Back in 2003, I was introduced to what would become one of my favorite games of all time -- Amplitude for the PlayStation 2. Although I had dabbled in the prequel (Frequency), it wasn't until Amplitude dropped that Harmonix really became a household name for me.
It changed my perspective on music quite a bit, and introduced me to a host of new artists, as well as new songs by artists I was already familiar with. And when you think about it, that's kind of Harmonix's mission statement.
Although you may have seen it a few times at this point, Amplitude's core concept was allowing players to create songs by laying down each individual element (vocals, drums, bass, guitar) on a "track" by way of a spaceship-like vehicle. Each road had specific buttons to push (left, center, and right), and if you were successful enough to play an entire measure, that song element would continue playing.
In a sense, you were remixing your own version of the song, but there was a score-attack element as well as power-ups to mix things up even further. You were free to lay down any piece of the track you wanted, as well as look ahead of the track to plan ahead for a massive combo. Through the game's varying difficulty levels (Mellow, Normal, Brutal, Insane) and by nature of the tracks themselves, it felt like you were playing a completely new stage every time.
The soundtrack was also one of the most diverse collectives in all of rhythm games (even today), offering up rap (Run-DMC), electronica (Herbie Hancock), rock (Weezer), and a mix of pretty much every other major genre. It's crazy to think that amidst the hundreds and hundreds of DLC options for Rock Band that Amplitude only had 26 songs, but it felt like hundreds. Heck, some of them were even original tracks that were created for Amplitude!
But Amplitude didn't just influence my musical tastes, it also scratched that hardcore rhythm game itch that I get from time to time. On higher difficulties, the game was tough -- so tough that I'd sit there for hours mastering one song. Before the era of plastic instruments, sitting there hitting buttons like a DJ was more than enough for me. To top things off, it had a remix mode, as well as local and online multiplayer -- in 2003!
I hope that the newly minted Kickstarter can embody the central tenets of what made Amplitude so great, and with all of the tricks Harmonix has picked up over the years, I'm very confident. Although Rock Band Blitz was a noble effort to recapture the magic with full DLC integration in tow, my expectations are a lot higher when you stamp the Amplitude name to a project -- because for me, that name still carries a lot of respect.
Oh, and if you're listening Harmonix -- bring multiplayer back!
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