Rock Band Blitz: No instruments required

The launch of Rock Band was a phenomenal success, with its legion of players including many gaming newcomers.

But just five years later the music game genre is dead, and its chances of an Elvis-style comeback seem sadly remote. Millions of plastic instruments are now collecting dust.

Rock Band creator Harmonix recently suggested the "arms race" between Guitar Hero and Rock Band was a significant part of the rapid downfall of the music game, with publishers saturating the market with too many games.

Publishers also dramatically overspent on music licensing and marketing campaigns in an attempt to cash in on the craze and destroy the competition.

Now Harmonix has decided to return to its roots and provide a cheap and accessible music game that doesn't require expensive and cumbersome instrument controllers. In fact, Rock Band Blitz only uses a few buttons on a regular control pad.

The songs feature a series of coloured lanes, each representing vocals, guitar, bass, keyboard and drums in a manner similar to the pioneering PS2  Amplitude and Frequency by Harmonix.

The idea is to constantly switch lanes and play that instrument's "notes" in time with the music by either pressing left or right.

Blitz can be wonderfully challenging depending on the song, but there's no way to fail so the game is also accessible to all.

You will only get a good score if you pay equal attention to each lane and strategically keep increasing your points multiplier. The urge to beat your high scores (or a friend's total) is very strong.

Various power-ups can also help you increase your scores, better rewarding your skills or compensating for any deficiencies. However, it seems unfair that Facebook users get an advantage of extra credits.

Blitz comes with an eclectic selection 25 songs, which are compatible with other versions of Rock Band so you can play them with plastic instruments if you wish.

All 3500 songs in the Rock Band catalogue can also be used in Blitz, so there's a huge library on offer.

Whether you are a Rock Band veteran with a huge collection of songs or a newcomer to the music game genre, Blitz is good fun and good value. It's available now on Xbox Live Arcade or PlayStation Network for around $17.

What have you been playing lately?

- Jason Hill

twitter Jason Hill is on Twitter: @thatjason

The story Rock Band Blitz: No instruments required first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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