By Katie Byrne
I think they made “The Beatles: Rock Band” specifically for me, because the only video game I’m any good at is “Rock Band,” and the Beatles are the band that made me a music fan. So when we had the chance to play the game today, I was first in line.
The “Rock Band” creators, MTV-owned Harmonix, hosted a party for MTV employees in Santa Monica, California, to show off the new game. The game’s opening sequence makes for an epic introduction to the game, with sweeping animation that highlights the band’s floppy early years all the way to their rainbow-colored psychedelic era.
But what you really care about is playing the game. Well, a Harmonix quintet (yes, five players … we’ll call the fifth member “Pete Best”) showed off the game, playing instruments custom-made for the game, including John Lennon’s Rickenbacker 325 guitar, Paul McCartney’s Höfner bass, George Harrison’s Gretsch Duo Jet guitar and Ringo Starr’s drums with Ludwig kick-drum head. Five people were used because it’s the first “Rock Band” game to include three-part harmonies, and you can actually play with up to a Fab Sextet.
They performed “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Taxman” and “Back in the U.S.S.R.” for the crowdmembers, many of whom seemed just as excited as the screaming ’60s-era fans in the graphics. They made the three-part harmonies sound easy — but we were about to learn that isn’t always the case.
The first brave group of MTV employees tackled “Here Comes the Sun.” The Harmonix crew rightly set the game on “no fail” mode, and while the three vocal parts moved across the screen, the group basically just sang the melody three strong. My band was up next (an all-girl group!), and we took on “Get Back.” I played it safe with the bass in “easy” mode. I probably could have gone for at least “medium,” but there were too many people watching! And I still managed to mess up even though I only had approximately one note every five minutes.
The instruments looked really cool, but aside from the aesthetics, I’m not sure they felt much different than the regular “Rock Band” set. But with “The Beatles: Rock Band,” it’s all about the music and the visuals. I don’t think “Rock Band” fans (or Beatles fans, for that matter) were looking for the game to be entirely revamped for this version.
The game won’t be out until September 9 (9.9.09 … is there a “number nine” pattern?), but you can check out some footage and photos from the demo right here!