Rock Band Unplugged
Rock Band takes its act on the road with this unique PSP edition.
There's no denying the ridiculous success of Harmonix's one and a half year old music/rhythm series, Rock Band. It's sold millions of copies across a number of platforms, and players everywhere have downloaded new songs, including tracks from The Who, REO Speedwagon and Spongebob Squarepants. (That's a dream tour line-up if we've ever seen one.) However, Harmonix will take the series in a slightly different direction June 9th, transitioning the rock experience to portable format with Rock Band Unplugged for the PSP.
At first, the idea sounded ridiculous. "How can we hook up a drum set or a guitar peripheral to a handheld"? Well, that's not the way Unplugged works. It still resembles the Rock Band games, but it plays entirely different. You actually have to move across each instrumental track, hitting highlighted notes to keep the song going, similar to Harmonix's underrated PS2 game, Amplitude.
Here's how it plays. The four tracks are laid side by side, including bass/rhythm guitar, drums, vocals and lead guitar. Instead of performing with actual instruments, you tap your d-pad as well as the triangle and circle buttons. It's your job to switch between all four instruments, keeping in time to the song's beat. If you miss too many notes during a performance, your band fails.
Most of Rock Band's elements are still present and accounted for in Unplugged. You can create your own customized rockers, using a variety of accessories and other items. There's also a multiplier system that bumps up your score, rewarding you with each successive note that you hit. No word yet on how multiplayer is going to work (if at all), but hopefully, Harmonix has something competitive in mind for die-hard Rock Band fans.
Upon the game's launch, several songs will be available to choose from, all master tracks from the original artists. Some of these songs are from previous Rock Band compilations, and nine will be exclusive to Unplugged. These include such hits as "What's My Age Again" from Blink 182, Alice In Chains' "Would?" and the Jackson 5's "ABC". Extra songs can also be downloaded through the PlayStation Store, which are then added to the game's library. No word yet on what these selections might be, but we wouldn't be surprised if a few previously released Rock Band tracks make the cut, along with a few more exclusives.
Along with the solo release, EA has plans for a limited edition Rock Band PSP Bundle. It'll go for $199.99 MSRP and include the game, a piano black PSP system, a 4 GB Memory Stick Pro Duo (so you have room for all of those songs) and appropriately enough, a UMD of the Jack Black comedy School of Rock.
Only time will tell if Rock Band Unplugged will be as popular as its console brethren. At least your hand won't cramp up like it does with the Guitar Hero games on the DS. We'll see how the final product fares when Unplugged hits shelves this June.