Rock Band Blitz Hands-on Preview -- Arcade Rocking in the Downloadable WorldBy Stephen Johnson - Posted Apr 03, 2012
Harmonix’s Rock Band franchise has been laying low since the release of Rock Band 3, with yearly releases of high-profile plastic-instrument orgies a relic of gaming days gone by. But Rock Band Blitz, an upcoming downloadable title, points to a bright, but scaled down future for the series.
Blitz is a downloadable music game along the lines of Amplitude or Frequency that aims to take the rhythms and melodies from your favorite music and transform them into gaming elements in a flat-out action arcade game. It’s part-beat matching, part pinball, and judging from my playtime, all fast-paced, arcadey fun, especially if you’re a music fan. If you hate music, maybe do something else.
Gone are the performance or simulation elements from past Rock Band games. Instead, Rock Band Blitz aims straight for the brightly lit guts of old schoolish arcade action. The game leverages the music library you’ve built up over the years purchasing DLC for Rock Band, Rock Band 2, and RB 3 through the Rock Band Network and lets you use them in a new way.
Rock Band Blitz’s s more than 20 songs are also immediately compatible and playable with a full band in Rock Band 3, so if you’re still looking for new RB 3 tracks, there’s more than 20 here with an awesome arcade game thrown in too. A bargain, I think you will agree.
Instead of songs, your tracks become playing fields. The game lays out all of a song’s instrument parts in paths, and you use your controller to “play” notes as they slide toward you. Like Frequency or Amplitude, you switch from track to track, playing drums, bass, keyboard, guitar and vocals, in any combination you’d like.
It’s a simple concept that takes minutes to pick up, but Blitz is addictive, and provides such a variety of multipliers, power-ups and ways to rack up points, arcade game fans will spend a lot of time getting better at it. While you’re mastering hitting the multiplayer rhythm gems, and building your multiplier, you also have the option of firing off bottle rockets to explode notes farther up the timeline, or you could choose to chase down a blast note to increase your score.
There will be over 15 power-ups in the game across three categories: Overdrive, Note and another category that has yet to be announced. The Power-ups saw included Bottle Rocket that blasts gems, Bandmate, in which a track is automatically played, Pinball that launches a silver ball out and Blast, a power-up that destroys notes. Imagine trying to return a bouncing pinball, shoot off rockets and switch from track to track while hitting super-notes and building a multiplier, all while engaged in arcade action that’s as fast as a flaming shark.
While Rock Band Blitz ditches the plastic instruments in favor of controller-only input, it holds onto something more important: Your music library. You can use almost any song from the Rock Band Store, previous Rock Band games and even the fan-made music from the Rock Band Network to play Blitz. If those over 3000 tracks aren’t enough for you, new Rock Band Network songs are released each week, and those will be playable in Rock Band Blitz.
For my playthrough, I buzzed through a little Quiet Riot (hard, fast,) some Rick Springfield (easy, laid back) and Flight of the Bumblebee from the Rock Band Network (ridiculous), so there’s as much variety as you could imagine with literally thousands of possible songs in just about any genre at your fingertips.
Rock Band Blitz is single-player only, no co-op or competitive gaming, so the whole “Band” part of Rock Band doesn’t really apply, except in the game’s extensive leader boards and competitions. Playing against your friends’ scores seems like it will be a game in itself, a meta-game where proving my superiority to of G4’s preview editor Jake Gaskill by besting his point totals will consume my every waking thought, for example.
Rock Band Blitz is planned for a summer release on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. We don’t have a price yet.