Family Game of 2007

goty113small.gifPicking the best game of any given year is difficult. That’s why you’ll see that most magazines and websites cheat and cram as many categories as they possibly can – so as many games can win as possible. To me the question is simple. I’m not looking for excellence (Mario Galaxy) so much as I’m looking for impact. I’m looking for the game we’ll remember that year for. And that game, for 2007 inarguably is . . .

Rock Band.

Disagree? Here’s my argument. Rock Band is the finest multiplayer experience available in gaming. Where else can four people get together, create characters, and enjoy no matter how geeky or non-geeky they are? What game marries three different kinds of games together? Rock Band is: Karaoke Revolution + Guitar Hero + Taiko Drum Master (only more complex and more like real drumming). See, unlike Guitar Hero, this game doesn’t just throw a list of songs at you, leaving you to imagine everything else (though that is available). No-no! Rock Band launches you in your band’s home city and offers lists of venues and inside the venues are the gigs. This means playing songs you don’t like, struggling through songs your singer maybe can’t sing well (requiring everyone to step up their game to compromise), and even dealing with marathon gigs of audience chosen or random songs.

The joy of this is the feeling of teamwork and accomplishment. My band has only two members – I can’t wait ’til my kid gets older – but my friend Zane and I are constantly challenged now that we’ve become famous and can play Arenas. The problem? We’ve got to play on Hard or sometimes Expert if we want to unlock anything more.

I’ve never played a video game that requires so much practice!

Playing in a virtual band with four is even better. One time I kept failing out during one of those brutal Metallica songs (“Ride the Lightning”) and this led the now-tired vocalist to glare at me at one point. My drummer told her to chill. Meanwhile I’m trying to teach GamerMom how to play, but for now she’s making like Yoko Ono.

I’ve played thousands of games over my lifetime and the decade I’ve been writing about them and I’ve never seen a game accomplish what Rock Band does. It offers four different ways to play an incredible list of songs (most from the original artists), with more to download weekly (you’ve got to try “My Iron Lung” by Radiohead or “Roam” from the B-52’s).

I adore this game.

I’m even thinking about investing in one of those realistic guitar mods based on real guitar parts. Despite the $500+ price tag they seem to command.

I floated that idea to GamerMom and she asked me why? With so many games, why would I do that. I reminded her that I’ve been playing guitar for almost 3 years now.

And to those out there who whine that Guitar Hero and Rock Band are pathetic because we don’t play real instruments? Yeah, whatever. Maybe wargamers are pathetic for not joining the army, MMORPG fans should get a life, flight sim fans should get a pilot’s license, and people who play Manhunt … should be incarcerated! Or something.

I know I’m not a guitarist. I know I’m not a drummer. I’m aware I’m not in an actual band and that I the screaming fans I gain and lose are utterly fake. And you know what? I’m not pretending.  I’m working with other people to play a game well – I’m enjoying the cameraderie that comes from being in a band (this is what Rock Band actually simulates) I’m not pretending to play an instrument – I’m playing a controller.

And I’m loving it!

So, GamerDad’s Family Game of the Year is Rock Band. The game that finally fulfilled the destiny of the rhthym genre. The game we’ll remember 2007 for.

No Responses to “Family Game of 2007”

  1. Too rich for my blood right now, but I look forward to getting it eventually, for the reasons you chose it. But I’m hopeful that Guitar Rising actually launches, and works properly – because it could be amazing.

  2. I am a bit conflicted – but not because of the game itself. I think that 2007 will be remembered as the year of Rock Band and Halo 3.

    I have a problem because it is priced the same as *4* normal games – therefore making it ‘not family *budget* friendly’.

    Also, while it is also available on the PS2 in a ‘lesser’ version, the main thrust is on the XBOX360 – the non-family console. Indeed, the fact that it isn’t available on the #1 ‘next gen’ console, the real family friendly choice of the current set, is also interesting.

    That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be GOTY … but *family* GOTY? Just wonderin’

  3. Clearly I think it’s worth the price. Actually, considering what you get it really is worth the price. Mike, maybe if you transfered some of your PC budget toward the family budget?
    😉 Seriously though, it’s the ultimate co-op experience. And in terms of bang for buck, it beats Guitar Hero III easily. I know, I got it free, but seriously, if mine was stolen I’d buy another in a heart beat. And my kids aren’t old enough for it yet so I generally play it alone. With a group of friends? It’s revelatory in a Wii Sports kind of way. A “this is real gaming!” kind of feeling.

    They do plan on releasing it for the Wii. Since it needs the PS2 graphics and the Xbox360/PS3 Internet deals – plus – there are controller issues to consider.

    And, it’s subversively teaching kids a history of the kind of music that isn’t played on the radio anymore

  4. Even though the only thing I like about Rock Band is the drums (I got pretty good at it over at a friend’s house), I have to agree with your claim, GamerDad, because Rock Band has encouraged my little brothers to WANT to play together and learn how to play real musical instruments. And any game that does that is OK in my book.

    I probably won’t get the game myself not only because of the high price, but because all those accessories take up so much room! But when the Portal ending song becomes available for downloadable content for Rock Band (it’s true), I will MAKE my little brothers download it on their game. Hey, at least it’s a song that I know the words to! Ha ha!

    One of my little brothers said, “Cary, you’ll like Rock Band. It’s got music that’s really OLD!”

    Oh well, back to playing Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney! –Cary

  5. MWUAHAHAHA … my evil plans to get discussion brewing started 😀

    I would buy the Wii version in a heartbeat, and wish I had a X360 so we could play. I think it is a great choice – half of my kids friends have it … the other half wish they did. Every party over the last few months has highly featured either GH3 or Rock band – and Rock Band is a real star for that age group.

  6. I think the game looks awesome, but I am pretty weak at Guitar Hero, so I am reluctant. Seriously, I must have some kind of music-game related learning disability.

  7. I do not understand the buzz that Rock band and GH3 have. To me they are nothing but a cheap knock off of DDR. Can you please explain this to me?

  8. I was skeptical of the original Guitar Hero, being a proficient instrumentalist myself. But these are DDR-type games with guitar-type controllers. But it just works in a way that only takes about 30 seconds of playing to understand. Similarly, if you have played Donkey Konga or Taiko Drums you will get the drumming thrill, and same for any of the Karaoke games. *Then* pile it all together and get your herd in the living room for absolutely awesome laughs and playing.

  9. It’s pretty simple Shaequan – everybody secretly wants to be a rock star.

    Alright, that’s only part of it. The real reason they have exploded is the same reason the Wii has exploded – it’s not that they give you something new, they have refined how they deliver the experience, bringing in a lot of new people who would otherwise shy away from videogames.

    It’s pretty easy to see when you compare Guitar Hero to Guitar Freaks. Konami’s Guitar Freaks may have been first, but the feel of the two games is quite different. Guitar Freaks feels like playing DDR with your hands, Guitar Hero makes you feel like you can play guitar.

  10. More like an expensive knock off of DDR.
    DDR is a MUCH simpler game to play and make.
    Oh and you don’t get quite as tired in Rock Band and GH.

    But yes, the gameplay is roughly similar, in much the same way that a lightgun game is similar to a first-person shooter.

  11. And Simon, thanks!
    I’ve been wondering what the difference between Konami and Harmonix’s guitar games. (You know Harmonix made Konami’s Karaoke Revolution, right?)

  12. I just don’t understand how people enjoy these games .I would rather learn actual Guitar. Maybe I’m forgetting that logic and video games don’t go together. I just seem to lack the understanding it takes to like these games or maybe it is because there aren’t any explosions.

  13. Then do so!
    What Guitar Hero and Rock Band simulate isn’t playing guitar. It’s the feeling of playing guitar. Not everyone can learn an instrument to the mastery of actually being able to play their favorite songs – much like most MS Flight Sim people don’t have the time or money to become real pilots – so we turn to simulations to do what we otherwise can’t.

    The games are a lot of fun, in other words. My point is, it’s not logical at all to assume that a person who’s master Guitar Hero would ever be able to become even a halfway decent guitarist. But it sure is fun to rock out to your favorite music with friends!

  14. I actually found that at first my instinctive timing for hitting notes based on string positioning and pick plucking was hindering me in GH3. Once I separated the two I was much better. It really is a different beast.

  15. I was about ready to swear at you. Good pick though.

  16. Swear at me? Why-so?

    Another factor is that this might be the only game that – even if they never upgraded it – I would still be playing it 20 years from now.

    I hear that a lot Mike, from guitarists, most still like it though. What I really like is the co-op, I love this music, and I like that I generally have to move like a guitarist to play well. When you have a Rock Band group doing well together – it really does rock. Not in a performance way, in a band practice in the basement kind of way.

    Oh, I forgot to mention, Rock Band has a dynamic where you can use Star Power — ahem, Overdrive — to boost ailing bandmates or rescue them when they’ve failed out. This is one of the most satisfying things about the game. Rescuing your buddies when they “lose” the game and working together to get through the nightmarish tunes.

    Oh that and this is easily the first game I’ve ever had to “practice” so my friends aren’t annoyed with my performance in the game. 😉

  17. @GamerDad

    If you had happened to pick a Wii exclusive, I would have thrown so much profanity your way you would likely have

    A) IP-Banned me
    B) Questioned my sanity

    I have an irrational hatred of Nintendo, for reasons even i’m not sure of.

Discussion Area - Leave a Comment

Tired of typing this out each time? Register as a subscriber!