When I was working at Kmart for those few wonderful weeks, there was this co-worker that also happened to be a guitar player and as such, never passed up an opportunity to talk garbage about the whole Rock Band/Guitar Hero genre of video games. As a matter of fact, I recall us getting into a heated debate with me defending the games as a means for those of us without the talent or wherewithal to “play a guitar.”
Look, you can play a guitar. I’m happy for you. But there are tons of people out there that, for whatever reason, just can’t grasp the concept. These games are for them, not people like you. It’s not for real–it’s a game. Do you think NASCAR drivers are as pissed as you are about driving games? Or [insert your favorite professional sport] players despise the fact that gamers are living vicariously though these games? Hell no. So let us at least have that and if I can say so, you must not be a very good guitar player if you’re working at Kmart.
The guy shut up and quite honestly, I think I broke his brain because he was quite silent after this little incident and remained so until my last day of work. I didn’t regret telling him these things because I felt he had it coming. He seemed to be quite arrogant (imagine that: an arrogant musician!) about the whole thing and he just needed to be set in place–by a guy about 20 years his senior.
But upon seeing the latest addition to the Rock Band franchise, I’m beginning to see his point.
As you might recall on this April Fool’s post from 2008, I accurately predicted the eventual materialization of the Rock Band keytar:
Rock Band’s mature fans will appreciate the Rock Band Wireless Keytar, an exciting addition that will introduce the synth-pop and electronic genres to the game, with music from bands such as Depeche Mode and Devo planned for downloadable content.
I also mention my plans to sue Harmonix and Microsoft (for entirely different reasons) in this post but that’s neither here nor there…for now.
So let’s get into my reasons as to why I won’t be buying Rock Band 3. When I first saw the gameplay with the keytar I thought it was pretty cool and was a must-have. Then as I watched more and more videos for the thing, I realized that I have a Casio keyboard sitting in my bedroom which never gets used. But when I do bring it out, I’m the kind of person that can listen to a song a few times and easily play it back after a few tries. No, it won’t be as complex as the original version but the melody will be there and you’ll know what it is. Sheet music? What’s that? Yes, I’m “one of those people” as my wife says.
Did I mention any song, not a limited list of songs offered in the game or ones that may or may not be available for download? It’s doubtful that the Marketplace will ever produce anything that I would want to see and honestly, I would rather sit in a quiet room with a regular keyboard and figure out how to play the synths from this song* rather than clack on a goofy 24-key keytar and pretend to be Ray Manzarek or some lame/forgotten group.
And let’s face it: Manzarek played keys and bass at the same time.
That’s one aspect of it. Then there’s the cost of the thing which, at the time of this post, is a ridiculous $129 for the (required) keytar bundle.
As if I wasn’t already turned off by the concept, they have to offer it a price point that is a little over the top. Hell, my full Rock Band 2 bundle was only $20 more than that when it came out and when you consider that a decent, starter stand-alone keyboard can be had for the same price as the RB3 bundle, I’d go with the option that might just spawn a little more creativity, has 88 keys and won’t be collecting dust a month down the road because of its limited use.
No, Rock Band 3, you won’t be part of my collection any time soon. Sorry.
But while I’m here I want to mention one more thing that I’m sure Harmonix will rip off from me and run with. Now that the franchise has a practical full set of instruments offering a “complete band” experience, where do they go from here?
Add a new drum set but not just any drum set: a replica Simmons SDS-8 drum set. They were all the rage back in the ’80s and were played by Phil Collins, Prince drummer Bobby Rivkin, and whoever the fuck played drums for Spandau Ballet.
Then, as if that’s not enough, make an entire game dedicated to ’80s music: A Flock of Seagulls, the aforementioned Spandau Ballet and Prince, and even throw in some Morris Day and The Time for good measure (Jerome not included). It’ll be fun on a bun!
Come on, Harmonix, it’s the only natural progression you’ve got left. You’ve pushed the genre about as far as you can possibly could and very little will make it much better than this.
So to my former co-worker I’m pleased to say that I know where you’re coming from. As for Harmonix, just remember: I accept PayPal.
UPDATE: Wow, I mention suing Harmonix and all of a sudden they are up for sale. So much for my big payday…