Tuesday, November 20, 2007 was the first time I experienced the greatest multi-player game ever created. I was one of a dozen or so people lined up for a midnight release of the rhythm based, music infused, party game that would create many memories for years to come. I was able to leave GameStop with the enormous box grinning ear to ear, holding the first game in the series Rock Band.
The game allows four people to simultaneously act out “playing” some of the most celebrated rock songs with plastic instrument peripherals, including guitar, drums, bass, and a microphone/tambourine. Each song allows 1-4 players to select their instrument of choice and time the color “notes” to the proper button input at the right time. If executed properly, the music track will play as intended, but for every note missed it goes against the band’s performance meter. If band member continue to under perform the meter will plummet. Another band-mate that is scoring perfect combos can carry the subpar member(s) for a bit, especially if they score on the multipliers.
This formula would not work if the songs didn’t perform. Artists like The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Who, Metallica, and Foo Fighters start off the on disc collection, with an ever growing list of songs by other performers. DLC would eventually update weekly and include more diverse songs including “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga (also a version by Eric Cartman from South Park), “Still Alive” by GLaDOS from Portal 2 fame, and “Rock and Roll Band” by Boston.
But what makes this game so fun is the entertainment it creates for those playing and watching. The visuals provided on screen are mostly comprised of the notes previously mentioned, with avatar characters performing on stage. Performing well and increasing your score is the real thrill in playing the game and watching your friends look ridiculous playing plastic toys while singing is the amusement for those watching.
Those watching inevitably take the next step and join the band for the next song. I have seen people of all gaming backgrounds feel the need to play. My non-gaming parents have each picked up the mic to sing some of their favorite songs. Others took the opportunity to live out a dream of banging on the drums or take center stage for an epic guitar solo. The multiple difficulty settings for each player allow those of all skill levels to play and laugh together.
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