Famicom World


Everywhere in Japan in the ’80s and ’90s were karaoke clubs. So, it’s not surprising that one enterprising game developer decided to create a karaoke game.

Bandai’s Karaoke Studio is pretty much what you’d expect. There are about 25 songs programmed into the “Studio” from which gamers can choose. (The only one that will be familiar is “Jingle Bells,” but even it’s got Japanese lyrics). Gamers sing along and watch a cheesy video that shows on the TV screen. The video is up to par with the videos you see on real Asian karaoke machines. Basically, the video is random images that try to follow the storyline or imagery of the song.

Gamers have four options to choose from for the Studio, but they all utilize the same songs. They are:

1) Lesson — just singing your favorite songs and practicing for the big meet;

2) Competition — where there is a panel of three judges, American Idol style maybe, listening along and giving you a score at the end. (It’s possible to get a passing score singing “Jingle Bells” in English, so you might be able to sing anything so long as it’s in time with the melody.);

3) Super Star — another competition where you try to be superstar; and,

4) Game Show — where you are supposed to recognize a song within a few seconds, buzz in, and pick which song it was.

If you like karaoke, you’ll like this since, well, it’s karaoke and it’s fun to try out. But unless you know Japanese songs, you’ll have to humor yourself singing “Jingle Bells” over and over again, which will seriously affect the game’s replay value, though later games releases — Karaoke Studio: Top Hits 20, Vol. 1 and Karaoke Studio: Top Hits 20, Vol. 2 — added songs to the system.

This is a good way to practice Hiragana reading skills, trying to keep up with the song, all while trying to keep the melody.

Overall, it’s more of a cultural collector’s item, showcasing Japanese culture and how they tried to tie in the great karaoke pastime with the new technology and popularity of the Famicom. And, you’ve gotta love that girl on the box!

The microphone and adaptor.

Look at how much fun the young Japanese girl is having!

The songs included with the Karaoke Studio are in Japanese.

What the Karaoke Studio looks like complete.

The microphone and adaptor in the styrofoam.