A shaggy-haired brunette in aviator shades is breaking a sweat as she pounds a drum set, a tall blond sporting head-to-toe American apparel has an intense look on her face as she tries to hit every guitar note and a petite Chinese girl with long, dark hair is screaming into a microphone, ‘Say it ain’t sooooo, oh, oh!!!’ This is not a cover band; this is ‘Rock Band.’
Love it or hate it, ‘Rock Band’ has become the game, whether played sober or, the more entertaining alternative, completely intoxicated. Rock Band has a way of making people feel much more musically-inclined than they come close to being in real life and allows them to step into the world of a rock star for four minutes at a time.
People love it, and people love to hate it. I was one who stuck my nose in the air and snorted at the idea of playing a plastic instrument and covering songs that I hated in high school. I was not the only one who tried so hard to resist. People would attack the game from all angles: It’s so trendy, it is nothing like playing a real instrument, it is so juvenile, I would rather be at a coffee shop smoking clove cigarettes and reading a surrealist romance novel, etc. The truth is that the game is irresistible fun.
For those of you who have managed to avoid ‘Rock Band’ completely, here is a little history. Rock Band is what I would like to call an instrumental DDR. Up to four people can play three different ‘peripherals,’ which, for those of you who are not techies, are modeled after instruments. There is a drum set, which consists of four color-coded pads and a bass drum pedal; a microphone, which is self-explanatory; and an instrument that doubles as a guitar or a bass, your choice. Notes scroll on a screen in a certain color, and the player hits that color pad (drum) or presses that fret button (guitar/bass). The singer is required to hit a certain pitch that is indicated by lines on the screen, which look something like your daily stock market update on MSNBC each morning.
The game was first released for the PlayStation 2 on Dec. 18, 2007. It has since been made available for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and is soon to be available for the Wii. Millions of copies have been sold, and whether you love it or hate it, it has received praise around the world. On top of that, record companies and long-forgotten artists appreciate the new exposure and slight increase in sales. Albums that have been gathering dust or have been played out by our generation are being rediscovered by the younger generation. Even our generation gets a little pang of nostalgia when we remember how good Orange Crush by R.E.M is.
The real appeal of a game like ‘Rock Band’ is not only the fact that it is a totally original concept (aside from Guitar Hero), but the feeling