For A “Dying” Genre, Music Games Are Looking Pretty Good

A report in July showed a dramatic 49% drop in sales of music games – presumably due to the economy, a lack of new releases and the genre’s success in 2008. Some jumped on the “it’s just a fad” bandwagon, but with the upcoming end-of-year in gaming, it seems about time for a resurgence.

The most obvious and outstanding release in my mind is the impending The Beatles: Rock Band. Released on 09/09/09 alongside the remastered works of The Beatles, this game is likely to ride a fresh wave of Beatlemania. I, for one, am eagerly awaiting my pre-ordered copy. Averaging 90 at Metacritic, it is apparent from watching just one trailer that Harmonix has put a great deal of love and care into the game, going well and truly beyond any other game centric to one band. If the 45-song soundtrack isn’t enough for you, at least 3 albums (Abbey Road, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Rubber Soul) will be available as DLC, one each month. The major gameplay addition is the inclusion of three-part harmonies for the vocal lines.

On the other side of the band game war lies Guitar Hero 5. Released roughly within a week of The Beatles: Rock Band worldwide (01/09 in the US), GH5 includes 85 songs by 83 artists. The game attempts to make multiplayer in party situations easier and more robust, allowing players to drop in and out at will, and letting bands be comprised of any combination of instruments. In addition, RockFest mode dynamically changes the multiplayer gameplay. Celebrity likenesses in the game include Johnny Cash, Matthew Bellamy, and oddly enough, Kurt Cobain. In terms of DLC, almost all downloadable World Tour songs are compatible, and a 5-pack from The Rolling Stones has been released. The game currently averages 89 at Metacritic.

During September, US purchasers of Guitar Hero 5 can redeem a code for a free copy of Guitar Hero: Van Halen early, prior to the December (2010 internationally) release date. GH:VH includes only 25 Van Halen songs, as well as 19 guest performers. I can say this much: This game would probably be pretty good for Van Halen fans.

Both Harmonix and Neversoft are aiming to create more family-friendly experiences for the Christmas season this year, with Lego Rock Band and Band Hero, respectively. Lego Rock Band follows the successful Lego Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Batman games, and features Lego avatars and environments. The full soundtrack is unknown, but 24 songs have been revealed. Band Hero essentially appears to be GH5 with more mainstream tracks, and will reportedly contain “more than 65 songs”, with 20 currently confirmed. Both games will be available on the Nintendo DS, with Band Hero utilizing guitar and drum attachments, and Lego Rock Band playing like Rock Band Unplugged for the PSP.

Finally, the DLC situation is looking good for Harmonix, who have continued to release new tracks each week, currently numbering 663, with roughly 62 more announced. Rock Band Network, available in November, will allow artists to release their own music in Rock Band, independently creating the tracks using the same tools Harmonix use. This will dramatically increase the amount of content available for the game. Meanwhile, the Guitar Hero franchise has a total of 172 tracks either available or announced, and features the ability to create and share MIDI-like instrumental tracks for free.

I, for one, will be getting The Beatles: Rock Band, Lego Rock Band, and most of this week’s Rock Band DLC (PAX Pack 2 + Freezepop Pack), and will likely pick up GH5 when it is dramatically cheaper. I understand that my parents will pick up SingStar: Motown later this month, which features a variety of Motown artists including The Jackson 5, The Temptations, and Stevie Wonder.


1 comment so far

  1. fauziwong on

    this good and nice info… thanks

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