Harmonix: 'Streamlined' Wii 'Rock Band' Not An Afterthought

Yesterday afternoon, I played "Rock Band" for the Wii in a demo room used by MTV Games (it's not as easy for us as you'd think -- I had to walk five blocks to another building).

Harmonix Community Manager Sean Baptiste was on hand to sing lead vocals for shy journalists. After we rocked out to some tunes (I played guitar on OK Go's "Here It Goes Again" and Boston's "Foreplay/Long Time"), I gave Baptiste the third degree (no, we don't get any details in advance) with a few burning questions I had about the Wii version...

First, I asked why the Wii version is coming out much later than the Xbox 360, PS3 and PS2 versions -- was it was an afterthought or did it just need more dev time? "It was human bandwidth," Baptiste said matter-of-factly. With all the tracks, character customization and things needed to initially get the game out the door, Harmonix "didn't want it to be a jumble." He also said that there were different "design choices" that needed to be made for the Wii version.

For instance, Baptiste said the game was "streamlined" in that it doesn't include character creation so that Wii users can jump right into rockin' out with pre-made avatars. "The focus of the Wii console is different than the [Xbox 360 and the PS3]," he said. "We wanted the more casual player to get into the game without having to navigate all these menus."

The only other major differences, besides no downloadable content (tracks will be bundled onto a disc) and five extra songs on the game disc, is the fact that the drum kit will be white. When I asked how gamers could keep the white plastic from getting grimy, Baptiste said, "We hope it gets dirty! It's proof that your friends actually know how to rock."

All kidding aside, he thought the Wii drum kit was made of the same material as the other consoles' kits, and could be easily cleaned. I tried stepping on one of the kit's feet (without Baptiste looking), but was unable to leave a mark, so we'll have to see how dirty the kit gets when it's being played on the red carpet at the MTV Movie Awards this Sunday (look out for Baptiste singing in a "Rock Band" band along with other Harmonix exployees).

"Rock Band" on Wii is slated for release on June 22, and the first volume of the track pack hits stores July 15.