Best known for its social music- and lyric-finding service, TuneWiki launched a new venture Tuesday in the form of a game with a slightly different take on music discovery. Lyric Legend is a free app that combines aspects of a karaoke and a rhythm game into one visually stimulating package. I downloaded the app onto an iPhone 3GS to give it a spin.
Upon starting, Lyric Legend automatically attempts to connect to a network in order to retrieve high-score and other social info, as well as upload your game data to the scoreboard. However, you don't need a connection to start playing the game, which means roving iPod Touch owners are in the clear. The first screen presents a number of straightforward options surrounded by an appropriate background graphic of thumping speakers. You can select from single or multiplayer gaming, step into a "how to play" tutorial, or enter the song store.
Those who have spent any time playing rhythm games will find the gameplay somewhat familiar. The lyrics for the song in play float on the screen within colorful balls; you want to hit the words of the song as it is being sung. The closer you get to hitting at the exact moment a word is said, the better your score. In beginner mode, the balls line up in order of the lyrics to make things easier, and rings around each one help to call out which is coming up next. For parts of the song with no words, TuneWiki has implemented a fun bonus round during which you tap glowing balls as they drop down.
As with any rhythm-based music game, Lyric Legend will take some practice before you get the hang of it. Further, unlike Guitar Hero and similar offerings, actually knowing the words to the song helps considerably. Luckily, Lyric Legend offers several levels of difficulty, from beginner to expert, so you'll have a chance to practice before moving up. As you step up in difficulty, the balls move around with varying frequency and--eventually--even the rings disappear.
As you might expect from a free app, Lyric Legend doesn't come loaded with very many games. You get three packaged with the download: Metric's "Gimme Sympathy," Vampire Weekend's "Giving Up the Gun," and The All-American Rejects' "Move Along." As of press time, TuneWiki was offering more than 70 other songs for purchase in the song store, most available in two-track artist "packs" for 99-cents.
All in all, I found Lyric Legend to be a fun and addictive game. Anyone who loves karaoke should certainly give it a look.