Monday, December 28, 2009

Beatles Rock Band

I suppose I should start this post with the statement that as self-rescuing princesses go, I'm pretty spoiled.

That being said, for Christmas, my brother and sister and I received the limited edition Beatles Rock Band, with the Ringo drum kit and the Hofner bass controller and the standing microphone.  After opening, we promptly went downstairs to the game room to try out our new group present.

A little background, the Beatles are something of a family gem for us.  My dad, having been born in '52, was right in the middle of Beatles Mania, and passed that passion on to me, and I have in turn passed it on to my brother and sister.  They don't quite get *why* this band is so important yet, but they will... oh they will.

Anyway, the game play is pretty similar to other versions of Rock Band and Guitar Hero that I have played, with one very important difference: its the freaking Beatles, man!  I enjoyed playing Left-Handed Bass (yes, I am the spawn of Satan), while singing lead, just like Sir Paul.  I was also very impressed with the animation.  The true Beatles/Art Buffs out there will recognize the fact that the cover art for the Fab Four's albums closely echoed the trends in popular art of the time, and the animation did an excellent job of capturing that.  From Meet the Beatles to Let it Be, there was a definite evolution, and it was awesome.

The other novel thing about this game is that you can have several vocal mics hooked up that can sing Lead Vocal or Harmonies, something not attempted by any previous versions of Rock Band.  Part of the awesomeness of The Beatles was not necessarily their instrumental or their vocal prowess, but the fact that they did both so well at the same time, and this game captures that difficulty.  As a vocalist who plays a principle instrument in my two Irish Folk bands, I found this to be a challenge, although not an insurmountable one.  I'd be interested to hear what others who aren't used to playing and singing at the same time have to say about the difficulty of game play.

But one of the amazing things was playing with my brother and sister.  They are much younger than me, and so often did not have a historical or political reference point for songs such as Taxman.  It was wonderful to see their worlds open up as I explained to them what was going on in the music that had nothing to do with The Beatles, per se.  This made game play a family experience, and I got to feel smart.  Teachable moments, right?  I mean, how often can you talk about the Bristish Economy of the 1960s and have it be relevant to the video game you're playing?

Overall, I give Beatles Rock Band an A+.  Am I biased?  Yes.  But should you run out and get it?  Still yes.

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