Rock Band: Where Legends are Born

My Early Days of Rhythm Gaming

My introduction to “playing music in games” was PaRappa the Rapper on the original Playstation. The lively colors and hot beats combined with a straightforward button scheme gave regular people the chance to become lyrical karate heroes!

One thing that made PtR great was the comedic relief of a rapping dog, particularly in an era where Biggie and Tupac were the gold standard. It added lightness to hip hop and made it more accessible to the masses.

A few years later, my friends started getting into Dance Dance Revolution. While it was possible to use the standard game controller for this game, you didn’t get the full experience unless you were jumping on one of these bad boys:

You rack up points by stepping in rhythm on the corresponding gamepad button, and usually would end up drenched in sweat after a song or two. It was all worth it to prove that you were essentially a better dancer than Chris Brown.

Lucky for me, Guitar Hero was launched shortly after, moving me back to the couch and reducing the unnecessary calorie burn. By setting the difficulty to ‘Beginner’, most people could breeze through the toughest songs and still feel like the lead of a heavy metal group.

All three of these games had their own charm, and I felt that each built off the success of its predecessors.

DDR added a second player to the mix as well as some cool hardware. Guitar hero took it up a notch by having players use something that closely resembled an instrument.

Then, in 2007, Rock Band changed the game.

Gametime

At the time, I had a PS3 and lived with three friends from college. We had the perfect number of people to cover all the instruments for our virtual tour.

The world had already seen enough of the guitar and microphone in prior games to be comfortable choosing these roles on day one. However, the drums were a new beast.

Not only did the developers want you to use both hands at the same time, you also had to tap your feet to hit the simulated bass drum on higher levels of difficulty!

Many years of drumline had prepared me for this moment.

I adjusted the height of the pads, picked up the sticks and got in my zone.

Similarly to guitar hero, Rock Band gradually unlocked songs with increasing level of complexity. The band’s setlist had everything from Black Hole Sun to Say it Ain’t So.

Within a month, we were rock legends. Our neighbors didn’t think so, but they don’t know good music.

Sadly, our time in the spotlight was cut short when the majority of the band graduated from college and went out into the real world…with real responsibilities.

I’ll always be thankful for the several months we spent touring, hundreds of gigs around the globe and the millions of fans who supported us along the way.

The Next Rock Band

There have been many sequels to the original Rock Band (see below), but none have had the same allure as the first.

What I’d really like to see is a VR version of the game. Beat Sabre has already shown that the technology is there to create a memorable virtual reality rhythm game. It just makes sense that I would be able to play Rock Band on an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.

I won’t be too prescriptive in how this game is developed, but I do have a fairly straightforward wishlist for whoever brings this product to life:

  • Ability to recruit band members from all over the globe, based on their instrument of choice
  • Rating system based on in-game performance and feedback from non-friended band members
  • Recreation of many large music festivals (Woodstock, Coachella, etc.)
  • Character customization on the level of current-gen sports games
  • ‘Creator Mode’ where players can build their own scores and share them in a virtual community
  • Overwatch League-inspired competitive scene

I could probably go on for another 40 or so bullets, but I’ll save it for when the developers are asking for feedback on the beta. If it helps, I can send some video footage of our performances from over a decade ago!

What would you want to see in a VR version of Rock Band? Leave your comments below!

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