushed and not just because I'm evil, far from it. It's because many of these contestants are nothing more than dreamers themselves. They can sing a little, but obviously are not of any great talent, yet they believe they are. Some of them don't even bother to take formal lessons as they think they're the cat's ass already. It's those egotists that I like to see stripped of their dignity. After all, they put themselves into that position in the first place. Ha ha.

American Idol, the game is really what I like to call a cash grab. It trades off the name of the series, and even features the likeness and comments of the judges Randy, Simon and Paula. In case you aren't familiar with the show, Simon is known for being very direct, even to the point of boorishness, which is fine with me. Paula never says anything interesting and Randy just basically takes up space as he peppers his critiques with what ever catchphrases are popular at that time. There are supposed to be 4000 recorded comments but I found them repeating statements in the first half-hour. If I were judging the judges on their acting abilities they wouldn't even be qualified to ask you, "Do want fries with that?" The voiceacting is terrible. I hate to say it but it's that Seacrest fellow that actually sounds the most natural.

The game is played as most rhythm/timing games are. Symbols onscreen that represent the face buttons on the controller, (square, triangle, circle, etc.) move up and down on lines that intersect in the middle to form a cross. The closer the symbol is to the middle of the cross when you hit the controller, the more accurate the singer will be in his or her performance. In other words, you do not do the performing. Failing to hit the buttons at the right time will cause the character that you're playing to sing off key and lose tempo. There is a dance pad so that you can feel like you're getting in on the action but it does little to offer any depth to the game. While the game can get more challenging later on, it's just a matter of increasing the speed and frequency of the symbols.

Creating your own singing sensation is about the only depth this game offers and that's not saying much. Pick out some freak, go to an audition and see how you do. You can practice without being judged in the rehearsal mode. If you make it to the finals on TV you'll have to dress up because you'll be judged on your looks. See, the public doesn't make things any less shallow even in reality. Songs are varied. There's a decent mixture of R&B and pop pap from the likes of Britney, Sheryl Crow, Al Green and Ricky Martin. You can even hear amateur version of these songs but why would you want to?

Graphically the game belies the gameplay. Little attention was paid to making it appear as anything more than a cartoonish novelty.

Ultimately American Idol is a shallow game. It's a novelty that will disappoint many in the long run. Rent it if you must but if you're really interested in timing-based game and karaoke you are advised to check out Konami's Karaoke Revolution and Dance Dance Revolution for the PS2. Both games are miles above this stinker.

System: PS2
Dev: Hothouse Creations
Pub: Codemasters
Released: Nov 2003
Review by Dan