Our latest videogames

I got it ages ago — before going into the hospital anyway — but haven’t found the time to play it until recently, but now that I have, I have been having fun with the “pro” version of Rock Band. I have the keyboard, which is a one octave piano controller, as well as the guitar controller, which has a zillion buttons — six (one per string) for every fret, as well as six strings to strum or pick. Unlike earlier versions of music games (perhaps with the exception of the drum controllers), playing these instruments is getting very close to “the real thing”. When you play synth parts on the keyboard, you are literally playing every note in the song, on the actual correct keys of course — I think you can actually use any MIDI keyboard, not just the one that the game comes with. So if you can play the keyboard in the game you can play the songs on a piano. The guitar is the same. You have to finger and strum or pick all of the notes. Playing on the buttons is a little different than a real guitar, but it’s surprisingly close. The game can “dumb down” songs a little, but once you get up to the full levels, again, you really are playing the songs.

So far I’m just playing the simple stuff — today I only got as far as managing to play I Wanna Be Sedated by the Ramones without being booed off stage — but it’s a lot of fun. I think that they’re coming out with a true guitar controller (with real strings, that makes real sound) which might be even more enjoyable, assuming that this keeps my attention. As fun as it is, it’s also devilishly hard (and that’s coming from someone who can beat all the music games on Expert, and used to play guitar in a Guns’N’Roses cover band), so it might become “work” at some point.

I’m quite impressed with the current iteration of the Rock Band franchise as a training tool — at this point, you can quite realistically use the game to teach yourself to play a few intruments (to say nothing of being able to use the singing elements of the game to do vocal training). I also suspect that for most kids (and adults) that the learning curve is much faster with the games than with a traditional teacher, to say nothing of being radically cheaper!

At the urging of the girls of the house, I recently picked up a Move for the PS3 (it’s Playstation’s improved knockoff of the Wii controller). It’s pretty cool, and Nefarious is enjoying being sucked into the virtual world of EyePet with her pet monkey “Tiny” that she’s been training. It’s quite cute, especially when it mimics singing that it hears. That said, I am super jealous of XBox owners and the Kinect, which really seems to be a generational jump in interface design.

Other than that I got Lego Harry Potter working for Caitlin’s DS, but I don’t have a jiggling picture to go with that. She’s also been playing the sports game that comes with the Move, and tells me that the archery game is pretty good.


  1. Caitlin wrote:

    You’re flying low in that picture, Mr.Larratt.

    Monday, January 3, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Permalink
  2. Timothy wrote:

    Oh wow, that guitar controller is awesome. As a guitarist & sometimes-gamer, I hope things advance to the point where you can just plug in a regular guitar to play, and the game system would accurately track pitch & timing.

    Monday, January 3, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Permalink
  3. Shannon wrote:

    They demoed it at E3 in 2010 — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5De9eCH1EU — so now it’s just a matter of waiting for it to hit the consumer market. There’s another PS3 music game, whose name is escaping me right now, that uses a real guitar as well that I saw at Future Shop recently…

    Monday, January 3, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Permalink
  4. Shannon wrote:

    Ah yes…
    Power Gig – Rise of the Six String
    Also demoed at E3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jw58pQZ_Q6o

    Monday, January 3, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Permalink
  5. Timothy wrote:

    I like the look of the Rock Band 3 controller (your first link) better than the smaller-scale Power Gig guitar (the second link). Really cool though, turns it into real guitar lessons!

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011 at 12:22 am | Permalink
  6. peteD3 wrote:

    i was wondering why i kept seeing you on rockBand. that guitar is aaawwwwssooooommee…

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Permalink
  7. David wrote:

    Power Gig is pretty terrible – the guitar isn’t full size, so anyone who picks it up and tries to play will find all of the fingering just a bit too small, even for simple things like power chords. And it’s all plastic and seemed basically impossible to tune.

    The real for-real guitar that is going to work with Rock Band is basically just a Fender Squire Stratocaster with a midi processor. It’s going to cost about $280 (US), and is due out March 1. I think the only retailer that is going to be selling it is Best Buy, but I could be wrong about that.

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011 at 11:38 pm | Permalink
  8. Josh wrote:

    That last picture..my god..I totally just zoned out staring at for like ten minutes. Its like some weird flashback hahah

    Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 12:12 am | Permalink
Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

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