Old Meets New
Oh The Beatles: is there no sphere of entertainment that you won’t try and insert yourself into, or more accurately, make masses of money from decades after your worldwide success? Definitely not is apparently the answer here since after hundreds of songs, five movies in which they starred, and a fair few decades, The Beatles are back in the most up-to-date form of entertainment known to man: video games. Specifically, we have a Beatles-centric Rock Band title on our hands, and it is difficult to know how to take the news if you’re hearing this for the first time. One the one hand, you have a massively successful, interactive music-based video-game sensation that has swept the world with its simulated instruments and opportunity for every to be a DIY musician, but on the other you have Beatles fans both past and present shaking their heads in disapproval and strong suspicion of marrying the two worlds of old and new. Thankfully, The Beatles Rock Band seems to have been somewhat of a success (not surprising, really), and this short review will hopefully inform you of the reasons why.
You shouldn’t expect anything innovative or boundary-pushing about the gameplay of The Beatles Rock Band, since it sticks to the tried-and-tested format that involves gems of different colour making their way down the screen on a highway-like section with you having to strum and press the corresponding colour when it meets the line at the bottom of the screen. The result is an often frantic yet enjoyable rendition of the song that is playing, though it can be a little dismal at first as you get used to the act of strumming your little plastic guitar-cum-controller whilst hitting the right notes with your right hand at the right time, or of course using the drum kit to field the percussion side of things. Regardless of your chosen instrument, developers Harmonix are aware of the popularity of the format and of how much of a smash hit said format would be if it were to be given the Beatles treatment.
When it comes down to it, The Beatles Rock Band is simply an extremely elaborate Karaoke performance that allows several friends to participate in aspiring to be a musical star at once, provided that you have purchased the fairly expensive drum kit, guitar, and microphone augmentations that make the game so unique to play in the first place. The game even has some vocal coaching to get your harmonies up to scratch before you all make embarrassments out of yourselves.
Like Rock Band but Better
Of course, the feature that differentiates this from all other incarnations of the Rock Band franchise is the music itself. Story mode actually takes you on the journey of the band, following their career through chronologically from performances on different shows and in different venues to Abbey Road. There are forty five Beatles tracks in total to be enjoyed/played through, and all presented in a very well-designed package with graphics that although aren’t exactly cutting edge are elaborate and flashy enough for this type of game.
The Beatles Rock Band is as much about taking a journey through musical history as it is playing song after song. Whilst with other band-specific performances can be restrictive and narrow in scope, The Beatles’ catalogue of songs is extremely diverse, particularly when entering the Abbey Road sessions and the different backgrounds and visual variations to accompany the music that come along with them. This game is a must-have for the true Beatles fan as well as a great addition to the series for those that simply enjoy a good Rock Band session.