It has been ten years since the release of Rock Band on November 20, 2007. I remember stores being sold out of the game for months. During one lucky trip to Best Buy I found a copy of the game bundle with guitar, drums, a microphone, and the game disc, I also found one for my friend.
2007 was a great year for gaming. Not only did we have Rock Band, but Guitar Hero II released for the Xbox 360 earlier in the year. This was my first foray into the musical games genre.
In high school I played the saxophone, and dabbled on the piano. I always had a passing interest in the guitar but found it too complicated. Guitar Hero was the perfect series for me. I remember buying the game and playing until I was too tired to keep my eyes open, then I woke up early and continued to play.
I mastered every song on Medium and then gradually worked my way up to Expert mode. I was never a master Guitar Hero player, but I could usually at least complete every song on Expert. Some of my favorite songs were “Carry on my Wayward Son,” “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” and “Monkey Wrench.”
I became enthralled with the world of Rock Band. I would check every week for new songs to be released on Xbox Live and listen to them on YouTube to see if I would enjoy them. I spent hundreds of dollars on downloadable content for Rock Band. I would always invite a few friends over to check out the new songs and jam. Of course I always played lead guitar and sometimes sang. Sometimes at the same time.
We even entered a local Rock Band competition and came away with a $40 gift card to Walmart, meant to be split between the four of us.
Rock Band 3 was my favorite entry in the series by far. I loved playing on the keyboard. The regular keyboard mode was extremely easy and I often played through songs on Expert. The Pro Keys were much tougher and I am still stuck on the medium difficulty to this day. I wish they would implement a system similar to Rocksmith, where you could slow the song down and repeat sections until you perfected it.
I never played Rock Band 4, but I am always curious when I see it sitting on a store self. I played Guitar Hero Live in 2015, but never truly enjoyed the controller. I think I might have one of the faulty ones.
What does the future hold for Rock Band and the musical game genre? Hopefully something bright. I think their monetization method with downloadable songs released every week or two would still be successful today. I think a robust online mode would draw more people in, or maybe even an asynchronous multiplayer mode. Both of which Rock Band 4 has. They could implement some kind of daily challenge reward system with cosmetic rewards, no loot boxes though please.
I think the future of the musical game genre would be enhanced with a new controller. Maybe create a plastic guitar with a longer neck with seven or eight buttons instead of the standard five. Guitar Hero Live was interesting with two rows of four buttons, but the user interface was often confusing about which note to hit.
Speaking of, I also think a refresh for the user interface would go a long way towards getting people excited to play music games again. After playing multiple songs over and over again, the games got boring and bland. Music is all about creative freedom, something that other genres, such as open world games, are fully embracing. Allow the player some method of creating their own music pieces, or feel more connected to the music they are creating. Rather than focus on repeating the music notes that fall down the screen.
Maybe give players small rifts and then allow them to play along during the opening scenes of classic Nintendo games.
At the very least, music games have way overused the classic ’80’s rock music.
What do you think? Will you buy Rock Band 5? Should I go pick up Rock Band 4? Or is the musical game genre dead?