Konami NYC Media Day: On tour with Rock Revolution for the Nintendo DS

Rock Revolution for the Nintendo DS is a curious little thing. Unlike the “me too” peripheral peripheral-based game of Rock Revolution on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, the DS version is mostly touch-screen-based.

On top of that, while the console versions leave singers in the dust, Rock Revolution on the Nintendo DS will have you singing. Yes, out loud. Possibly in public. More on that and the potential for embarrassment a bit later. 

Hit the jump to see how you’ll jam on the guitar and bass, how you’ll pound the touch-screen skins, and how you’ll potentially be looked at as crazy in public.

Playing guitar and bass on the DS in Rock Revolution, you’ll use a similar mechanics, with slight differences. When playing guitar, you simply “strum” up and down with the stylus, matching the arrows as they dive down from the top corners of the screen. With the bass, you’ll also be strumming up or down, but on different strings; arrows will scroll from the left of the screen in this case. 

Whether playing bass or guitar, I found myself having an incredibly easy time hitting my notes. In fact, the first time I played the game (on the hardest difficulty), I did so without any sound and was still able to hit most of the notes. Both of these instruments come across as relatively simplistic on the DS, and aren’t necessarily all that fun since you’re strumming on only a few points on the screen (as opposed to something like Elite Beat Agents which has you poking all over the place.)

Drums, on the other hand, are a different story. Like the peripheral, you’re required to hit handful of targets — seven to be exact. As you can from the screenshot, the targets are all over the screen, and are indicated by a scrolling note bar that sits on top of the screen. Compared to the bass and guitar — which required little effort or thought — the drums were a bit more fun, and on more difficult levels, the tapping actually made quite a bit of sense along with the beat.

Now to the vocals — the game uses the DS microphone and requires you to sing. Not only that, but it recommends that you do so in a quiet area. Considering I was at a loud event with other people in the room, I didn’t get a chance to try this mode out. But like Karaoke Revolution, the game will actually judge you based on your pitch, a first (I believe) for a Nintendo DS game. I can’t imagine most people will actually do this; the Nintendo DS is generally reserved for car or bus rides, and even in cities where weirdness is expected, singing into a handheld system in public is likely frowned upon.

The game will feature some 20 songs, all cover tracks, and unlike the console versions, they’re pretty poor. I played a few songs including “All The Small Things” and “Sk8er Boi,” both of which sounded like they were MIDI tracks. In some cases, it actually sounds like the bass line or drums were slightly off, not good for a game based around the rhythm of musical tracks.

You can see the visual style of the game in these screens and judge for yourself. It falls somewhere between Jamie Hewlett’s art for the Gorillaz and Internet message board MS Paint hack jobs. I suppose it’s meant to be edgy or hip for a younger crowd, but it’s hard to watch, and is extremely distracting while playing.

Rock Revolution DS features a ton of different modes, including a single-player career mode, and cooperative and battle modes for up to four players. The game will be in stores this Fall.

Nick Chester