I got the PSP incarnation of my favorite franchise on a trip to Guildford, UK. It continues to baffle me why I need to pay so much more for the games over here in Finland. I would certainly buy a lot more new games if they weren’t quite so expensive.
You’d think that it’s all about the peripherals (I have four plastic guitars, a drum kit and five mics at home) or all about playing with friends (I have some), neither of which comes with this portable Rock Band experience. But it turns out that no, it’s all about the music, and aside from some classic and progressive rock pieces, Harmonix is very good to my ears.
You can see the track listing on the official Rock Band Unplugged page. There are only nine out forty songs that are new to this game, which is a little disappointing, but overall the setlist is very strong. Freezepop’s Less Talk More Rokk is my favorite song thus far and indeed, I got their latest album based on how much I like them in the game.
You play the game by hitting a phrase 100% correct, which then triggers the instrument to play on its own for a while. You then switch to the next instrument. When you struggle to get a phrase correct, all the instruments start to fail and before you know it, the song is over. You only use four buttons (left, up, triangle, circle) to play, the shoulders to switch between instruments and X to engage star power. It sounds very simple, but the difficulty level is spot on. Moving up to hard difficulty, I have struggled to comprehend how my fingers could move that fast or my brain process the very complex patterns flying at me at warp speed and yet I usually somehow manage. Of course, it’s no different from doing the same on the faux guitars or drums, and playing at a sufficiently challenging level, you get the same kind of satisfaction from doing well.
I do miss friends and especially singing, but the gameplay is really very good.
You can even buy new songs for the game, in the first in-game store for the PSP. The price point should be lower, though, and I can’t really see myself picking up any of them unless there’s a more sensibly priced collection available at some point.