Konami’s Music Games Come Full Circle With Band-Centric ‘Rock Revolution’

This fall, there will be three options for gamers interested in joining a virtual band: “Rock Band,” “Guitar Hero IV” and Konami’s newly announced “Rock Revolution.”

Konami revealed “Rock Revolution” last night at a media event in San Francisco. It was their first announcement of the night, and it was met with surprised (and confused) looks from the audience.

“Rock Band” is already out, “Guitar Hero” is the established name — is there room for another set of peripherals? I decided to step up to the game’s drums — which features six drum buttons — and find out if I’ll be cluttering up my living room even more this fall…

So far, I’m not sure.

On a dare from Total PlayStation’s Sam Bishop, I decided to drum along to Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8r Boi.” No, I wasn’t aware that song had drums, either. “Rock Revolution” actually features a full-fledged versus mode for the drums, but in the version I played, there wasn’t much “battling” going on. We just played together.

The drum kit itself features six face buttons and a kick pedal. Do more buttons equal more fun? It’s a little too early to tell. I only played one song — not nearly enough time to memorize the button layout. Consequently, I kept smacking the drum sticks against the drum kit in every place but the buttons. To my right, Bishop decided to freestyle a little bit, but all he succeeded in doing was making a lot of noise as he smashed the plastic.

“Rock Revolution” does do a couple of cool new things that “Rock Band” doesn’t. One, there’s no penalty for freestyling extra hits on the drums. I’m not a drummer, but even I feel a little constrained by “Rock Band” penalizing me for improvising during a song.

Two, Konami’s take lets you turn off the kick pedal. My girlfriend stopped trying to play “Rock Band'”s drums because the kick pedal was too much for her. “Rock Revolution” features five difficulty levels and doesn’t introduce the kick pedal until hopping into medium.

There’s also a guitar, but I didn’t have a chance to try it out. It doesn’t look much different from the stock guitar included in “Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock,” and there’s nothing differentiating it from the guitar in “Rock Band” or “Guitar Hero,” except that it’s a different color (all black). There are five buttons, but they’ve been assigned brand-new colors.

The interface is about what you’d expect from a Konami Bemani game, except the traditional animated backgrounds have been replaced with a full-fledged rock show. It’s a little odd at first, actually; I’ve become so accustomed to the slanted nature of both “Rock Band” and “Guitar Hero” that following the notes in Rock Revolution was distracting.

Konami said “Rock Revolution” will ship with at least 40 songs on the disc, with the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions getting downloadable content after launch.

There was no discussion of a release date or price at the event, but I’m told that information should be coming soon (read: E3). Those details are crucial to “Rock Revolution”’s success this fall, especially given that “Rock Revolution” is the only band-centric music game that won’t feature vocals as a gameplay element.

Readers, are you ready for more peripherals? Is a drum set with six buttons compelling to you?

Have a hot tip? Is there a topic that Multiplayer should be covering and isn’t? Maybe you know more about what’s coming in “Rock Revolution.” Drop me an e-mail.