Platform: XBLA, PSN
Release Date: Out Now
ESRB: T for Teen
This review is based on the XBLA version of the game
Put those plastic instruments down, because this installment of the Rock Band series isn't quite what we“re all used to. In fact, Rock Band Blitz is only about half of a Rock Band game, with the other half being something completely different. And all you need to play the game is $14.99, a standard controller, and enough free space on your hard drive to hold the game and its 25 tracks. So is the game worth the trouble, or is it just a waste of space like the fake instruments filling your closets? The answer is simple: if you like rhythm games, buy this one.
Once upon a time, Harmonix created two controller-based rhythm games known as Amplitude and Frequency. These games had you shifting between different layers of each song, playing the guitar part one moment and jamming on drums the next. Rock Band Blitz can be seen as Rock Band and these two games mixing together to create something new to the Rock Band series. Well, I can“t really say it“s completely new, as this idea was played with in Rock Band: Unplugged for the PSP and Rock Band 3 for the Nintendo DS, I guess you could say that Rock Band Blitz is a more refined version of what those games had to offer.
The game is fairly simple. There is no campaign mode, so all you do is pick the controller up and play through a song whenever you feel like it. Each song takes you down the streets of â€œRock City,â€ akin to the scrolling note â€œhighwaysâ€ of previous Rock Band games, with different colored lanes corresponding to the drum, bass guitar, lead guitar, vocal, and keyboard parts of the songs. Unfortunately, the vocals can get insanely confusing at times, depending on the song, because you will often have to keep to a rhythm that doesn“t exactly have a steady beat. Still, it“s all fun nonetheless.
The game“s controls are pretty standard; each lane gives you left and right notes that you hit by tapping the D-pad and a face button, the left and right joysticks, or whatever controls suit your fancy. And the more notes you hit down one lane, the higher that lane“s multiplier rises, which in turn allows that lane to earn you more points. However, you can“t stay on one instrument throughout the song and expect the multiplier to keep rising, giving you no choice but to switch lanes if you desire a high score.
And once you raise the multiplier for each part by at least one, a checkpoint will increase the cap by three greater than the part with the lowest multiplier. For example, if you had four parts at 3x, but one at 1x, the max will only rise to 4x. As such, one of your main goals throughout each song should be to jump between each lane and increase the multiplier for each as much as possible before you hit the next checkpoint. Doing so will maximize your score, which is the main objective of the game.
Another way to maximize your score is through the game“s â€œblitzâ€ meter. If you hit notes consecutively, this meter will fill up. Once full, you will begin moving down the lanes faster and faster until you miss a note. This increase in speed is complimented by a bonus to your score, so it helps not to miss notes. Of course, missing notes is a little bit too hard in this game. With only one difficulty setting and only two sides to each lane, this game lacks the kind of challenge the main series has. But it“s not the main series, so this pick-up-and-play aspect can also be seen as a fun little break from shredding that plastic guitar on expert mode.
Once you complete a song, you are scored with the classic 5-star system. And depending on how high a score you receive, you are awarded accordingly with both â€œblitz credâ€ and coins. Blitz cred is sort of like experience, and the more you increase your blitz cred, the more power-ups you unlock. Unfortunately, you need to collect coins in order to use these power-ups. Normally, this wouldn“t be a problem, but the payout for each song is so much less than you need to truly take advantage of the power-ups. As you could imagine, this can often take some of the fun out of the game.
When you can afford to use power-ups, though, the game gets a bit more fun. Power-ups come in three flavors – overdrive power-ups, note power-ups, and track power-ups. Overdrive power-ups are triggered in a familiar sense, in which you play glowing white notes to gather enough energy to use them. These power-ups offer several score-boosting benefits, such as temporarily doubling all your multipliers (star power, anyone?). Note power-ups are a bit more exciting, providing you with fun little mini-games of sorts that you play by hitting purple notes throughout the songs. Perhaps the most fun of all of these is the pinball note power-up, which launches a large pinball that increases your score the longer you keep it on the streets. Lastly, track power-ups are a bit simpler, including such powers as raising your score by switching lanes at certain points.
Unlike its older brothers, Rock Band Blitz isn“t a game where you can jam with friends at a house party. Instead, this arcade game gives you a Facebook app called "Rock Band World" that allows you to connect with your XBLA/PSN friends who also own Rock Band Blitz and happen to be on your Facebook friends list. You can either play cooperatively to earn extra blitz cred or you can choose to initiate â€œscore warsâ€ and destroy your friends“ high scores. You can even watch other players“ scores throughout each song as you try to surpass them. It“s just unfortunate that you have to be on Facebook in order to make the most out of this game“s multiplayer potential, rather than simply relying on your XBLA/PSN friends list alone.
Overall, Rock Band Blitz is a nice little game that any rhythm gamer should pick up. With fun gameplay and plenty of songs to play through, this game will often have you saying â€œjust one more song!â€ And if the game itself wasn“t enough, guess what – the entire soundtrack doubles as DLC for Rock Band 3. How about that! Furthermore, Rock Band 3 DLC is also playable in Blitz for even more button-mashing good times. So whether you“re interested in the game itself or just interested in the DLC pack, for $14.99, Blitz is definitely worth the price.
+ Fun gameplay that doesn't require plastic instruments
+ Power-ups are a nice addition
+ The soundtrack doubles as DLC for Rock Band 3
+ Rock Band DLC can be imported
- The coin system is a nuisance
- You can't play cooperatively with friends without connecting to Facebook
Overall Score: 8 (out of 10)
Following the footsteps of its brethren, Rock Band Blitz is a fun little arcade title that any rhythm gamer should pick up.