Friday, November 13, 2009

Rock Band is Getting even Better.

I see at WogBlog that Harmonix, which had long promised a complete Sgt. Pepper download for Beatle Rock Band in November, has announced solid dates: Xbox and Wii users can download the album on November 17th, while PX users have to wait until the 19th.

Harmonix has already put up Abbey Road for sale to the Rock Banders of the world, and wisely so-- how could anyone who had already laid out the cash for the game resist it? They're pricing the albums at about the same cost as a CD, which sounds pretty okay until you realize that you're only really buying, like, half the album's songs, since a bunch of the album's tracks already came with the game. But it's NOT a CD-- it's a new product, really, for which Harmonix designed lovely dreamscapes and scored all the instruments, so in the end I've decided it's a fine deal to just buy these things. Abbey Road was a good one to start with, too, because it turns out that playing the entire B-side medley as one complete track (which the game allows you to do) is THE MOST FUN THING IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. Like, seriously. It rules so hard. It makes me want to cry.

Have you guys checked out Beatles Rock Band yet? It's kind of taken over my life. I'm doing productive things like reading books/cooking nourishing meals/blogging much less frequently than I'd like, because when I come home from work I just want to sit down and try to get 5 stars on "Dig a Pony," which is the ONE song in the Story Mode that I can't seem to master the guitar part on. (I don't even know why. I've managed "Back in the U.S.S.R.," which is much harder, but "Dig a Pony" keeps messing with my mind.) Or else I just want to kick ass on the guitar solo of "The End" one more time (which is the BEST guitar solo in the game, because you get to pretend you're three different Beatles at once).

If you haven't checked the game out yet, I need to urge you to do so. Whether or not you enjoy the previous Rock Band iterations (I do), the new game is such an affectionate homage to Beatles-geekdom that Beatles geeks everywhere owe themselves a look, no matter how much it sets them back. You might have already read about the crazy attention to detail in the sets-- well, it's ALL TRUE. If you're like me, you've seen a lot of photos taken when the Beatles played the Cavern, Shea Stadium, the Apple rooftop, and so on, and the designers of the game have literally captured even random people in the audience that you'll recognize. (My favorite is the guy with the glasses who checks his watch at the Cavern. Just like he does in that one photo. Awesome.) And in the "dreamscapes," which is the way they animate later songs that weren't performed live, they clearly reference pre-existing video interpretations of songs ("Yellow Submarine," "I Am the Walrus," and so on) while still doing new fun things with the visuals. The attention to detail is SO awesome that I tend to forgive the forays into revisionist, idealized Beatles history-- such as the fact that Eric Clapton does not play the guitar solo on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," Ringo drums on "Back in the U.S.S.R.," and Yoko is nowhere to be seen at the rooftop concert.

My little secret is that, since Harmonix is based near me in Cambridge, MA, I actually got to be a playtester on Beatles Rock Band. I played three separate times, and I got to sing AND drum my way through every single song in the game (except for the new albums they're putting out for sale this fall) months before it was out. I had to sign paperwork giving the MTV/Viacom people permission to, like, draw and quarter me if I told anyone anything about this at the time, so I had to hush up here on the blog. But the point is, I tried to offer this kind of constructive criticism to the playtest people ("Why not put Yoko and Maureen right there on the rooftop? What about how in "Dig a Pony," there's a guy holding up a legal pad to John so he can read his lyrics? You guys should put that in!!"), who politely pretended to take notes and then politely bade me adieu at the end of the night, no doubt shaking their heads at the crazy playtester girl.

Anyway, I've been thinking about Sgt. Pepper and how hard it might be adapt for Rock Band. How on earth would you play the orchestral crescendo on "A Day in the Life," which itself is only the very first potential difficulty that pops into my head? I'm looking forward to seeing how they manage it, though. Because I know where my ass will be on November 17th. My couch. As I play the entire Sgt. Pepper album. And that is way cooler than what the rest of the world will be doing on a random Tuesday.


  1. Never got it. Too little free time, I think.

  2. On Thanksgiving, after dinner and dishes, we played Beatles Rock Band. We've had the game since it came out but I hadn't played it myself, just the kids. But they roped me into singing. And, first, the harmonies were HARD. I absolutely massacred some of the songs. But it was also great fun. We got to I Am the Walrus, and let me just say, you try singing some of the words to that song and not breaking down in hysterical giggles. I didn't even know, after all these years of hearing that song, that at the end of the song, they're singing "Oom pah Oom Pah Stuff it up your jumper" (at least I think that's what the words said). But try singing that over and over with a straight face. Good times.

  3. Oh, dude, "I Am the Walrus" RULES on Beatles Rock Band! I am so with you on this. This is the kind of thing that makes it the best party game ever. Also, the visuals on that one are vaguely terrifying. And perfect.

    Oh my God, that game is so kickass.

  4. That's the point of TB:RB. It's much easier than other Rock Band games, but it isn't about scores. It's about playing along with the Beatles with your "band" and even discovering how hard their songs can be (drums in Helter Skelter, anyone?). I bet that TB:RB is, at least, partially responsible for Megan lack of posts in recent weeks. By the way, Megan, how did you feel when Paul winked "at you" during Lovely Rita? Seems like he "called you" after all;)

  5. Guilty as charged. Which is why I'm suddenly blogging again now that I'm traveling for the holiday and not at home where my XBox beckons. And, YES! Squee! I caught the Paul winking. Paul's winking to like three or four generations of fans now, which is awesome.

    The drums in "Helter Skelter" ARE hard, too. Actually, they might be even worse in "Birthday." But I suck at drums anyway. I am wicked uncoordinated.