Rock Band Blitz (PS3, 360)

OK so let’s say you’re the only one in the house and you have a sudden urge to play Rock Band. But then you’d have to lug out all the instrument peripherals again, and it’s not as much fun to play the game by yourself anyway. Ugh. Or let’s say you want to play Rock Band, but can’t afford or don’t have room for all the instruments. Luckily, Harmonix has just the thing for you: Rock Band Blitz. It’s a new arcade style single player music game that uses only the controller, downloadable on Xbox 360 and PS3 (360 version reviewed here).

Gameplay is simple to learn, and the included tutorials do a great job of teaching you the basics. You have five lanes, each one representing a track from the Rock Band games: drums, bass, guitar, vocals, and keyboard. Pick a lane and start tapping away. As you pass markers, that lane will level up. Missing notes will only slightly penalize you and make the markers back up a bit. Once a lane is leveled up to the max, switch lanes with the L and R button to level up another track. The goal is to have all the lanes maxed when you reach a checkpoint. When that happens, the lanes will reset and you can level them up even more for the next checkpoint. You’ll have to use some strategy to know which lanes to pick and play to get the best score.

As you play, you’ll earn power-ups you can buy and equip. Some of these power-ups last through the whole song, and can double your points on certain tracks or notes. Other power-ups you have to activate manually by earning credits from playing white notes. The Bandmaster power-up, for instance, will let the computer play a lane temporarily so you can concentrate on other ones. And even though the game is single player only, you’ll be able to view online leaderboards and challenge friends to beat your scores.

The only problem I had was that, to get the full enjoyment out of the game, you need to have a bunch of songs already downloaded from other Rock Band titles. Luckily the game comes with a free pack of a little more than two dozen songs to download, so that’s not too shabby. It’s a wide variety of music, too, with songs from the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and more modern songs. And I recognized most of them, too. Better yet, supposedly they’ll work with Rock Band 3 as well. So if you really enjoy all things Rock Band, you’ll definitely want to try out Blitz.

Kid Factor:

Rock Band Blitz is rated T for Teen with ESRB descriptors of Fantasy Violence and Suggestive Themes. What the heck? I didn’t see anything like that in here. I mean, some of the power-ups have exploding bombs and maybe some of the album covers are suggestive. Some of the songs you can download may have some lyrics that parents might have a problem with. But if you’re OK with your kids listening to all songs on the radio, they’ll be OK here, too. I’d be fine with any age playing this, myself.

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