Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Lego Rock Band

Review: LEGO Rock Band

2:00 PM on 11.30.2009 // Samit Sarkar

A year ago, the music game genre was at its peak. Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero World Tour had recently launched to rave reviews, and looking back, it appears that the developers of those games -- Harmonix and Neversoft, respectively -- saw the success of their products as a mandate to churn out rhythm games at a faster pace.

But considering the ever-deepening recession, how retailers are overflowing with sizable boxes full of plastic instruments, and lower-than-expected sales of The Beatles: Rock Band and Guitar Hero 5, one wonders if the music game market has reached saturation. LEGO Rock Band is Harmonix’s family-friendly game, a direct competitor to Activision’s Band Hero, and before its release earlier this month, questions abounded as to whether its existence was warranted. Hit the jump to find out.


LEGO Rock Band (PlayStation 3 [reviewed], Xbox 360, Wii, DS)
Developer: Harmonix / Traveller’s Tales
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment / MTV Games
Released: November 3, 2009
MSRP: $49.99 (PS3/360/Wii) / $29.99 (DS)

Even when LEGO Rock Band was just a rumor, gamers were extremely skeptical of such a game: sure, Traveller’s Tales had mixed the LEGO brand quite well with franchises like Star Wars and Indiana Jones, but what could LEGO possibly bring to Rock Band, aside from a mere aesthetic overhaul? They were right to ask that question -- while the LEGO theme makes LEGO Rock Band charming at every turn, the game mostly feels like a Rock Band 2 re-skin, and in the wake of the sublime The Beatles: Rock Band, a step backward for Harmonix’s beloved franchise.

LEGO Rock Band’s visuals take after Rock Band 2; the art direction for both games is very similar, with the same menu styles and background patterns comprising the design. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since Rock Band 2 was an exemplar of graphic design, but it’s somewhat disappointing considering the great leaps between Rock Band and Rock Band 2, and between Rock Band 2 and The Beatles: Rock Band.

Another letdown is the lack of informational and gameplay tweaks that The Beatles: Rock Band included. For instance, this game offers no unpause countdown, and no indication of instrumental/vocal part difficulty on the song select screen. Options aside from lefty flip (such as audio volume) can’t even be accessed from the in-game pause menu. If these seem like minor niggles, remember that The Beatles: Rock Band generated many new Rock Band fans; people who bought that game will be expecting the LEGO Rock Band interface to at least be up to par. So if you thought that The Beatles: Rock Band started a revolution, then brother, you’ll have to wait until Rock Band 3.


The game disc features only 45 songs, a far cry from the 84 tracks included in Rock Band 2 (and even 13 fewer selections than the original Rock Band). Granted, LEGO Rock Band is “value-priced” at $49.99, and you can export all of the on-disc songs to your PS3 or 360 hard drive for use in Rock Band or Rock Band 2. But that’ll run you $10 for 45 songs, whereas the song export key for 55 of Rock Band’s 58 songs cost $5. Speaking of the game’s songs, the LEGO Rock Band soundtrack is all over the place. Harmonix apparently wanted to include a wide enough variety in the set list to ensure that fans of all kinds of music would find something to enjoy, but here, it just comes off as scattershot. And LEGO Rock Band seems to have a higher percentage of music that I’d term just plain bad, which doesn’t help.

Legitimately fun-for-everyone songs like the Ghostbusters theme and Europe’s “The Final Countdown” appear alongside seemingly random selections such as “Breakout” by Foo Fighters. And decades-old classics like “Fire” by The Jimi Hendrix Experience and David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” are juxtaposed with stuff from artists you’ve never heard of (We the Kings -- huh?), most of whom are from the 2000s. In fact, the majority of the soundtrack is from the current decade, and in my opinion, the game suffers because of that. That’s not to say that the past ten years haven’t seen some great music, or that there aren’t a few lesser-known gems in LEGO Rock Band -- it’s just that many of the songs and artists here don’t seem deserving of enshrinement in a music game set list. (Were there lots of fans clamoring for the inclusion of Lostprophets or Boys Like Girls? Really?) But maybe I’m just bitter at Harmonix for making me play through songs by Good Charlotte, Rascal Flatts, and Korn. Ick. And with only 45 songs available, you’ll be replaying songs more than a few times (although, in the “choose your set list” gigs, you can play any kid-safe songs that are already on your PS3/360 hard drive from Rock Band or DLC).


Soundtrack idiosyncrasies aside, LEGO Rock Band is relatively similar to prior Rock Band games. The meat and potatoes is, as always, the Story Mode, which follows the same basic non-linear structure as the career mode in Rock Band 2: you play songs to earn money (“studs” instead of cash, here) and unlock better transportation to new venues, which are different locations in the story instead of cities. To their credit, Harmonix and Traveller’s Tales did a great job infusing the career mode with LEGO-ness; I couldn’t help but laugh at the funny, cute story cut-scenes and little LEGO dudes. And LEGO Rock Band introduces a LEGO-ized fail mechanic, too. You can’t actually fail songs, regardless of difficulty, but if you miss enough notes, you’ll lose all the studs you’ve accrued to that point in the song. However, you can regain them by getting back on track. It’s essentially like rings in Sonic the Hedgehog.

Important story points are crystallized in “Rock Power Challenges,” which provide a background for playing a particular song. One of the challenges tasks you with ridding a mansion of ghosts by playing -- you guessed it -- “Ghostbusters.” The descriptions for these songs usually involve the phrase “use the power of rock to _____,” and the game’s cut-scenes set up the events in a charming manner. During Rock Power Challenges, you can fail, and you have to be especially proficient, since there’s no Overdrive, Bass Groove, drum fills, or solo sections available. The Story Mode’s difficulty curve is completely out of whack: early on, I had to contend with “Grace” by Supergrass, a song rated at 4/5 difficulty, after I had completed a few easier songs.


Ultimately, I couldn’t shake the feeling that all of this amounts to little more than window dressing. And that’s the main problem with this game, a microcosm of the current state of the music game genre. A lot of work clearly went into crafting the Story Mode, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a different package for the same old Rock Band setup: play songs, buy stuff to outfit your band with, and travel to other places where you play more songs. This is the fourth full-band game from Harmonix (not counting Rock Band Unplugged for the PSP), and the core mechanic, while still fun, is getting stale by now. There are enough great songs on the disc to entice people to buy the game as a track pack to be exported to their console’s hard drive, but the LEGO branding doesn’t change up the experience enough to convince me that the 45 songs here couldn’t have been released as DLC. Hopefully, Rock Band 3 will.

Score: 6.5 -- Alright (6s may be slightly above average or simply inoffensive. Fans of the genre should enjoy them a bit, but a fair few will be left unfulfilled.)



Lego Rock Band - Reviewed by Samit Sarkar
Amicable - A presentable but unmemorable time. Focusing on the bright spots helps, and I appreciate the effort, but I won't be playing this repeatedly.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Samit Sarkar,
 Follow Blog + disclosure

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
Lego Rock Band

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!

Backward Compatibility Is More Important Than Ever (Maybe)

It's beginning to look a lot like censorship.

Solar Pony Django's Review on: Animal Crossing Amiibo Festival

Indivisible exposes why forced diversity and its proponents keep failing

Steam Controller Review

RAE - Back in Town

Thankful it's ov

Half - Life 3 FINALLY 100% confirmed...maybe.

Surprisingly... I'm *really* enjoying Fallout 4!!

Where the Hell is Breath of Fire?

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

voex avatarvoex
*Sigh* time to figure out how much a Fallout 4 capable PC upgrade is gonna cost me...
ooktar avatarooktar
Ordered this on Thanksgiving and surprisingly got here today. The case is amazing and Now I got all the Persona Cards. [img][/img] [img][/
Jiraya avatarJiraya
You probably already saw this - but it is gold - Fallout 4 One Punch Man Mod [youtube][/youtube]
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
I just got my new Mega64 Blu-Ray! But now I have a problem... Do I watch that or keep watching Claymore...
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
Hey, my new blog is up! A few days ago! Go read it! Before......before its too late. Please. *walls start crumbling, reality starts oozing out, things begin to eeeeeeeeeeeeeee
Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
Alright so I'm looking for a few games for my newly repurchased DS. I'm already set on RPG as it's all I have pretty much. Were there any good puzzle games? I've heard good things about Professor Layton.
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
I made chocolate and banana cake because why not.
able to think avatarable to think
After hearing Persona 4 Dancing All Night come out of my surround sound system; I can safely say my $20 Playstation TV purchase was totally justified. The bass on Best Friends (Banvox Remox) literally shook the floor. It's freaking awesome!
LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
I wish I could say I made this 'shop. [img][/img]
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Triple brown, triple brown, triple brown meow. Triple brown, triple brown, triple brown meow.
Alfie avatarAlfie
Was on the front page and was greeted by a new post, which I clicked to find "You cannot see the future". Then refreshed and it was gone. I saw Chris's post on Eight Days' cancellation as it was brought, new and unready, into the world! Rare and wonderful
Archelon avatarArchelon
Community Question: Have you ever purchased a game only to regret it later and then sell it/give it away, only to even later regret selling it and wind up purchasing it again?
gajknight avatargajknight
A decadent staircase adorned in gold rises into infinite darkness. Writhing beings beyond comprehension lurk in the shadows, their mere presence encroaching on the edges of human understanding. A blood moon glows . I am losing my mind. I need more eyes...
Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
We need to be implanted with microchips because I'd really like to know how much time I've spent playing different video games my entire life.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
If there are rainbows in Xenoblade Chronicles X, Reyn must be in it as well. You can't have a rainbow without Reyn, baby!
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
I really hope Xenoblade become it's own franchise, it has way too much potential to simply being reduced to 2 games.
Sotanaht avatarSotanaht
Touchable Holograms? When this eventually matures and hits market, almost all our regulars will vanish for weeks.
Serethyn avatarSerethyn
Xenoblade Chronicles Wii for €10? Sure, Nintendo, don't mind if I do!
KnickKnackMyWack avatarKnickKnackMyWack
Super Smash Bros. 4 has too much content. So much so I almost don't want a sequel. I honestly hope that NX gets a "Super Smash Bros. For NX" port rather than a new installment. It could be a GOTY edition and come with all of the DLC.
Batthink avatarBatthink
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -