Rock Band Blitz Takes Music Game Genre Back to Basics

Rock Band Blitz takes the Rock Band video game series back to its roots, jettisoning expensive instruments for a game controller.

Recent music games have become opulent affairs, pulling out all the artistic stops to capture gamers' attention spans. The Beatles: Rock Band for instance was a beautiful visualization of the legendary group's music, complete with dazzling virtual representations of the Fab Four. And various iterations of the Guitar Hero franchise upped the ante by recruiting uber-popular bands to virtually appear during gameplay.

While grand-scale decision-making made the genre more interesting, it also ended up being something of an albatross. After all, licensing and promoting a game featuring The Beatles' music isn't exactly cheap. And with the economic slowdown prompting decreased consumer demand for pricey instrument peripherals, it wasn't long before the music game genre's hash was supremely mellowed.

The genre didn't used to be so grandiose. Harmonix - the Boston-based company behind the early renditions of Guitar Hero and all of the various Rock Band titles - released Frequency and Amplitude in the early 2000s, titles that prompted players to use regular controllers to match beats. While not as commercially successful as, say, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, the two games developed a cult-following as the music game genre evolved.

Those two game came to mind last week Harmonix unveiled Rock Band Blitz, a downloadable game coming later this summer for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Requiring no instruments, the title is aiming for a more addictive, arcade-like experience than music simulators like Rock Band 3 or Rocksmith. Instead of matching notes on screen with a real guitar or an actual keyboard, gamers have to push buttons on a controller to nab high scores.

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