I know what you’re probably thinking.
If you’re a regular reader, you probably have in mind something like, “Didn’t you just get Rock Band 2 back at Thanksgiving? And didn’t you have Beatles Rock Band as well by that point? Did you really need another Rock Band game already?”
Well, probably not.
We had fun with Rock Band 2. We had even more fun with The Beatles Rock Band at Thanksgiving. And even more fun was had at one of my wife’s “scrapbooking and martini nights” in early December where the girls had drinks and belted out even more of The Beatles while I, the designated studio musician, played guitar on easy mode because none of them wanted to do anything as complicated as play an instrument, but also didn’t want to play alone.
If only we had the extra mics to do the harmonies. That and somebody to film it.
And so, with Christmas approaching, my daughter put LEGO Rock Band on her wish list, no doubt in the belief that the combination of LEGO and Rock Band would lead to something special. So when it came time for us to distribute these wishes to various relatives for present ideas, I made sure LEGO Rock Band was on the list for my dad and his wife, as they generally stick to the script. In fact, they usually buy the whole script, so I have to be careful and not put too many items on there. (Or get caught putting things for myself on the list!)
And there we no disappointments as LEGO Rock Band appeared under the tree on Christmas day. And it was timely too, for my daughter’s birthday is rather uncomfortably close to Christmas, and she wanted a rock and roll themed birthday party.
And what better centerpiece to a rock and toll birthday party than Rock Band?
Well, that and an awesome guitar shaped cake!
My wife has mad cake baking skillz
So we broke out LEGO Rock Band for the birthday party. As usual, I played the studio musician, keeping a rotating cycle of little girls going on vocals, guitar, and drums.
And what does LEGO Rock Band get you compared to, say, Rock Band 2?
Of course you get more songs. These are supposed to be a little more… I don’t know… kid friendly I guess. They still look like they are shooting at the 40+ year old demographic with choices unless kids these days are really into retro. I mean, “Kung Fu Fighting” is great and all, but it hasn’t been on the charts since I was in grammar school, right?
Not that I am objecting. It is just that I remember when I had a car and listened to the radio all the time, back in 1981, the Oldies station played stuff from the 1960s. Now it is 2010 and we’re still bringing up stuff from the 1970s without using the term “oldies” or anything else that might be seen in an ironic sense. It is just strange. I realize that, musically, we often get stuck in high school, but sometimes it seems like a lot more people than I expect are stuck in my particular high school time frame.
Not that any of that mattered a whit to the little girls, who all seemed to like the songs. Well, two of the songs. We had to do Queen‘s “We Are The Champions” and “We Will Rock You” over and over again.
No, really. Over and over. It was a small victory to get them to at least alternate between the two, and a huge leap forward to get them to pick something else. And then they picked “Walking on Sunshine.”
All the characters are in LEGO minifigure form. This is probably where Traveller’s Tales came into the picture, having an iron lock, up to this point, on video game renditions of LEGO minifigures. (We’ll have to see how LEGO Universe stacks up, if it ships this year.) So you can create your own minifigure persona for the tour or use one of the pre-made ones. There are also minifigure versions of some of the real rock stars. We certainly saw the minifigure Freddie Mercury a few times. And the minifigure David Bowie (“Let’s Dance” era, not “Spider from Mars”) is pretty dashing.
Super Easy Mode
I’m sure some of you think Rock Band is easy enough as it is, but with LEGO Rock Band you get a Super Easy mode. That works for us, since we tend to be more about the music than fixating on the little colored bricks scrolling down that slider on the screen.
I couldn’t tell what Super Easy bought you when it came to guitar, since Easy mode wasn’t all that tough to start with. But for vocals that little triangle that guides your pitch doubles in width so you can pretty much read from the phone book in a monotone and score pretty well.
And then there were the drums. For the drums, Super Easy is a revelation. You can basically hit any pad regardless of color and get credit as long it was at the right time. Add in the fact that you can put the bass pedal on auto-play and you can really unleash your inner Mickey Dolenz.
We played our first set for long enough that I, with my cold, nearly passed out and my wife had to heard all the girls outside to spray color on their hair and give them fake rocker tattoos while I collapsed on the couch.
Once tattoos had been applied, cake consumed, and presents opened, it was back for another round of play.
Dad looking pretty excited to play more Queen!
Of course, I was looking pretty good, game-wise, in a room full of little girls. My Rock Band skills were unmatched… until one of the moms arrived with an older brother in tow.
Feeling at the top of my game, I asked if he wanted to give this Rock Band thing a try. Patronizing in my proven superiority, I pointed out that the game has “super easy” mode.
He took the guitar, set it for hard, and got a 97% on his first try at a Queen song.
Well, at least it was only 97%. That left me a shred of dignity.
Ah, well, I come from a musical tradition that knows it is better to play loudly than to play well and that having fun is better than being good most days of the week.
And LEGO Rock Band is fun, even for the super easy crowd, like me.