Me and rhythm games have a colored history.
I remember hearing about a game called Dance Dance Revolution about ten years ago. It sounded like the Nintendo Powerpad recycled as an arcade game to me, I didn't understand what the big deal was. You get up and stomp on the buttons in time to the music, what's the big deal. It sounds like something Japanese school girls would like.
Around the same time a game called PaRappa the Rapper was released for the Playstation and became a huge hit. This one was even more headscratching as you're just pushing buttons on a game pad in time to the music. You don't even pretend to dance! Talk about a dumbed down game concept.
Skip ahead a few years to the release of the Sega Dreamcast and a game called Space Channel 5. Same concept as PaRappa only this time the protagonist is a curvy pink-haired woman in a spacesuit a'la Barbarella. Ok so maybe sex does sell. I ended up picking it up and enjoying the hell out of it.
Shortly thereafter I found myself at a party one weekend where a group of co-workers had brought in an X-Box and four Dance Dance Revolution pads. We connected it to an overhead projector and a decent stereo and for the next 30 minutes I sat watched people who had obviously played the game way too much. They stepped, jumped, and turned in perfect synchronization to the music and to one-another. I was so mesmerized I lost prejudice for the game enough to ask for a turn. They set it to the easiest level and I still failed miserably but it was fun, god it was fun.
I finally understood what those Japanese school girls had seen all along.
I eventually picked up the game and my own pad and though I never got as good as my friends I still had a blast playing. Which brings us to this last year.
Different set of co-workers and a drinking game with lots of beer this time. I'd been hearing a lot about this game called Guitar Hero. Same premise as DDR only instead of a dance pad you have a guitar you press colored buttons on in time to the music. It feels less a guilty pleasure and more socially acceptable to wail on a guitar than bounce around on a plastic mat with giant arrows.
I hesitated to get into these types of games because they were the realm of the slavering masses. Those that had eschewed video games as too complex and for nerds. They had never cared if that new sword raised an elves attack value enough to be worth the cost, or learned to circle strafe or rocket jump. I felt like I was betraying my roots. But you get to pretend to play guitar!!! Now with less air and more interaction!
Well, somebody was reading my mind and has found the perfect marriage of experience/level/never-ending-treadmill style gameplay and the rhythm game. They also threw in what promises to be the ultimate drunken party game to boot.
You've got a guitar, a microphone, and drums this time for you and two drunken friends. (three if you pick up another guitar for someone to play bass) They've created a World Tour mode where you create a rock star analog of yourself in game, as do your friends, and you come up with a band name and logo. You start off playing smaller clubs and build a fanbase and slowly unlock things like a manager, tour bus, roadies, etc... until you have enough infrastructure with you to allow you to play stadiums. You earn money in game for better equipment, stage props, costumes. I'm sure you can hear giddiness in my serifs as I type this. It's so absolutely perfect.
Here's where you, my readers, get to join in the fun. We've all thought at one time or another "that outrageous combination of words would make the perfect band name"! I need a name for my band so I can get working on a logo and have it ready for the game when it comes out on the 20th.
If any of you have felt the spirit of rock and own an Xbox 360 you can play with your band on Live so you don't even have to be in the same room to rock out together. In the words of AC/DC: We roll tonight... to the guitar bite... and for those about to rock... I salute you.