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Music games

Guitar Hero photo
Guitar Hero

Guitar Hero Live players love them some Tenacious D


'Tribute' #1 in the UK, #3 globally
Jan 08
// Jordan Devore
FreeStyle Games has come out with a list of the most-played songs in Guitar Hero Live over the holidays and I can't be the only one who finds lists like this somewhat entertaining. Between December 24 and January 3, the most ...

Review: Chiptune Champion

Jan 08 // Jed Whitaker
Chiptune Champion (PC [reviewed])Developer: Blake GarnerPublisher: Blake GarnerMSRP: $9.99Released: January 8, 2016 If you're like me then you grew up playing the NES where chiptunes were the norm, then you became a teenage pirate and you'd get distracted by keygen music, and now you're an adult and you just have a general love of chiptune and enjoy purchasing games and music to support artists. If so, you may want to give Chiptune Champion a play then, as it is filled with some of the best chiptunes out there from artists such as Rymdkraft, Carf Darko, and Savestates, with 40 songs in total. The whole presentation is bare-bones, but it gets the job done. Notes come from the top of the screen and the appropriate number key needs to be held while pressing the enter key on time, very similar to how Guitar Hero and Rock Band are played. The graphics are about what you'd expect from a 16-bit style game, and there isn't an option to have the game fill the whole screen, instead full screen puts a black box on the outside of the screen. Music continues to play regardless of if you hit the notes or not, but an obnoxious sound effect plays loudly if you miss a note or play one at the wrong time. I checked the options to see if the sound effect could be turned down or off, but no such options exist.  [embed]332764:61786:0[/embed] The developer suggests holding your keyboard vertically and facing away from yourself while playing, but I found it was easier to remap the keys to home row and play with my keyboard in its natural position. That said, my keyboard has a bit of extra plastic at the top that makes it a bit more extended, so your experience may vary based on your hardware. Once my keys were remapped I had a far better experience but was still only able to play on the easiest difficulty only requiring four keys. The medium and expert difficulties have you playing five keys, and ramp up the difficulty significantly, so if you're looking for a challenge you'll certainly find it there. There are also weekly and overall leaderboards per song, if you're into that kind of thing. On top of the included 40 songs is the ability to create your own and share them via Steam Workshop. Custom songs can be created, imported and exported right from the game, so even if your favorite chiptune artist isn't included you could technically create their tracks in the game or beg them to (looking at you Alphadeus.)  While the presentation leaves a bit to be desired, the music is on point and often had me humming along before the songs were even over, which is probably the most important factor to any music and rhythm game. If you're a fan of chiptunes and want a Guitar Hero-like experience on PC then Chiptune Champion is easily recommendable, it sure beats jumping through the hoops required to get Frets on Fire to work on modern technology.  [embed]332764:61786:0[/embed]
Review: Chiptune Champion photo
Keygen Music Hero
I love chiptune music and I love music and rhythm games, so of course I had to play Chiptune Champion, which combines them both.  It might not be perfect, and it might not be much to look at it, but it has its charm. 

Rock Band 4 photo
Rock Band 4

Harmonix: 'We're not yet sure where online multiplayer fits in our roadmap' for Rock Band 4


So don't hold your breath, k?
Dec 16
// Vikki Blake
Harmonix has confirmed that while online multiplayer is "very much on the table" for Rock Band 4, it's not yet clear on "where it fits in our roadmap." "Online multiplayer is a part of a much bigger conversation. We know it&r...
Guitar Hero Live photo
Guitar Hero Live

One-on-one rival battles have come to Guitar Hero TV


Plus some other minor changes to GHTV
Dec 15
// Joe Parlock
When it comes to Guitar Hero Live, the one song I kick arse at is "Everybody Talks" by Neon Trees. I know it’s not considered “rock enough” for a Guitar Hero game by some people, but they’re obviously ...

Brutal Mode is the best thing to happen to Rock Band in years

Dec 11 // Brett Makedonski
[embed]325866:61490:0[/embed] Take a look at this video of me playing. It'll give you a greater sense of what actually makes this difficult. Sometimes I play well, other times I play poorly. At no times, however, am I playing comfortably. For those who have spent countless hours honing their Rock Band proficiency, this is the perfect addition to the game. It forces the hardcore community to play differently than they've played before, but while still using the same skills. This is built for the people who chase full combos and won't accept anything less. It taps into their meticulous drive to play well, and beautifully flips it on its head. Brutal Mode is maddening and it's not because of the vanishing notes. It's because of the psychological mind games the mode plays. Any well-versed player will tell you that they don't watch the notes reach the bottom of the track. Instead, they reach a sort of inner-harmony where they immediately internalize the note and play it in time while doing the same for every other note that flows downward. It's not a sensation that can be easily explained to anyone who hasn't felt it. This mode's brilliance lies within the fact that it changes the Rock Band experience from a visual one to an audial one. Sure, there's a preview of the upcoming notes, but it's on you to know the correct time to play them. Feeling the music is necessary; disconnecting from the music and trying to brute force the notes on what seems to be the right beat will just result in awkward plunks and wails. Overthinking it is a formula for failure. Ironically, when you're failing is when Brutal Mode is maybe at its toughest. It'd seem natural that the inverse is true; the worse you're doing, the longer you can see the notes. That should be easiest. It's not, though. Not even close. Any fluctuation in the process can temporarily damn you. Seeing those notes and thinking about them switches your mindset back from audial to visual. As it turns out, your brain can adjust to sticking to one of those; flip-flopping is where you get confused and freeze up. The invention of Brutal Mode is a staunch informer that being able to see the notes is a huge crutch, even if it doesn't seem that way.  In 2010, Harmonix tried to advance the Rock Band experience by introducing Pro Mode -- a way for players to actually learn the instruments they were simulating. It didn't fare all that well. The barrier to entry was high and the learning curve was steep. As it turns out, a lot of people who spent a bunch of time mastering Rock Band and Guitar Hero didn't want to start from scratch on a new skill; they wanted to build on the ones they already have. Brutal Mode feels as if it were built for that audience. It's an extension of the toughest Rock Band has to offer while managing to change the way the game is approached. Anyone who's good enough at Rock Band to take a serious try at Brutal Mode has long ago lost the magic that comes with improving at the genre. This helps recapture some of that. That's a win by any measure, brutal as it may be.
Rock Band 4 photo
And the toughest
Harmonix rolled out an update for Rock Band 4 earlier this week that included a whole bunch of unexpected additions. It's impressive in its scope. A lot of the changes were meant to make Rock Band 4 feel more like a...

PS2 games on PS4 photo
PS2 games on PS4

PaRappa the Rapper 2 hits PS4 next week


Burgers all day every day
Dec 10
// Jordan Devore
Sony has begun selling PlayStation 2 games on PlayStation 4 with Trophies and 1080p support. After that initial batch of titles, PaRappa the Rapper 2 is up next. It'll be available on Tuesday. It's unknown exactly how much th...
Rock Band 4 photo
Rock Band 4

Rock Band 4's newest mode gets harder as you get better


Become a brutal legend
Dec 04
// Brett Makedonski
As a part of the December 8 update to Rock Band 4, the game's most adept and hardcore players will get a new challenge that requires their finely honed skill set. Harmonix is introducing Brutal Mode to the game, a variation ...
Amplitude photo
Amplitude

Amplitude set to release on January 5 for PS4


Ring in the new year
Dec 02
// Darren Nakamura
It has been a bit of a wait for Amplitude, Harmonix's 2014 Kickstarter success. It was originally slated for release in March of 2015, but was pushed back a few times to January of 2016. Still, a year is nothing if you consid...

Review: Superbeat: Xonic

Nov 30 // Jed Whitaker
Superbeat: Xonic (PS Vita [reviewed], PS TV)Developer: NurijoyPublisher: PM Studios, Atlus & ActtilMSRP: $39.99Released: November 10, 2015 This spiritual successor to the DJMax series has you tapping on the edges of the screen as visualized music from various genres fly at you, or optionally using the D-pad and buttons if that is you'd prefer. Personally I found that Superbeat was far more suited to touchscreen gameplay than traditional controls. By using touch you never have to think about what buttons to press, instead just matching the notes as they connect with the screen, which in turn makes things a tiny bit easier. The only downside to touch is getting used to the scratch notes, which are yellow notes that require tapping then quickly swiping either up or down based on the arrow inside of them. Scratch notes really gave me trouble till I'd spent days with the game and finally found the perfect technique to trigger them. Aside from that, the gameplay is spot on. Hitting notes just feel great on the smooth OLED of my launch edition Vita, even if I didn't recognize any of the music upon first playing it. By the time I was finished with the game I found myself humming along to songs and going back to play my favorites to level up.  [embed]323291:61307:0[/embed] Superbeat has an XP leveling system that is used to unlock songs and World Tour stages. XP is gained by completing songs, and bonus XP are awarded for difficulty and perks related to unlockable DJ Icons. DJ Icons can grant perks or protections such as double health, more recovery, more XP and even break shields. Shields are used to prevent damage being taken and combos being broken and are necessary for many of the World Tour stages unless you're a natural born finger dancer.  World Tour is really where you'll spend most of your time with the game, completing various challenges that require various goals such as massive combos that last across songs, perfectly played songs, and achieving high scores. My biggest gripe with the game is that the difficulty of World Tour stages doesn't really match up with their listed difficulty; I often found myself failing the easy stages while breezing through medium and hard difficulties.  The Tour stages that are brutally difficult require you to get 90%+ JUD, with JUD being related to score. While DJ Icons can help you pass many stages, they do little to help pass JUD stages, as the shields only grant you "good" rated presses instead of "superbeats" that give you a higher score. Some of the challenges are so hard that I found it damned near impossible to complete them in my time with the game, meaning I missed out on one last set of challenges and another "fart" sound effect that can be used in place of the default rimshot sound effect played when hitting notes.  After close to 40 hours with the game, I'm nowhere near acquiring all the unlockables, though I've managed to unlock every track -- all of which I really enjoy aside from one metal song that gives Crazytown's "Butterfly" a run for its title of 'shittiest song ever.' I rarely play my Vita, but now I'm going to have to pack it and Xonic along with me for any flights as my new go to "don't panic because you could die at any moment" game.  Superbeat: Xonic is an original enough take on the rhythm genre to make it feel fresh again and is easily the best touch screen based music game I've played with Cytus coming a close second. Filled to the brim with catchy tunes, I'll be revisiting Superbeat in the coming months anytime I travel. Apart from some brutally difficult challenges, the only other thing holding me back from giving this game a perfect score is that it is on the Vita, a system that I'd still regret buying even if this was the second best rhythm game I've ever played -- long live the king, PaRappa the Rapper. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.] Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon (3DS)Developer: Spike ChunsoftPublisher: NintendoMSRP: $39.99Released: November 20, 2015 [embed]323291:61307:0[/embed]
Superbeat review photo
Fingering has never been so fun
I've been playing rhythm games since they exploded onto the scene with PaRappa the Rapper in 1997, and having nearly played at least one title of every rhythm game series released I can easily say Superbeat: Xonic is top tier. But be forewarned, this is the Dark Souls...nay...the 127 Hours of music games, only you get to keep your arms attached. SUPERBEAT: XONiC

Fallout Band 4 photo
Fallout Band 4

Look like a wasteland warrior when Fallout 4 invades Rock Band 4


A duet of cuatros
Nov 24
// Brett Makedonski
If you fancy yourself a living room faux-musician, this is probably the closest you'll ever get to looking like a Fall Out Boy. Harmonix has collaborated with Bethesda to add free Fallout 4 Vault-111 jumpsuits to the Ro...
Rock Band 4 photo
Rock Band 4

There's a ton of stuff coming to Rock Band 4 in December, including Rock Band 3


Good stuff for the hardcore community
Nov 19
// Brett Makedonski
Rock Band 4 launched in a state that felt kind of bare bones. Several features were cut from past games in favor of just getting you to simulate playing music in your living room again. A lot of that's getting added afte...
Rock Band 4 photo
Rock Band 4

Over 400 Rock Band songs are still missing in Europe on PS4


No word exactly when a fix is coming
Nov 13
// Laura Kate Dale
If you're a PS4 owning Rock Band 4 player in Europe, there's a good change you've noticed that a chunk of your old library of PS3 Rock Band tracks don't seem to be playable on Rock Band 4 yet. You're probably not alone in thi...

Review: Just Dance 2016

Nov 09 // Caitlin Cooke
Just Dance 2016 (Xbox One [reviewed], Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Wii)Developer: UbisoftPublisher: UbisoftMSRP: $49.99 (Just Dance Unlimited streaming service is an additional $6.99/month, 39.99/year)Release Date: October 20, 2015  In addition to the usual modes in the Just Dance series there are a few new ones present to provide different offerings to newcomers and spice things up a bit for seasoned players. Along with the normal competitive Dance Party mode, you can now play cooperatively with other players and work together to reach a high score. Dance Quest is also new, showcasing an interesting concept where you compete against a robot leaderboard and move through the ranks in a set playlist. World Video Challenge allows players to compete with people from around the world in a pre-recorded environment, and Showtime is the most different of the bunch, essentially allowing players to participate in glorified karaoke. Perhaps one of the most useful features to be carried over from Just Dance 2015 is the ability to play the game without a Kinect by holding your smartphone, and allowing up to six players to join in. The Kinect seems to be a forgotten accessory these days as the game no longer supports menu navigation through Kinect, rather players need to use the controller to scroll through. I find this to be a win in my book as I never felt as if it did a good enough job of tracking navigation anyway. The phone navigation is fairly smooth overall but with a limited interface compared to using the controller. I also found the phone tracking buggy at times and even less reliable than using the Kinect to play. For example, if my phone had some kind of notification (like a low battery indicator) go off, it paused the game mid-dance. This caused a lot of frustration since I didn’t really feel like disabling notifications every time I turned the game on. However, I do feel the added flexibility of allowing smartphone play is worth it overall and I’m glad they included it again. Unfortunately the meat of the game, the song list, is lackluster. Recent hits seem sparse, and the variety of genres and time periods also seem to be missing. A majority of the music combs sub-par top hits from the past five years, with only a few one-off gems out of the bunch. I would have liked to see more hits from the '80s and '90s, or at the least better songs from recent years. The choreography for the most part seems lacking across the board with a few exceptions. Perhaps it’s impossible to raise the bar here with six other versions behind its back, or maybe it's betting on the unlimited streaming service to fill the gaps. Some of the dances stand out -- for example, in “Under the Sea” you mimic Ariel and have to sit down, using arm movements and moving your “fins” to the beat. There are also a few interesting choices that mix the game up including a kung-fu style choreographed segment, an Irish dance, and a song featuring Hatsune Miku. These are the high points of the game, especially if you love making your friends dance to silly songs. Outside of this, it’s standard pop fare. The new Showtime mode isn’t much to talk about unless you enjoy humiliating your friends, in which case it’s a complete masterpiece. There is no set choreography, just pure singing and forming your own dance moves to an effects-driven video filled with overlays. It’s not something I enjoyed doing on my own, but watching friends go through it was delightful. I do however wish it offered more songs as you can only pick from a handful -- I suppose designing those overlays and graphics takes a lot of time. The game overall feels a bit limited -- despite all of the new modes, it doesn’t seem very open in terms of what you can do. For example, the Showtime and other video uploads only show a few brief clips from other players around the world, and there isn’t really any way to sort or find new videos -- it only shows you what’s popular and what’s most recent. I was also disappointed that Dance Quest mode, although a bright concept, was extremely limited in that you’re dancing against robot scores (not real people) and you’re not able to create playlists or jump around to different quests. Despite my qualms, I had fun playing Just Dance 2016 -- but then again, it’s hard not to. It’s still a favored party game and one that has almost perfected the fun-for-all game model. Heck, it’s reached a point where it’s thrown in some mediocre new modes and a subscription model just to keep itself fresh, so in some cases you can call this a success. However you can also say that Just Dance is a dying breed, one that is taking its last breath to capitalize on the streaming craze that’s enveloped our little gaming world. I say we don’t think about it too deeply, and just dance. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Just Dance 2016 photo
I've had a little bit too much (much)
Yes, another Just Dance -- the seventh in the series -- has arrived. This latest edition is no exception to the usual hallmarks that defines the series with its ease of accessibility and colorful party atmosphere. It hol...

Rock Band 4 photo
Rock Band 4

[Update] Harmonix employees have been posting reviews of Rock Band 4 on Amazon


Leave the astroturfing to Ground Force
Oct 22
// Joe Parlock
[Update: We have received this statement from Harmonix, acknowledging the reviews were from its employees: Harmonix has clarified its internal policy about posting reviews of our own products on retail sites, and we've asked...
Rock Band 4 photo
Rock Band 4

Rock Band 3 tracks should be playable in Rock Band 4 by end of year


The export fee is $15
Oct 21
// Brett Makedonski
People who played Rock Band 3 can expect their Rock Band 4 library to grow significantly in the coming months. Since Rock Band 4's October 6 launch, Harmonix has been at work trying to bring old content onto the new...
Macklemore photo
Macklemore

The Seahawks lost yesterday because Macklemore played Guitar Hero at halftime


Legion of Gloom
Oct 19
// Brett Makedonski
A lot of dumb things happened in football this weekend. Michigan decided it would like Michigan State to continue its recent domination of the intrastate rivalry, so the Wolverines did this -- a not very good football play. T...
Guitar Hero Live photo
Guitar Hero Live

You will know (and love) most of Guitar Hero Live's newest songs


Good god! That's CM Punk's music!
Oct 09
// Brett Makedonski
You know what they say about saving the best for last. Well, I guess they just say to do it. It's a good idea. Then everyone's like "Wow, we doubted you, but some real nice stuff happened at the end." That's Guitar Hero Live'...
Rock Band 4 photo
Rock Band 4

Here's how to turn off Rock Band 4's Freestyle guitar solos


Viva la scripted solos!
Oct 08
// Brett Makedonski
Rock Band 4, largely the Rock Band that you already know and maybe love, has one big change from previous games. That is the Freestyle guitar solo. Its intent is to break away from the traditional and sometimes very toug...
Rock Bugs 4 photo
Rock Bugs 4

Are you having issues with Rock Band 4? You're not alone


Issues and some fixes here!
Oct 07
// Jed Whitaker
[Update: A Harmonix spokesperson reach out to us to issue the following statement:  “The Rock Band experience is as important to Harmonix as it is to our players. We are passionate about Rock Band, and we'll suppor...
Rock Band 4 photo
Rock Band 4

Re-downloading your Rock Band DLC is a giant pain in the ass on Xbox One


Hope you like spreadsheets
Oct 02
// Brett Makedonski
In preparation for Rock Band 4's release next week, I figured it's about time to start downloading the songs I bought on Xbox 360 for use on my Xbox One. There's no doubt in my mind that if I have friends over to play and all...
Rock Band 4 photo
Rock Band 4

Rock Band 4 releases next week, last chance to stock up on cheap DLC


It doubles in price on October 6
Oct 02
// Brett Makedonski
It may seem counter-intuitive, but this is a rare example of a time when you might want to purchase downloadable content before a game comes out. I know, I know -- we usually rally against that hard, but bear with us just thi...

Guitar Hero Live left me afraid to ever try playing live music

Oct 02 // Laura Kate Dale
On a gameplay level, Guitar Hero Live feels pretty new. Gone is the old five-button single row layout, replaced with two rows of three buttons placed next to each other. On screen you've got three note tracks scrolling, which will either show a white pick pointing down or a black pick pointing up to denote if you should play that note on the top or bottom row. It's a switch up that slightly more closely resembles guitar fingerings, and it feels like a new, manageable challenge to learn. However, what had a far bigger impact on my experience with GH Live at EGX was the impressive integration of full motion video, which is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to living out your teenage rock god fantasies. Firstly, my fears about modern implementations of full motion video were instantly allayed when actually playing the game. I can logically tell which camera pans are likely being used to mask transitions between videos as your performance rises and falls, but try as I might I could not actually see the seams. We seem to have reached a point where smooth transitions in full motion video gameplay are totally possible, and that's really reassuring to see. When I was doing well at Guitar Hero Live, I felt like a guitar shredding legend. The crowd went wild, the pit jumped, the crowd fought to lock eyes with me and everything felt amazing. It's amazing how much difference the switch from computer animated crowds to real human faces can make, but seeing actual people respond well to your performance felt awesome. We have not crossed the uncanny valley, and real human faces in video games have a special power to elicit an emotion. The scary thing about GH Live? It can invoke powerful negative emotions too. Toward the end of my time with the demo, I decided to see how far I could push the limits of the game. I slowly performed worse and worse as the song went on, and my god it got uncomfortable. First the audience began to look mildly confused. Then, they looked upset, personally let down by me. I glance at the bassist and he's trying to ask what's going wrong. I do worse. The audience grows upset, confused and angry. I glance at the drummer and she's freaking out. Mascara is running down her face as she mouths obscenities at me. The singer motions to have the stage hands pull me off stage. At this point, I quit the track I was playing. I felt terrible. My failure felt real. The anxiety related to letting down fans, the disappointment and the anger resting on my shoulders. I felt it all. My time playing Guitar Hero Live at EGX convinced me primarily of two things. If you're doing well, this game is going to be awesome. If you screw up, you are going to be made to suffer for your sins on the guitar. I think that's pretty damn exciting.
Guitar Hero Live photo
I felt like a badass for about 5 seconds
Back in my mid-teens I played drums in a hastily thrown together rock band. We mainly played pretty bad covers of other people's songs, occasionally writing our own tracks that went on far too long and were excessively simpli...

U2 Rock Band additions photo
U2 Rock Band additions

U2 song forced onto your iPhone is now coming to Rock Band


Only band with two tracks
Sep 28
// Steven Hansen
Harmonix has announced two new songs for Rock Band 4 through its official Twitter account. They are both U2 jams. "Cedarwood Road" from the group's debut and "I Will Follow" from 2014's Songs of Innocence, which I assume peo...
Rock Band 4 setlist photo
Rock Band 4 setlist

These are all of the songs in Rock Band 4


Are you up for another gig?
Sep 14
// Jordan Devore
I've been content to let other writers at Destructoid cover the Rock Band 4 track announcements so far, which is for the best. I'm not even sure I want to pull out the plastic instruments again. (Unless it's to replay The Bea...
Rock Band 4 photo
Rock Band 4

Tough decisions lie ahead in Rock Band 4's career


Stardom don't come easy
Sep 10
// Brett Makedonski
Pretend for a minute that you're in a band that has achieved some degree of notoriety. Sounds great, right? Maybe not. There are a lot of decisions that need to be made, and sometimes the people influencing you don't have you...
Guitar Hero Live photo
Guitar Hero Live

Guitar Hero Live expands its setlist with Pearl Jam and Lamb of God


And too many Crazyfists
Sep 08
// Brett Makedonski
It seems like just yesterday that it was announced, but we're getting dangerously close to Guitar Hero Live's October 20 release. It's basically fall -- the weather's cooling down, the kids are back in school, and this game i...
Harmonix and Fig photo
Harmonix and Fig

Harmonix will need your help (again) to make its next game


Sometime this fall
Sep 03
// Brett Makedonski
Harmonix is going back to the crowdfunding well after its successful Amplitude campaign, but it's not going the Kickstarter route. It's going with something far more trendy right now. The music game developer plans ...
Rock Band 4 photo
Rock Band 4

The Rock Band 4 disc will cost $20 extra on Xbox One


All due to wireless protocol
Aug 24
// Brett Makedonski
Those who plan to play Rock Band 4 on Xbox One with their instruments from Xbox 360 will have to pay a bit for the privilege. As it turns out, the standalone Rock Band 4 disc will cost $80 instead of $60. That price...
Rock Band 4 photo
Rock Band 4

Rock Band 4's latest big addition is Van Halen


PANAMA! PAN-A-MAH-HUH!
Aug 17
// Brett Makedonski
Not recognizing a majority of music in games has been a running theme this year. Guitar Hero Live largely falls victim to this. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 definitely does. Fortunately, Rock Band 4 does not. Harm...
Chrvches play Rock Band 4 photo
Chrvches play Rock Band 4

Wow, I'm better at Rock Band than Chvrches is!


But they're still famous, so whatever
Aug 10
// Nic Rowen
I take every opportunity to watch real musicians play Rock Band that I can, I'm always interested to see how they'll do. Especially when it happens to be one of my favorite acts. Extra especially when they're playing a Rock ...

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