For the life of me, I’ll never understand why Harmonix’s Frequency and Amplitude weren’t commercial hits. The titles featured a solid and fun beat-matching mechanic, and were both well-received by critics. Maybe it was mix of poor marketing, an unrecognizable IP, and the fact that one of the first songs you played in Amplitude was a remix of a track by P.O.D., a Christian alternative metal band.
With Rock Band Unplugged, Harmonix has most of that stuff in the bag – killer marketing backed by a highly-successful IP, and 100% less P.O.D.. At first glance, Unplugged looks like its console older siblings, sharing everything from menu to character assets, along with the signature note highways. But what it’s lacking is physical instrument peripherals, fortunately stripped away for the portable experience, leaving you with what’s basically a hard rock version of good ol’ Amplitude.
But is it any fun?
Rock Band Unplugged (PlayStation Portable)
Although the finger/brain communication needed to be successful with Unplugged takes a bit to warm up to, the basics work well on the PlayStation Portable. Instead of focusing on one instrument as with the console games, Unplugged has you accountable for four -- bass, drums, vocals, and guitar. By pressing a combination of the d-pad and face buttons that map to the gems on the note highway, you’re required to complete note phrases for each instrument. Once complete, that particular highway disappears, the instrument will “auto-play,” and you’ll use the left and right triggers to navigate to another track.
Even with downloadable content, it’s hard to compete with the staying power of the console versions, mainly because it removes a group from the equation. But as a casual pick-up and play, on-the-go music experience, Rock Band Unplugged certainly delivers a fun experience, certainly worthy of a look.
Score: 8.0 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)
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