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3:35 AM on 11.22.2010

Es geht Alex: On-disc RB songs are cursed

(Dtoid apparently missed this article when restoring old blog articles; I'm reposting it again for posterity! Thanks for keeping tabs on it, Flixist!) Originally dated November 4.

Minutes ago, John Drake confirmed that RB3 will not play either "Rock 'n' Roll Star" or "Hier Kommt Alex," independent of source (either exported off the RB PAL disc or downloaded off of the XBL marketplace).

While people are running around worrying that this will allow licensing issues to disable any and all DLC at will, I'm certain that's not the case. Rather, the explanation he intimates (that it was licensed specifically for RB PAL--well, he mistakenly says RB2 PAL, but we get the point) suggests something that I'm actually kind of afraid of: that the only way of guaranteeing that your favorite song will not disappear from future iterations of Rock Band is by making sure its original license wasn't for a specific RB title.

I don't know if this applies to Track Pack exclusives or not, but as we've seen, it definitely applies to the main games, what with two other tracks exported from RB1 ("Dani California" and "Black Hole Sun") not showing up in RB3. There's also the slightly more immediately obvious songs excluded from the original exports ("Enter Sandman" and two covers from RB1, additional RHCP and Soundgarden songs from RB2 on top of the AC/DC, Journey, and Metallica tracks, "Monsoon" from RB EU*) proving that no on-disc song is safe, but with RB3 we're beginning to see the exact extent of that.

* Surprisingly, "Monsoon" as DLC still works in RB3, despite not being exportable in PAL, making it the one song NTSC LIVE account holders are and have been able to play and PAL players can't beyond RB1.

The side games are the most questionable territory here. Band-alone games (like GD:RB) are pretty much going to be an all-or-nothing deal (and let's face it: discs like GD:RB have probably been negotiated so that exports of their track list will work in all future installments), but then you have titles like Lego Rock Band, where they didn't confirm 100% export until the last second because they were still in the process of negotiating it at the time. Were they able to secure exports for all future titles at the time, or just for a limited period?

Then there's Rock Band: Unplugged. The initial reports during that period when people started getting pre-release-day copies of RB3 suggested that "Rock Your Socks" was missing from the RB3 set list, which is when I first formulated this theory of mine. (We discovered later on that pretty much all of that week's DLC was bugged for the 360, which made me drop it, before this came back with a vengeance.) There were a good number of tracks initally released for RB:U that later ended up as DLC on the RB Marketplace. Were they originally contracted as DLC and then subsequently negotiated for RB:U (the way the non-exclusives were), or is there a clause in there that will keep me from playing "ABC" sometime in the unspecified future?

I hate it when questions get asked that we quite frankly are never going to get an answer to, due to the high opacity of negotiations in music licensing, but now I'm more convinced as ever that, should there be a particularly awesome song you're looking forward to, keep checking for the Friday DLC announcements.   read

4:34 AM on 11.19.2010

I Need to Know: Can you spoil something that isn't a plot?

(Dtoid apparently missed this article when restoring old blog articles; I'm reposting it again for posterity! Thanks for keeping tabs on it, Flixist!) Originally dated October 19.

So there's a discussion on the Rock Band forums involving stores prematurely releasing Rock Band 3, and whether or not it's kosher to reveal anything despite the setlist being publicly available since Gamescom. Some people argue that the setlist is the only thing that can be really spoiled in a game like Rock Band, and even without thinking I can immediately say that were that true they wouldn't have been driving up the keyboard/harmony/Pro-mode by dropping small hints in demos and such.

Simply put: If you're demanding information that hasn't otherwise been divulged to you, you can be spoiled. It's all a matter of degree.

Let's remove this conversation from music-based gaming in general. (Shocker!) I'm going to quote from one of my posts in the above-linked thread:

The thing about non-plot spoilers is, sometimes they add to the cool factor, particularly if you haven't been spoiled about it beforehand.

To take an example outside of Rock Band, I remember the gasps of "AWESOME!" people had when watching the live demonstration of Assassin's Creed II, when Ezio took out two guards simultaneously. I had my metaphorical jaw drop when I saw it in action. It's nothing incredibly innovative, it definitely has no impact on the plot proper, but it announces itself in an incredibly stylish fashion and you can't help but grin.

After a while, it becomes something you take for granted, but the first few occasions you see and/or experience it, it's a brand new aspect of the toy you didn't know was there.

Small flourishes enrich the experience, especially if you haven't been spoiled on them. They're the hotel mint on the pillow you weren't expecting, or you discovering that her/his lips taste like strawberries.

I can even expound on this even further, where small details MAKE the experience what it is, and spoiling it can kill the surprise factor, particularly if it's something that's never been seen before. Do you remember The Matrix, and seeing Bullet Time on the screen for the first time? Was your mouth agape? The movie could've thought of other ways of handling Neo dodging bullets--THAT was the important bit, plot-wise--but it decided to go with the most fantastic way they could possibly think of at the time: cameras encircling Keanu Reeves.

It's true that you can still enjoy whatever has been spoiled, on its own or in context, plot-related or otherwise. Hell, after the whole HP6 spoiler internet wankery (which I will not reproduce here, juuuuuuuust in case) I just kinda "meh"ed and enjoyed the book anyway. Then I made sure to read HP7 immediately after purchasing it from the closest bookstore on release day (though that wouldn't have helped with the HP6 thingy since that happened prerelease). Otherwise people wouldn't own movies for the home or keep them after watching them the first time around.

However, if you ARE spoiled, you lose some of the surprise factor that you'd get if you tore into whatever you're going into without any preconceptions.

Also, if I'm going to experience it firsthand, I definitely don't want to have someone else spoil the taste of her lips to me.   read

9:13 AM on 11.11.2010

I. Um.

All I can say right now is that I hope the sky isn't falling.   read

3:21 PM on 10.21.2010

The only way to improve on Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney

If you haven't been following gaming news over the last couple of days, you may have missed the announcement of Professor Layton Vs. Ace Attorney.

This is the only way I can think of to make it even better.

3:24 AM on 09.14.2010

Tick, Tick, Boom: PowerGig goes for the low blow

Anyone following the plastic instrument genre with any sort of reasonable enthusiasm are aware of Power Gig: Rise of the SixString. The five of you who follow my blog may have seen my thoughts on the game, at least early impressions from what I've seen (and hadn't) on the web. Those dedicated to the plastic instrument genre and follow it with any sort of fervor have also probably caught wind of the events of the past twenty-four hours or so: a video detailing PowerGig's version of Pro mode (called Chord Mode), and PowerGig's fightin' words.

Let's break this down, starting with Power Gig's blog entry:

Power Gig will be the FIRST AND ONLY band game that uses a real six-string guitar as a controller when it hits stores October 19. We don’t know when the makers of Rock Band™ 3 will release their guitar controller. They haven’t said.***

*** In partnership with Fender Musical Instruments Corporation as announced on June 11, 2010.

Power Gig’s guitar bundle will be available for only $179.99. We don’t know what the price of the Rock Band™ 3 guitar controller will be. Again, they haven’t said a peep. Not one peep.

All this is technically true, although there's a lot of careful word choice going on here. Rock Band's proper six-string controller, the Fender Squier Stratocaster, fits all these conditions, in that there's no word on pricing, availability, or any such thing; most likely because only a month or two back they were still in the prototyping stage and only five or six existed at the time. Harmonix doesn't have any idea how far along that is because Fender's the one working on them.

However, we know about Mad Catz's Mustang Controller which, while it's not a real six-string guitar, can be used in game and as a MIDI Guitar controller. We know when THAT is coming out--within a week of RB3's release, if not at release time--and its price: $149.99.

Power Gig’s guitar is easy for ANYONE to pick up and play in most modes. Rock Band™ 3 has talked about this one. And as far as anyone can tell, you can only use their guitar controller in Pro Mode.* Sounds tricky.

* As revealed at PAX Prime 2010 during the Harmonix panel on Rock Band

Again, true for the Squier, and not for the Mustang. The Mustang works in GRYBO mode like any other guitar controller. I don't know about solo buttons, but when you're mostly just trying to play

Power Gig’s guitar is the ONLY real six-string guitar controller that works with almost ANY band games you already own.** From what we understand, you can only use Rock Band™ 3’s guitar controller in Rock Band™ 3 – and not even in the full game. Only in Pro Mode.*

Real guitars are better than fake guitars. So if Rock Band™ 3 really does have a real guitar, and it really comes out and people really play it…awesome!! At Power Gig, we believe in real music for all. So on October 19, we invite everyone to rock out on our 100% real six string guitar – for real. And that’s the difference.

* As revealed at PAX Prime 2010 during the Harmonix panel on Rock Band
** Go to for more information.

Let's cover this point by point:

* Power Gig wants people to "rock out for real." The word "Real" used nine times in the blog post, including the post title ("Power Gig and Rock Band 3: Real Guitars. Real Differences.") and "really" three times (all of which are being used as an accuser, implying that Rock Band 3 may be deceiving us). The motto they've been using for the game, apparently trademarked, is "rock it real." They obviously want us to associate the word "real" with the game.

Let's look at their "real" Chord Mode again.

So, if I understand this screenshot, I'm going to put my fingers on the fifth string (C), and on and orange frets? On the same string? Or are there five strings, and you need to place your finger on the fifth fret? At least in Rock Band 3, you'll understand the way the finger-waves work because you get real-time feedback on your finger positions. If you watch that video, you don't get any kind of feedback at all--not even what frets you're holding.

* "Pro guitars can only work in Pro mode." Not only is this patently untrue (factoring in the Mustang, which is going to be the Pro guitar MOST people are going to be using?), but it's a secondary factor. Pro mode is a completely different beast, and there SHOULD be a greater distinction between Pro and GRYBO mode. That the "Chord mode" is still derivative of GRYBO makes me doubtful, since it means that you only need to use five frets. How "real" is five frets?

* As everyone else and their dog has pointed out, how do you tout "rocking it real" when your drums literally do not exist? Are you really saying that air drums are more "real" than the potential of connecting actual electronic drums to your GH Kit/MadCatz MIDI adapter?

* Apropos of absolutely nothing else on this list, are you really branding your microphone the "MojoVox?" REALLY?

Between this blog post, a setlist with a few good songs and a whole lot I'll have to Grooveshark later on, and my natural predisposition towards Rock Band (seeing as only a fractional percent of my music DLC money has gone towards any other franchise), Power Gig gets no sale from me. This kind of marketing is about as classless as you can possibly get, and Dan Teasdale's counter-snipe is absolutely merited. And I hope the sales of PowerGig are as poor as their sportsmanship.

For real.   read

9:46 AM on 09.09.2010

A completely random thought about Geddy Lee (kinda)

On the RB forums, people occasionally refer to the art of playing bass and singing simultaneously as "Geddying," after the Geddy Lee, Rush's bassist/vocalist.

However, now that keyboards have been introduced, I think we need to use the verb "to Geddy" to more accurately refer to the ability to play bass, sing, AND play the keyboards all at once, since he does that, too.   read

12:36 PM on 08.15.2010

LoopyChew's RB3 wishlist mix tape 33 1/3: The Final Insult (w/minor RB3 thought)

Before I get into the rest of the my set list, something occurred to me about the Unison Bonus mechanics of the game, and I'm wondering how it's handled in RB3.

Unison Bonuses are the original Band Moments, for those of you who have never touched Rock Band and swear by Guitar Hero. When you play a Unison Bonus, if all the instruments involved manage to nail that particular section, everybody gets an extra 25% added to their energy bar on top of the standard 25% they get(meaning all the instruments have the ability to deploy Overdrive). Miss it, and the instruments that manage that section only get the normal 25% they would.

The problem is, as originally mapped in the game, all instruments that are playing must have at least one note per Unison Bonus section to get it, and you cannot have Energy-collecting phrases on multiple instruments without it being marked as Unison Bonus.

Most of the songs already listed in Rock Band, when they have keyboards, have keys that are pretty evident throughout. But what happens when you have keys that are mapped as sparingly as, say, "Polly"'s drums? On Polly, that was fine, as it was a pretty minimalistic song anyway, and relatively short. Keys can be used a lot more sparingly, however, and I don't think it makes too much sense for Unison Bonuses to be assigned to nothing but all instruments. Either that, or allow overlapping Energy-collecting phrases on multiple instruments. I'm not THAT picky.

Now, for the next leg of my wishlist, I have to thank one of my friends for asking to burn a couple of party mixes for her birthday party. It gave me the chance to run down my entire library at home, allowing me to review songs that aren't on my laptop or iPhone, but probably should be. Also, probably because of the way Destructoid works, I published Part 2, but because I waited a day after the initial draft to publish it (I wanted to post it the day after my whole RB3-DLC-backwards-compatibility discussion), it may have gotten lost amongst other day-old blog posts.

For your reference, Part 1 is available here, and Part 2 here. All the songs I've suggested to date have their own playlist at the bottom of this post. Now, onwards!


31. "The Inevitable Return of the Great White Dope" by The Bloodhound Gang (Hooray for Boobies, 2000)

First things first: This is conditional on "Like a scrotum, here it is in a nutshell" making it past the censors.

Beyond that, I have to concede that the majority of this song is about the rapping than it is the instrumentation. There's a lot here that could potentially be used for the different instruments, but a lot of them are pretty obviously synthesized. The bassline is actualy a sawtooth, the guitar would switch between a synth guitar and another keyboard, and the keys would be the organ that seems to permeate throughout the entire song.

"Fire Water Burn" would be fun, but I don't remember a keys line.

32. "It's My Life" by Bon Jovi (Crush, 2000)

Continuing the tradition of having one Bon Jovi song per non-band-specific Rock Band title, this seems to be the logical next-choice, except that it doesn't come from Slippery When Wet. There's tons of harmonizing and vocalizing, a piano/synth loop, and it's another one of his ridiculously huge hits. Another Ritchie Sambora guitar solo (significantly shorter and less technically impressive than the SWW ones, admittedly) and my former status as a 908er compel me to demand this song. I also have to have to say, this is the one I would want of all Bon Jovi's other songs.

Except, maybe, "Never Say Goodbye." That'd also be awesome.

33. "Me Plus One" by Annie (Anniemal, 2004)

Synthpop isn't poorly represented in Rock Band, to be sure, but I could do with more of it. There's a synth bass to be represented, a light guitar line reminiscent of INXS's "Need You Tonight," and vocal ooh line that could be represented by either harmonies or keys.

If there were a reasonable way to get "Chewing Gum" in there, I'd be cool with that, too.

34. "You Know It's Hard (Murder)" by The Crystal Method (Tweekend, 2001)

I've heard this song referred to both ways. An awesome breakbeat drum line, a constantly-changing guitar line, synth loops, and an actual vocals track makes this a TCM track that would be a great on-disc track on RB3.

The only other TCM song I'd put on-disc is their Filter collaboration with "Trip Like I Do," but Harmonix's "83 songs, 83 artists" line makes this more or less an unlikely choice (I suppose this could be a loophole). Also, I like this song better.

35. "The Audience is Rural" by Cut Chemist (The Audience Is Listening Theme Song, 2006)

This would make good use of harmonies with singing AND talkies at the same time, not to mention have a ridiculously awesome drum line, a chorded bassline that changes up pretty frequently, and a synth-sax line. Plus, bonus "Hey, it's that song!" points for being the lyricized version of the song people remember from the iPod commercials.

He did a collaboration with Ozomatli, if I remember correctly, that could probably work. Not quite as well, but it'd cover the ill-covered hip-hop-Latin genre. Actually, the more I listen to it, the more I'm convinced it'd make awesome DLC. But it's still actually an Ozomatli track that CC contributed to, so...

36. "Digital Love" by Daft Punk (Discovery, 2001)

Because I want Daft Punk, dammit. Not the greatest-known song, but definitely off their best-known disc and a single to boot. This song covers all instruments, has a small synth solo, an awesome guitar solo, and the singer autotunes his way through a melody.

I could get behind "Robot Rock," though.

37. "Come On Eileen" by Dexy's Midnight Runners (Too-Rye-Ay, 1982)

There is no good reason to not include this song outside of licensing. This hits the coveted 25-40 demographic of theirs by being a ridiculously popular one-hit-wonder of the 80s, has a memorable piano line, harmonies, and should be fun on most of the instruments. It also contains one of the few non-metal blast beats I can think of during the later accelerando. (Also barely audible in the original mix, a piano solo.)

38. "I Touch Myself" by Divinyls (Divinyls, 1991)

Also hits the same demo from my "Come On Eileen." Not the most exciting drum or keys line (there's an organ playing in the background), but harmonies, basslines and guitar lines that walk all over the place (plus a semi-guitar-solo), this would be an awesome addition to the library.

39. "Pato and Roger A Go Talk" by The (English) Beat (Special Beat Service, 1982)

None of you guys remember this group. I barely did, but for repeated viewings of Grosse Pointe Blank ("Mirror in the Bathroom") and Ferris Bueller's Day Off ("March of the Swivelheads" when Ferris is racing home towards the end of the movie), and a girl I dated being a fan of the group. Reggae/ska is under-represented, and this song with its toasting, syncopated keyboard and walky bass/guitar lines would be an excellent candidate for Rock Bandification.

40. "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Part 1" by The Flaming Lips (Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, 2002)

Because you can't get enough psychedelic rock, and this is my favorite representation of the genre. It also covers all the RB3 bases in terms of instrumentation and harmonies. Plus, anyone who hasn't already heard this song will have to try and sing lines like "You won't let those robots eat me" with a straight face. Should be a crowd-pleaser.

Alternatively, I guess "She Don't Use Jelly" would be the other demanded Flaming Lips track, being the one really big charter, while also including wacky lyrics that are difficult to sing without cracking up.

41. "40'" by Franz Ferdinand (Franz Ferdinand, 2004)

Let's get this out of the way: I'm a huge Franz Ferdinand fan. This is one of my favorite songs of theirs, and does a good job of covering all instrumental bases while being pretty well known (it's been used in a lot of dramedy trailers for movies for the past few years). It also has a memorable guitar riff (and a tremolo line) and a varied if not technically-complex bass line.

I'd be pretty much happy with more songs off of their debut album. "Auf Achse" would be another good one with a fairly memorable keyboard line.

42. "Low Rider" by War (Why Can't We Be Friends?, 1974)

All-out classic. The guitar line would be boring, but the bass line is memorable, and the song is filled with small drum fills here and there would keep it from getting too dull.

"Why Can't We Be Friends?" would be another obvious candidate, especially to remind people that it wasn't originally a Smash Mouth song.

43. "Worry About You" by Ivy (Long Distance, 2001)

Not quite shoegazer music but getting there, Dominique Durand's voice is hypnotic, and the cascading vocalizations during the bridge just take me away. The clock-tick guitar line works with the drifting keys (there are several layers of synths, and they could cover different synths over the different verses). The bassline is a very straightforward one, mostly meant to be practical here, but that's not a sin.

The other Ivy song I'd REALLY want in-game is "Feel So Free," but I figure I'd go with the one people may actualy have a chance of recognizing. Fewer people would recognize "Feel So Free" unless they were a big fan of Veronica Mars, where that song got its pre-release debut.

44. "This Love" by Maroon 5 (Songs About Jane, 2002)

I can only assume this wasn't in the original Maroon 5 pack because...well, actually, it was probably because it wasn't part of the new album, but now that piano and harmonies are in RB3, I can't see any reason they WOULDN'T put this song in there. It's arguably their biggest hit, should be fun on every instrument, and basically the only reason anyone would protest it is if they're both complexity-driven metal fans AND haters.

I've always been partial to "The Sun." That song has a really nice bass and key line, and would also work beautifully in game.

45. "The Time Is Now" by Moloko (Things to Make and Do, 2000)

Roisin Murphy's voice is dead sexy. Your voice cannot beat hers in sexiness, unless you are k.d. lang, Shirley Manson, or Chrissie Hynde. I guess that's a count against this song, since your voice cannot possibly match hers.

However, fantastic acoustic guitar AND bass (yes, acoustic bass!) lines and a synth line that could switch between piano and strings at the drop of a hat make this a great candidate for on-disc-ness, or barring that, DLC.

46. "99 Luftballons" by Nena (Nena, 1983)

If I need to justify this song, I will HURT you. Also, it HAS to be the original German version.

47. "Absolutely (Story of a Girl)" by Nine Days (The Madding Crowd, 2000)

More power-pop, with both keyboard and guitar solos (the former following up the latter), a bass line that doesn't jump out at you, but actually kicks a lot of ass, harmonies that jump out at you, and a chorus whose infectiousness is almost on par with "Alex Chilton" (no chorus can be as infectious as "Alex Chilton"'s). I really don't know any of their other songs, but this one is a clear winner in my book for on-disc-ness.

48. "Spit on a Stranger" by Pavement (Terror Twilight, 1999)

Because I wouldn't be able to claim indie-pop pretender status without listing these guys at all. This song has a very light key part, a beautiful guitar riff, a subtle if walky bassline, some choice drum fills, and low-to-the-point-of subliminal harmonies. This song is beautiful and you can't convince me otherwise. I want this song, now more than ever.

49. "Dirty Mind" by The Pipettes (We Are The Pipettes, 2006)

And on the opposite side of that, we have The Pipettes, which would probably be The Spice Girls but for the fact that the songs from the one album I'm aware of from them feels significantly more retro (if keeping the whole "riot grrl" thing going). This song has a guitar line that, while hard to notice at first, will grab you when you do. The bassline is also sufficiently walky, the keyboard clean and energetic, and obviously the girls singing harmonize (as they are paid to do) and do so well.

Also, the accents? Also very, very sexy. Not as sexy as Roisin Murphy, k.d. lang, Shirley Manson, or Chrissie Hynde, but still sexy.

50. "I'm Gonna Be" by The Proclaimers (Sunshine on Leith, 1989)

Don't think I need to justify this one, either, but I WILL note that it has a keyboard line, even if you don't hear it.

51. "A Change Would Do You Good" by Sheryl Crow (Sheryl Crow, 1997)

This song catches Sheryl Crow just after the Tuesday Night Music Club perkiness, with a badass fuzz bass, an acoustic guitar loop (and a guitar solo besides), a more-evident organ over a less-evident synth, and...drums. This is probably my favorite Sheryl Crow song overall, which probably explains its presence here over some of her other songs.

"All I Wanna Do" from TNMC would also be a good candidate, on account of it being her breakout hit, but I wouldn't refuse "Every Day is a Winding Road."

52. "Gangsters" by The Specials (Specials, 1979)

If I'm going to throw in suggestions like The Beat, The Specials also have to go in there. They could change between the two different guitars for the guitar line (there's one with the ska pick-up, and another one that functions as lead guitar, with occasional noodling, and a solo); the bassline is everywhere, there are both a piano and an organ, and a place where the drums start getting exciting more than functional.

I also request that the line "DON'T CALL ME SCARFACE!" be marked for Overdrive.

"Ghost Town" and "Little Bitch" are other good candidates from The Specials.

53. "Dub 56" by The Toasters (Dub 56, 1994)

Fine, one more ska suggestion. Energetic EVERYTHING in marked contrast to The Specials, with a guitar solo, a couple of drum fills lying about, and a bassline that while not "Maxwell Murder" insane still manages to get around, this would be a wonderful representation of the Third Wave/Modern Two-Tone genre in-game.

54. "Unbelievable" by EMF (Schubert Dip, 1991)

That bassline. Tell me you wouldn't want to play that bassline. Or that piano line, for that matter. The guitar manages to be interesting for a while (did YOU remember there was a solo in this song?), too. The drums get some variation, too.

55. "A Girl Like You" by Edwyn Collins (Gorgeous George, 1994)

That thing I was saying about sexy voices? I meant female voices. Edwyn Collins has a fantastic voice that I think guys would have problems matching up to. The guitars and the piano have the obvious advantage when it comes to the instruments in this song, I guess, but there's
no love lost for the drums, which has a few fills. The bassline is mostly a workman's bassline, but damned if its one main riff isn't a hot one.

56. "Nothing Is the Same" by Grand Funk Railroad (Closer to Home, 1970)

One of the few times I'm aware of that GFR has lived up to the "Funk" part of their name, this song doesn't contain keyboards. However, it is in fact a fantastic song for all the other instruments. The guitar doesn't stop noodling, the bassline struts around like it owns the place, the drums do not stop with the fills, and minor harmonies support a wonderful vocal melody.

And then you get to the jam.

Seriously, wait until you get about two and a half minutes in. Some of you may rip it as being derivative of "Working Man," except I believe "Working Man" didn't come out until 1974, meaning this song was first.

And then when you think it's about to climax into a BRE, you have another break which just kicks ass and takes names.

It finally starts coming to a climax by quieting down, but not without spending most of that slowdown noodling on both guitar and bass and drums making fills like crazy.

Then you get to the BRE.

Seriously, this is one song I desperately want for the game. Hopefully, now you do, too.

[embed]181077:32112[/embed]   read

10:54 AM on 08.10.2010

LoopyChew's RB3 wishlist mix tape, part deux

I'm going to throw ten more songs out here for your perusal, and see what you think. WARNING: None of these songs are over twenty years old, and still no heavy metal.

21. "Rome Wasn't Built in a Day" by Morcheeba (Fragments of Freedom, 2000)
Probably one of my favorite non-instrumentals off of FoF ("Coming Down Gently" is a personal favorite of mine and I break out into happy dancing whenever I hear it, but it's an instrumental), I would argue that this song is well-enough known to be a bullet point on the back cover, and it admirably covers the four instruments and harmonies. There's a guitar solo, a funky bassline, and chordtastic keys. Plus, you know, female vocals.

The other contender I had was "Be Yourself," which I think would work pretty well, too.

22. "Way Down in the Hole" by The Blind Boys of Alabama (Spirit of the Century, 2001)
Oh, look, he's using another song repurposed for a television series. Still, The Wire's first-season cover of the Tom Waits classic ACTUALLY USES INSTRUMENTS, automatically making it better than the original for Rock Banding purposes; it's got a guitar solo on top of what's already a breezy guitar line, a sweet bassline, and light drums. I could've sworn I heard keyboards, but I guess not. Maybe the harmonica could be used for keys instead.

23. "Deeper Underground" by Jamiroquai (Synkronized, 1999)
Ah, Jamiroquai. The lack of electro-funk in Rock Band can be made up with by this one track. It's not the most exciting stringed-instrument track--the guitar and the bass are more or less the same--but it's got an awesome synth line.

It was a toss-up between this and "Virtual Insanity," which would work awesomely for the piano but for the fact that we're only transcribing the right hand. Also, I'd think the guitar line would be even less exciting than the one for Deeper Underground, which even gets a mini-solo at one point.

24. "Something Is Not Right With Me" by the Cold War Kids (Loyalty to Loyalty, 2008)
Happy Jumpy indie rock! Bright piano! Octavey bassline! This isn't a difficult song by any means, but can you imagine your singer getting drunk and belting this one out?

On second thought, maybe it'd be better not to.

25. "When They Fight, They Fight" by the Generationals (Con Law, 2009)
Happy Jumpy indie rock! Bright piano! Walky bassline! This isn't a difficult*gets shot in head*

It was actually a tough decision for me between this and "Nobody Could Change Your Mind," which I was considering just for the earworm that is the super-high tinkly piano.

26. "Cold War" by Janelle Monáe (The ArchAndroid, 2010)
My little brother introduced me to The ArchAndroid a couple of months ago, promising my mind would be blown. It was. This particular song is another great showcase for female vocalists and has a little something for everybody--the drums have a pretty slick mix of fills, the guitarists have a solo, the bass is everywhere, and the organ gets in a few licks.

"Tightrope" would have been the other big song to consider, but I don't think it does as a good a job at covering all the instruments the way "Cold War" does.

27. "Walk Like a Panther" by the All Seeing I feat. Tony Christie (Single, 1999)
I have a weakness for this song, in both incarnations, for different reasons. This was how I was first introduced to it, and here it's got all instruments covered. Tony Christie's voice and the jangly guitar set the mood to this song effectively, and all instruments put together are something to behold.

27a. "Walk Like a Panther" by The Pretenders (Loose Screw, 2002)
Change Christie for Chrissie, and you get a completely different mood. Whereas the former felt like a 50's sci-fi B-movie (the theremin makes me think "alien invasion" and the way the song skews the balance towards treble makes me think of old televisions), giving the vocal duties to Chrissie Hynde and amping as much of the bass as possible turns the song into weaponized sex. The trade-off is that the instrumentation becomes much simpler, losing the keyboard (except at the very end) in favor of richer vocals and more precise harmonies.

Still, I could go for the song either way. They're both included on the playlist, but I'd only want one of the two. Also, if we get the original, maybe we can get another Pretenders song instead.

28. "Beautiful Beat" by Nada Surf (Lucky, 2008)
Because I can't get enough power pop. I think this song does a very good job of covering the bases instrumentally--the verse is for drummers who thought that "Maps" was fun but stomping on the bass every beat was a bit excessive; the keys can trade between piano and strings and back--and the song itself is one of the catchier songs to hit the last couple of years.

29. "One of These Days" by Room Eleven (Six White Russians and a Pink Pussycat, 2006)
I discovered this group in 2007 after seeing the album name. After hearing this track (the first song after a brief intro track), I purchased it immediately. More of the walky bassline, easy wah-wah guitar, keyboard solo, and light jazzy beat. Jazz isn't represented nearly enough in RB, and I think this would be a good entry.

Alternatively, swap guitar for ukulele and include "Lalala Love" off of Mmm... Gumbo?, and we'll have a gumbo jazz entry instead.

30. "Cannonball" by The Breeders (Last Splash, 1993)
Anyone who knows this song (read: anyone born between 1975 and 1985) understands why it has to be in Rock Band. It lacks keyboards (as far as I can tell), but its driving bassline, twangy-then-insanely -distorted grunge guitars, and ...I don't know how to describe its drums, quite honestly, but it's not going to be easy for most people.

I'll continue adding to my wishlist as time goes by, but for now, this'll do. I hope. For now, enjoy this compiled playlist of all the songs I've listed thus far, including the ones from my last wishlist.

[embed]181077:32112[/embed]   read

4:21 AM on 08.10.2010

Would you even care?: RB3 DLC and non-backwards compatibility

So Harmonix Developers, about 55 minutes into the latest OXM podcast, confirm that RB3 DLC will not be compatible with RB2 (and by extension, RB1; also incredibly unlikely to work with Lego RB). Giant Bomb had mentioned that Harmonix told them this, but didn't have a quote attributed directly. This is the first official confirmation of what was to now a very credible rumor.

Now, before I discovered Dtoid's community blog functionality, a lot of my ranting about the GH and RB franchises happened on my LiveJournal. For example, not quite a year ago, I left a fairly sizable rant basically screaming at Guitar Hero 5 for not allowing backwards compatibility with World Tour, and justifying it by saying that "the advancements and innovations made to the franchise" made it incompatible.

Dtoid sums up the "advancements and innovations" as "band moments, Expert+ drumming, and the new vocal star power." I don't know how vocal star power works in GH5, but pretty much everything I'm seeing on that list screams to me of MIDI notes that could easily be ignored in GHWT, if they applied a patch. I don't understand how any of that can't be stripped down (read: ignored) for GHWT.

Had RB3 simply introduced Pro Mode, I would've said something similar; it shouldn't take much, programming-wise, to ignore the Pro Guitar/Bass charts, particularly if it were only looking at the standard charts anyway), and as it's been established since Pro Drums have been charted (and ignored) since RB1), I need not embellish on that.

No, it's the keys that were what initially kept me (and most people) in doubt about the backwards compatibility in the first place, particularly in light of Giant Bomb's article. (They had nothing to gain from the rumor.) And as sad as this news is to me (I'm a firm believer in the "Rock Band as a platform" and took RB2 and RB1's shared song library as a precedent that future Rock Band core titles would be backwards-compatible), I can't say that it's not merited. Not because of any new game functions the way GH5 had it, but because of new musical functions introduced.

That, more than anything else, justifies the lack of backwards compatibility; you can't simply tell the game to "ignore the keyboard part," and to patch in something in the existing games that says, "OBTW, we might have an extra track you've got to mix in at thiiiiiiiiis volume" is also more than a little bit on the difficult side.

Still, I can't help but feel a little disappointed that a few people here and there are going to be left behind. For the rest of us, though, here's to a new instrument, and to the hopes that, as mentioned and suggested about a minute and a half after the non-backwards-compatibility disclosure on the OXM podcast, they manage to update older DLC.   read

8:46 AM on 07.23.2010

«¿Cama, cama?» Come on, baby: Foreign languages in Rock Band

So apparently most of my posts, particularly dealing with Rock Band, will be headed by lyrics of some sort. Good to know!

So, the Rock Band forums are abound with a discussion that turned from how Juanes is making his Rock Band debut next week to a debate as to whether or not Rock Band should include more fully foreign-language tracks on-disc, spawning as far as I can tell from one HeyRiles' post about supporting foreign-language DLC but not on-disc.

This was followed up by said debate. Some gems from this thread include:

"One argument is that most foreign (european/asian) learn english in school from a very young age so they'll often grow a liking for english speaking bands while most english speaking people learn a foreign language in their teens and often give it up as soon as the test is over."

"Isn't English the second language for most of the bilingual people? ...since I'm American and apparently only speak one language, I have no interest in singing songs in languages I do not speak."

So let me make something clear: Through a strange series of circumstances of which my gaming life has absolutely no bearing, I happen to live in Geneva, Switzerland, having moved from the East Coast (908 represent!) during the PlayStation 1 era. As an American abroad, and with a broad spectrum of friends from all over the Eurasian continent, both Anglophone and Francophone, let me say this: NOT EVERYONE SPEAKS ENGLISH. I live in the city where the European branch of the United Nations is located, the site of of tons of multinational corporations including EA Europe, where the private banking for a lot of filthily wealthy people that unfortunately does not include me is, and for reasons which confound me also happens to be a tourist destination due to a giant water jet and a clock made out of flowers. This place is BUILT for people to speak the remarkably common language of English.

And yet, I know an entire group of folks, all of them rhythm gamers, of which maybe two or three of them speak English, and the rest of them are only French speaking. A gospel choir of which I am a member contains numerous people who will happily sing gospel songs in English but otherwise cannot communicate in it; they insist someone explain the lyrics to them, and at performances, our conductor will explain the same to the audience.

These people may have learned English in high school, but trust me when I say most of them will have forgotten them in much the same way you may have forgotten whatever foreign language you studied in high school. Surprisingly, a lot of them tend to listen to primarily French tracks. They sing along to songs by Indochine and Kyo and I look at them the way they do to me if I start chirping along to DMB--with pure confusion and a "what?" Heck, even I have problems identifying songs that were popular after I moved because they never made it across the ocean (case in point: "Inside Out" by Eve 6, aka "Beautiful Oblivion" in the same way most people never remember the actual name of Portishead songs). However, I at least feel comfortable singing songs in English.

However, despite living here for years on years (case in point: I moved before that Eve 6 song became popular) and learning French well enough to hold a conversation without being prompted for a few minutes if I want to switch to English, I do not feel comfortable at ALL singing songs in French, aside from the old-timey ones that people learn in middle-school French classes (note: I actually studied Spanish through my time in high school). I have a Chinese friend who will only sing the really, really well-known karaoke hits at karaoke bars in English, and will only sing songs in Mandarin otherwise. Some of the luckier students who were raised with both languages and both Anglophone and Francophone cultures will have the best of both worlds.

But no, not everyone is bilingual, and not everyone will feel comfortable singing songs in English. Groups we consider cherished classics will be met with blank stares, and the song you think EVERYBODY IN THE WORLD should know, surprisingly, isn't.

I think it's a good idea to throw in a couple furriner-talk songs onto the lot, and I see no reason they shouldn't be on-disc. It would broaden the international appeal the same way throwing in the EU tracks on to the RB1 PAL disc did (now if only they had more popular songs from the different countries), in that they could put some of THOSE tracks onto the game cover instead of songs they're less likely to recognize.

I didn't particularly enjoy GH:WT, and I will admit to mocking week after week of European Track Packs when it was released, but I actually think they had a good idea in releasing more international music, and including foreign-language songs on-disc. I also thought it was awesome that Juanes found his way onto the RB3 disc, even if I don't know the song at all (I actually kind of enjoy singing La Camisa Negra because it found its way into clubs here) for much the same reason: music from all over should be considered if it's fun to play, because music gaming should be an all-inclusive experience, for people everywhere.

I'd compile a mix-tape list of foreign-language songs I'd love to have in Rock Band, but the point is kinda that I don't know which songs to pick, seeing as I'd have to try for mass appeal for different markets. If anyone here wants to make suggestions, I'd be glad to hear it.   read

8:28 AM on 07.22.2010

LoopyChew's RB3 wishlist mix tape

I think I've already defined this blog as primarily a Rock Band ranting page, so I figure I'll throw out a few songs I'd like, much in the vein of Xzyliac's post. He's already got pretty similar tastes, it appears, but I have a few alternative proposals for some of the artists he suggests, and a few other suggestions to complement what he's got (you'll notice my heart is firmly planted in the mid-90's, I think). I hope.

So, in no particular order:

1. "Vow" by Garbage (Garbage, 1995)
While Xzyliac has already suggested "Cherry Lips," and as much as I love that song, this is the one I'd want to play (as a plastic guitarist first and foremost). There's a synth string part in the background before it gives way to a piano, so keyboardists won't be (TOO) bored.


For me, most any songs off of the eponymous album would be good. "Queer" would be one for the singer and potentially the keys (switching between piano, organ, and possibly flutesynth). "Only Happy When It Rains," already in GH5, is a fantastic song whose tremolo strings could get the key treatment as well. I'm pretty sure "Supervixen" was one of the songs that brought me to puberty, but the I don't know how that'd translate keyswise--I'm primarily looking for songs for all instruments.

2. "The Distance" by Cake (Fashion Nugget, 1996)
One of the classic Cake tracks, and something I fully believe would be fun on all instruments. McCrea's vocal tracks are always infectious, the bass and guitar lines are fairly varied, and admittedly the drums are lacking in variety, but they're crisp, clean, and attached to an awesome song. The melodica part, small as it is, makes the song, and is incomplete without it. Chart horns to the keys to fill it out more.


"Frank Sinatra" is another alternative off this album, and while I always liked "Short Skirt, Long Jacket," its presence as the theme song to Chuck makes it another standout in my head.

3. "We Used to Be Friends" by The Dandy Warhols (Welcome to the Monkey House, 2003)
Speaking of popular songs co-opted for television show themes, Veronica Mars' theme song was always a favorite of mine. It's another song with an undeniably catchy synth part, and as low-key as the verses are, the chorus more than makes up for it.

(not the original music video; embedding for that is disabled

While "Bohemian Like You" was an option high on my list (what with the organ part), the fact that it is theoretically on Rock Band Network means it's a no-show here. "Boys Better" and "The Last Junkie on Earth" from ...Come Down are also excellent options--PROBABLY EVEN BETTER than "We Used to Be Friends"--but this is MY list, and I can do what I want to with it.

4. "Hey Beautiful" by The Solids (How I Met Your Mother soundtrack, 2005)
And in a reversal, a TV show theme song that...okay, it's not particularly popular, but the song itself is really, really fun to listen to and features some good instrumentals.


...okay, maybe RBN 2.0. Still!

5. "Hush" by Deep Purple (Shades of Deep Purple, 1968)
Another personal favorite song of mine, and the addition of the awesome bassline and organ make this the superior Rock Band 3 format version compared to the Joe South or Kula Shaker versions (I'd believed that the Kula Shaker version would appear on Lego Rock Band for some reason). I loved playing this song on GH2 360, and I want the chance to play it here, particularly with organ solo instead of guitar solo.


The two alternatives I could think of are from different albums: "Speed King" off of In Rock--which I don't think needs explanation for anyone who's heard it (if not, GO LISTEN)--and "Lazy" off of Machine Head, with STARTS the crazy instrumental jamming before the vocals break in.

6. "Keys to the City" by The Go! Team (Proof of Youth, 2007)
Okay, it's very, VERY hard to justify keys in this song, so I won't. However, I've wanted to play this in Rock Band for so long I can't help but put it in here.


Either this or "Titanic Vandalism." While I'm aware that Sub Pop has already slated most of their catalog for RBN, I'm thinking the sample clearance for The Go! Team is a bit much for RBN rights to handle properly. That, plus the Bleach tracks demonstrate that not all Sub Pop songs are going through RBN.

7. "Land of the Freak" by King Khan and the Shrines (What Is?!, 2007)
Chart horns to keys and we'll be good. Right? RIGHT?


8. "The Rascal King" by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones (Let's Face It, 1997)
As a Bosstones fan, I was really happy to have "Where'd You Go?" in RB2, and I'd like them to come back. "The Impression That I Get" is on Band Hero and features a nice, subtle organ part; the one in "The Rascal King" gets a moment to itself. Plus, it's got the Ska mute-chord-alternation strumming that cheeses everyone off!

That's HMXer Ben Carr "conducting."

Alternatively, I'd go for "Someday I Suppose" because that song, regardless of keys or not, is AWESOME. "Hell of a Hat" is another choice I'd go for.

9. "Love Shack" by the B-52's (Cosmic Thing, 1989)
While I've been insanely focused on the addition of keys to RB3, this song would be perfect for harmonies, and would get the women of the party to sing, too. I'm pretty sure this song is on there, just not announced.


Xzyliac's proposal of "Rock Lobster" is another good one.

10. "Long Train Runnin'" by The Doobie Brothers (The Captain and Me, 1973)
Because this song is JUST. THAT. COOL.

Don't mind the title saying "Superstition," it's "Long Train Runnin'."

Alternatively, "Listen to the Music."

11. "Ma Meeshka Mow Skwoz" by Mr. Bungle (Disco Volante, 1995)
How you chart the vocals and guitar is not important, I WANT THIS SONG.


12. "TKO" by Le Tigre (This Island, 2004)
Le Tigre fans are going to kill me for suggesting something off of their commercial release, but this song has its share of really awesome sounding hooks, and would work very well on all instruments. This has been on my Rock Band profile wish list for a long while now, and I continue to hope it gets released.


"Nanny Nanny Boo Boo" is less suited, but a fun-sounding song regardless. Xzyliac's suggestion of "Get Off the Internet" is a good one as well.

13. "Gel" by Collective Soul (Collective Soul, 1995)
There are many, many Collective Soul songs perfect for the Guitar/Drums/Vox/Bass format, and few that include keys. This one has the barest excuse for an organ line in the background, but it is also one of the more straight-up rocking songs they had, and one whose inclusion in Rock Band would make me UNF happy.


I would be perfectly happy accepting "The World I Know" as an alternative, with the keys taking over for strings.

14. "Hazy Shade of Winter" by The Bangles (Less Than Zero soundtrack, 1987)
More Bangles, more harmonies, an even more awesome cover of an already awesome Simon and Garfunkel song. What more can you ask for?


15. "Rebellion (Lies)" by The Arcade Fire (Funeral, 2004)
I'm not sure any more justification beyond "It's The Arcade Fire" is necessary, but this is one of those songs where a proper group dynamic will make the song incredibly epic--and that's not a term I use lightly. I don't even know if there's a guitar part in there, but I'm sure there must be. On the flip side, this song would likely be (gasp!) boring in solo play. I'm biased because this was the song that really stuck out when they performed live.


"Keep the Car Running" off of Neon Bible would also be great for many of the same reasons, but likely suffer the same drawbacks.

16. "Jesus He Knows Me" by Genesis (We Can't Dance, 1991)
An awesome synth track, fast-paced, and easily recognizable to the mainstream buyer.


17. "Shut Up and Let Me Go" by The Ting Tings (We Started Nothing, 2008)
Featuring non-stop disco drumming (and a drum solo thrown in), a catchy set of talkies, and a "cute" guitar hook and you have yourself a winning combination!


"Great DJ" would probably work well, too. Maybe better.

18. "Magic Carpet Ride" by Steppenwolf (Steppenwolf the Second, 1968)


19. "Car Song" by Elastica (Elastica, 1995)
Anyone who recognizes the name Elastica is asking, "WHAT? NOT CONNECTION?" And to this, I say, "no," even though I think it's probably their best song, with Mad Dog God Dam as a second. That song would have been awesome as an opening song for the Guitar Hero games, and it'll make for awesome DLC. This song, however, has both harmonies and a synth part, and they rock. Plus, the video is a tribute to Ghostbusters. How can you say no to that?


20. "Pictures of Matchstick Men" by Status Quo (Picturesque Matchstickable Messages, 1968)
Because I can never get too much psychedelic rock, and this has some fantastic synth and vocals, I leave you with this one last song.


There are many, many more songs I want in Rock Band 3, but it's getting late and I've a concert to get to. I'd like to see other suggestions, and I apologize for the lack of metal--I'm not a big metal person!   read

9:53 AM on 07.19.2010

Power Gig, won't you ease my worried mind?

Between the little information available to date about the game and Cena's recent report of Power Gig's presence at PAX East/E3, I honestly believe that this game will be very much DOA, deservedly or not. (And from what I've been seeing, it looks like a lot of it will be deserved.) I am also the only person in the world who could possibly have predicted this, and I happen to have the Brooklyn Bridge for sale and the keys are in my pocket here.

Okay, while I'm obviously not playing at the most dangerous of guesses here, I'm going to jot down everything I can think of to justify the statement, in hopes of capturing what I think everyone else is basically thinking:

Seven45 Studios has had its presence at two of the major gaming conventions to date--one for consumers, one for tradespeople--and it's kind of difficult to believe that with only a few months left before its intended release (Cena suggests late October, after GH6 and around RB3's release), we know next to nothing about its setlist or even its most highly-touted feature: the ability to play real guitar at higher difficulties.

Meanwhile, its competitors--the two horses in what is nominally a two-horse race--have revealed a lot about their own products, not to mention Rock Band 3's announced Pro Mode completely takes the wind out of Power Gig's sails. (I have a previous blog post detailing the concerns I have about RB3's pro mode, too, by the way.)

Currently, the only footage available of the game has (what may be generously called) sub-par graphics, a lackluster-looking interface, and three instruments. Meanwhile, Guitar Hero has shown that their custom choreography work hasn't been done in vain (while I'm not going to actually buy GH6 any time soon because I'm avoiding throwing my lot in with anything involving Activision, the footage of Bohemian Rhapsody was entertaining to look at) and RB3 looks to at least maintain if not improve on the previous game's graphics engine. Four instruments have been the de facto standard since 2007, and RB3 is adding a fifth, not to mention harmonies were also added last year, inviting a theoretical sixth and seventh player to the mix (although you'll probably have your fair share of voxtars, voxbasses, voxdrums, and voxkeys if your plastic players can sing as well).

They've been trying to convince people that the game is better because of the more realistic guitar, but at the same time are trying to convince people that their drums are better despite being more abstract. GH pretty much celebrates the fact that you're playing on a toy guitar (how else do you explain stripping it down to a single plastic stick with detachable and customizable wings?), while RB3 allows you the choice of either the more realistic version or the more abstracted version.

In short, everything Power Gig has announced and shown, with the exception of their artist exclusives, has already been one-upped by the established franchises.

Basically, there's only one move Power Gig can pull off that could give them any sort of an edge, and that's announce their setlist (and, if they want to fold with any sort of dignity, demonstrate the rest of their features) at the same time as the competition. Presence-wise, they're up against franchises backed by giant corporations, so the ONLY thing they can hope for is good word-of-mouth. That Clapton, Matthews, and Kid Rock have signed into the Power Gig camp is one thing; they need to try and press that advantage (although I don't know if you can say anything involving Kid Rock's guitars are an "advantage"). Showing us footage of "Layla" on medium did NOT help; they need to show the kind of crazy guitar wankery you can get to on expert, particularly since their whole schtick is about "realistic guitar."

Right now, the fact that they're playing their cards so close to their chest basically suggests one of two things: 1) they honestly believe that their product is so good that the river will beat whatever meager hands previous streets might have suggested AND that it will generate enough buzz to take some wind out of the competing franchise's sails, or 2) this is the biggest and most transparent bluff of all time. Guess which one my money's on.   read

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