Garrett is as Garrett does

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'Garrett is as Garrett does'

Rock Band: Fun for Mr. Fumblefingers

March 21st, 2008
by garrett

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While hanging out a friend’s house, I noticed the Rock Band setup – it’s hard to miss the drum set and the two guitars in the corner of their living room. If I were to wax academic on the matter, I would consider Rock music to be a very socially oriented activity. Rock Band seems to get this ( as it should, with MTV owning the developer Harmonix ) and makes hitting buttons in timed sequences far more fun than I expected. And I suck at rhythm-games and/or reaction games. Officially. Really, I scored in the bottom 5% for hand-eye coordination.

That in mind, I declined my friend’s invitation to Rock Out. My wife thought it would be neat to try. She spent 15 minutes customizing an avatar, went through a well made tutorial, and played two songs – her on one guitar and my friend on the other. I sat back, drinking in the way the game was played and how the information was displayed to the players. Yeah, I’m weird like that.

After the second song she needed a break and handed me the guitar-shaped controller.

“No thanks,” I said refusing the controller.

“Go on, you know you want to,” She persisted.

“Yeah,” I conceded.

I selected a random male avatar and then proceeded with the aforementioned Rocking Out. I played on Easy, but it only took a song or two to work out the basic muscle moves for playing the guitar. I normally play First-Person Shooters online, so I was pleasantly surprised that people of differing skill levels could play at the same time, with each track customized to their level. That minimized the damage I could do with my suck.

Then my friend suggested the wife try the vocal part, so all three of us good play. Up to four people can play at the same time in unique roles – lead guitar, bass guitar, drums, and vocal. They can play locally or over the network, and if they work together, they can do far better than each player could do by themselves. My wife agreed, much to my surprise. She doesn’t like other people to hear her sing, which baffles me. She has a wonderful voice and while in college, she majored in Voice and Piano. After a few more songs, we were really getting into it. My wife and friend on Medium difficulty, myself still on Easy.

Normally, hitting everything you’re supposed to on time makes the game produce the ‘proper music’ and missing a note produces an off-key twang. The interesting thing is that it further allows you to modify certain notes. Once I got the basic moves down, I found that I was using the whammy bar (especially on Black Hole Sun ) to change the noises I was making. At that point I really stopped playing the game and started enjoying the process of creating the music. Well, more like directing the music as it were.

Anyway, two hours passed while we three Rocked Out.

My wife and I enjoyed ourselves immensely and have been seriously considering getting the game. Normally games are a no-brainer for me. Even if I don’t play them that much they only cost $50-$60 and can set on a shelf unobtrusively. Rock Band is not like that. The drum set and the guitar take up considerable room. Also, it’s $160, $220 if you include the extra guitar. That makes it eligible for the “$100 dollar” rule:

Anything over $100 must be agreed on by both of us.

It’s not that we don’t trust each other. It’s that if we both have to agree, it means that some discussion has taken place. Which increases the chance that at least one of us has considered the financial ramifications of the purchase. Good to have when both of us can suffer from poor impulse control…

…I have a shelf full of games that stand unobtrusively in quiet, dusty testament to my impulse control.

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Categories: Gaming · PersonalNo Comments

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