We all love the guitar, drum and microphone peripherals that came with Rock Band, but the slew of secondary instruments that the makers of the game have released have been a lot less satisfying. Okay, the Rock Band Key-Tar was pretty cool, but did we really need a Rock Band stand-up bass?
Below the cut is a list of the most epic failures in Rock Band extra instruments.
The Harp – Sure, it sounds fun. I mean, who wouldn’t want to play all the Joanna Newsom songs in her catalog?
But the harp peripheral that comes with Rock Band is complete bunk. First, there are 175 buttons. So many, in fact, that the colors on the fretboard are nothing but very small shades of each other. If you’re color blind, forget it. Also, the thing weighs, like, 100 pounds. Plus, you need to buy an extra monitor to watch your fretboard, which doesn’t make you feel much like you’re part of the band. And there’s nothing that quite kills the “rock” vibe like Boston’s “Foreplay/Long Time” immediately followed by “Bridges and Balloons.”
Triangle: The Rock Band triangle peripheral is just too hard. In order to play this low self-esteem child's attempt at being part of an orchestra, you need to stand in the ready position for the entire song and count, out loud, every beat in the song in ascending order until the very end. Then you get to hit the triangle once. And if you get it wrong or miss it, your entire band fails immediately--and trust me, if you're playing the triangle, you will miss it.
Don't even get me started on the boredom of the solo world tour mode.
Joint Peripheral: This peripheral fails because you don’t actually get to use it during the gameplay. It requires you to “activate” it between songs and all it does is make it harder to pick the song you want to play, man. Usually, it will select Black Sabbath’s Paranoid. If you have Sabbath’s Sweat Leaf you’ll get to “play” it right as the song begins to for a big bonus. Make sure you hit the right pitch on those coughs!
Merch Booth: Maybe it's exciting to sell rock and roll merchandise in real life, but in Rock Band, it's a bit of a drag. Watching the fans stream out after your friends rocked a killer show, and yelling "Tour Shirts? CD? Posters?" and hoping for a sale just doesn't make for compelling gameplay.
Ditto for the technician kit. Saying "check, CHECK" into the mic before the set and then giving a thumbs up or down to the soundman until the levels are exactly right may be realistic, but it isn't my idea of fun. Neither is the tuning mini game or the mid-song knob-twiddling breaks.
Why won't anyone let me pick up a fake guitar? I've been practicing a lot and I think I'm ready.
Wooden Fish: Being the staunch traditionalist that I am, I recently purchased the Rock Band Wooden Fish peripheral. To be honest, this was the instrument I had been waiting for. I couldn't wait to add my percussive tock to such classics as Yuji Takahashi's "While Crossing the Bridge" or perhaps some really badass Buddhist chants. I was really depressed to discover that the game really has no library to work with this king of all instruments. Without the sweet sweet setlist I require for my wooden fish peripheral enjoyment, it seems obvious that EA and Harmonix were only trying to squeeze some quick cash out of the large wooden fish enthusiast audience, with no desire or vision for our Rock Band Wooden Fish playing experience.
Spoons: Last March when it was announced that the Spoon peripheral for Rock Band would be hitting store shelves by year’s end, I was amped. Finally, I'd be able to relive some of the memories of playing spoons in my high school grunge band.
Then, when they were finally released, they had wires, long, unwieldy ones! What the hell? Of course, you could pay $150 for the wireless ones, but who wants to spend that kind of money? That’s not to mention the high failure rate. Apparently, slamming the spoons against each other and your outer thigh really doesn't jibe well with the sterling silver (gold if you got the overly expensive, wireless ones) peripherals. Way to show a lack of foresight. Still, being able to play Soundgarden’s “Rusty Cage” and “Blow Up the Outside World” made it all worthwhile.
Rain Stick: Every time my girlfriend wants to play Rock Band, she brings over her rain stick and it¹s a real drag on the proceedings. While adding nothing to the song but white noise, this peripheral still takes up one third of the screen and even on expert poses no kind of challenge, even for her. It's most annoying on songs that don't have rain stick in the original master recording. Suffragette City, Paranoid, and Run to the Hills were not meant to have a friggin' rain stick. Furthermore, this failed RB instrument is tearing us apart. In fact, I'm breaking up with my girlfriend tonight and inviting all my friends over to play Rock Band for real. Mike, you're not allowed to bring that stupid harp so don't even ask.