Rock Band Unplugged

Rock Band is known as a party game franchise that brings four individuals together with near life-sized instrument controllers (microphone, guitar, bass and drums). With enthusiasm and crazy antics the Rock Band series compliments any household party and allows players to live their rock fantasies in minutes.

One thing to consider with Rock Band is the need for a fairly large space to accommodate the instruments and friends who love to jump around. So think of my surprise when facing PSP’s own title ‘Rock Band Unplugged’. In that instant the first thing that came to mind was to downsize all the instruments and imagine the set up for PSP’s Rock Band to be made of finger sized instruments:


Seriously how has a game which largely depended on a large area of playing space, with the contribution of four members condensed down to solo micro-management by the powers of fingers and thumbs on a portable by yourself? (Yes we’re just using the PSP, I was joking about the toy instruments.)

Well believe it or not, it is true. Taking all four instruments under your stride there’s no one to blame for slipping up but yourself. Don’t worry though, it’s not as hard as it sounds. Using the L and R shoulder buttons you switch between the four running tracks of each instrument. The notes are made up from the left d-pad, up d-pad, triangle and circle buttons. The songs will always start you off on one instrument running track and as long as you play the track well to satisfy the ‘phrase’ quota, the instrument will then temporarily play by itself so you can jump over in preparation for the next upcoming instrument. If you’ve got your rhythm and co-ordination consistent, you’ll have no problems playing phrases and switching between the instruments like a walk in the park.

However upon messing up a phrase means it’ll take longer to fill and only if you play successfully within the quota will the computer offer it’s temporary help from your hands. The longer you take on one instrument you will start to see notes flowing down on another track. As the notes go by so does the life bar on the instrument so keep your timing up or you’ll be losing your sound and eventually losing your gig if you’re not careful!

It all sounds a little fiddly but keep with it and you’ll get the hang of the controls within about three or four songs. The tutorial mode does a great job of breaking everything down in chapters; for players who aren’t familiar with music/rhythm gaming and for those who are but only need to know how to get around Rock Band Unplugged.

Tour Mode main ingredient to Rock Band Unplugged so I created my very own ‘Ready Up’ rock band. Now in reality Ready Up’s staff come from various locations in the UK; however it seemed more fitting for me to decide our home town to be San Francisco because only that and Dublin, Amsterdam, Chicago are the only places that exist in this game. Yes that didn’t make sense at all but I heard San Francisco is a nice place so that was that choice made! After a good while of nit-picking at how each individual band member dresses, setting Ready Up band off for gigs, impressing fans, hiring staff to boost fanbase and increase income. The main task was to achieve great performances to unlock more gig venues and most importantly, more songs.

However I feel there’s a bit of a horrible double edge to this game; either you can keep going through playing gigs in tour mode but find yourself playing the same songs a little too often, or you choose to spoil yourself silly by going through the main menu options to ‘Modify Game’ and ticking ‘unlock all songs’ (which I’m quite disappointed to have discovered). You’ll also find ‘no failure’ and ‘no solos’ there too but come on, ticking those boxes just takes away the sense of gaming achievement and satisfaction.

Extra features in the game are Quickplay, Warm Up and Survival Mode (not for the feint-hearted) but to be honest I’d say just stick to tour mode and quickplay for when you’re killing time on the bus. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again because the tracks don’t take long to get through, you may as well take your practice on the real game anyway.







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