Time continues to tick on mercilessly and brings with it wave after wave of video game anniversaries designed (we're certain) to make us feel older than our years. Majora's Mask launched in North America two decades ago this very day — how can that be?
Another game celebrating a significant birthday today is Rock Band 3. The impressive culmination of Harmonix's rhythm-based band simulator learnings to that point launched exactly a decade ago today, just on the tail end of the plastic instrument craze. The game added a MIDI keyboard to the classic line up of guitar, bass, drums and microphone, and offered arguably the closest feeling to performing in a real band for people who would otherwise never experience that thrill.
The game itself performed below expectations on release — even fans of the genre were getting fed up of mountains of plastic peripherals building up, not only from the Rock Band series, but also Activision's Guitar Hero, which was originally developed by Harmonix. However, a steady stream of RB3 DLC gave the game a long tail and it still stands as one of the finest instrument-based rhythm games ever made. We have fantastic memories involving whipping it good to Devo, Lasso-ing with Phoenix and dying on our ass trying to keep up with Crazy Train.
Harmonix is gearing up to release its next entry in the rhythm game genre, the mix-based DJ sim Fuser. We took a PC demo for spin back in the summer and we're intrigued to see how it holds up on Switch when it hits the decks in just a couple of week's time.
While we wait for that, though, let's poor one out for a titan of rock.
Still got your Ion Drums and a functioning brain module knocking about somewhere? Got your DLC-filled Wii sitting in your TV cabinet just in case you want to blast through a set? Feel free to share your rockin' memories below.
I have guitar and drums for Xbox 360. Had RB3, Beatles, Metallica and green day versions. 3 of my favourite bands.
too bad they stopped making these games.
Anything to sell a worthless hunk of plastic for $80. No fad has been beaten harder than a dead horse by video game executives than music games. They thought they had found a way to exceed the yearly Madden model, and instead they just killed everyone's interest.
@Maulbert Rock Band did it right with only a few titles. Activision killed it with their yearly Guitar Hero releases.
Got me excited we were getting a new one for the switch!!
So many happy memories of playing all of these games back in the day. Kind of wish we could get another on Switch, keep it simple and limit it to guitars and a mix of classic hits and I'd be happy.
@infernogott There was a Rock Band game released every year from 2007-2010, and they released 3 each in 2009 and 2010. They were absolutely complicit.
@Maulbert These games were a lot of fun, but yeah. Having the two greediest publishers simultaneously milk the genre guarenteed it would burn out fast.
These games were so good!!!! If a new game came out every two years or so, the mainstream Rock Rhythm game genre could have continued. But, EA and Activision were the ones in charge of the two biggest franchises Rock Band and Guitar Hero... they milked interest in the genre dry as they kept releasing inferior versions of the mainline games targeting specific bands (the Beatles game was very good though) and fads like DJ Hero and Lego Rock Band... that makes me sad because I have so many good memories of playing Rock Band 2 and wished we could get a proper sequel to Rock Band 3 as Rock Band 4 was kinda MEEEEHHHHH.
@Wexter EA had NOTHING to do with Rock Band, it was MTV Games that published it. EA only helped distribute it.
For Rock Band 4 Harmonix self published it, after they split from MTV, and it was distributed by first Mad Catz, then PDP.
@Casperfour yeah I feel like they make odd choices to showcase. Like this wasn’t the last Rock Band nor the best.
They did it a few weeks ago where some other weird sequel ish game had an anniversary and I just thought “...but who cares?”
@Creature “ Drumming on a real digi drum kit to eye of the tiger is one of the highlights of my gaming life.”
So sad that DJ Hero was killed off. For me DJ Hero was the best title released. Playing rock band with drums was great also but DJ Hero was always my jam.
I was trying to explain to my kids the other day about Rock Band and just how fun it was/is. I still have a tone of DLC songs on my 360 hard drive. I also still have Rock Band 3 and The Beatles: Rock Band. Been seriously considering finding some cheap peripherals and getting the band back together 😊
@LillianC14 Doesn't really change the fact that it was killed off due to oversaturation by the two major publishers of the two most popular IPs. in such a short period of time You try keeping up with the genre when a new game comes out with a new set of plastic guitars that generally broke rather easily and buy glorified expansion packs that cost the price for a full game sometimes up to three times within a year... >.> I know I went through a few Drumkits or even how some of the instruments did not work between the two most popular games.
The market was flushed and while that can work for FPS games with a rather established genre that come with new maps and fully fleshed out story campaigns. However, the Rock Rhythm genre got flooded and there is only so much you can evolve an arcade experience before it gets old hat to the common consumer (especially when so many of the 'new games' were just reskins of older games). That and some of the releases were extremely niche like Rock Band Greenday, or Guitar Hero: Metallica... the DLC albums were nice (again though it gets pricy quickly when you're buying close to 10 songs within a week for 180-240ms points a pop), but when you are dealing with mountains of releases, spinoffs, main entries, and mountains of DLC for each release for a new genre it can get rather faddy and just oversaturated to the common consumer.
Though for fans of the games (like myself) I would love an actual follow-up to Rock Band 3 as Rock Band 4 was kinda a disappointment... It lacked features and a fleshed-out online mode and it did not really evolve the genre. And as an actual bassist without a full group of friends at my place to jam with, when I'm alone with the game I just look at my actual bass going... I can just play that instead due to how barren the game is.
I have Beatles Rock Band and Lego Rock Band on the PS3. Great games which gave me and some of my friends some fun evenings.
@infernogott But But Harmonix churned out so much DLC that it affected quality control.
Then there's a fact that they wanted an unbroken import feature so they only selected songs from certain record labels that makes it easy to implement that feature, thou it backfired on the in RB4 .
While nether GH or RB instruments are that partially good quality, just that the first generation RBs controllers were totally rubbish.
when RB3 came out it had a major game breaking bug & they refused to do anything for Wii owners, yet Activisin on the other hand are willing to give replacement disc's for GH3's reletavely mild audio bug.
In a lot of was the Guitar Hero series has a lot less BS as compared to Rock Band.
As a huge fan of both Guitar Hero and Rock Band (I'm even a leader for a top-tier RB4 crew right now), it always bummed me out that people simply got tired of the games. Was the market oversaturated with too many of the games in the later years? Sure, but it never stopped people from buying their yearly Call of Duty and sports games. C'est la vie I guess.
On topic, RB3 was definitely one of the best games in the series. It took a while for its indie rock-focused setlist to grow on me, but man, they picked some awesome songs for the game. I never got terribly good at keys despite the fact I'm a musician in real life and somewhat know my way around a keyboard (on top of the fact I can play expert with every other instrument), but it was still a welcome addition.
I actually own RB3 on Wii and PS3 and the difference is extremely noticeable — the Wii version has longer loading times, crashes a lot, fairly buggy at times (especially visually), and with the Wii Shop Channel closed, you can't even download any more DLC, let alone even redownload songs you own. It was nice to see the game being released on a Nintendo console (unlike RB4), but the port was fairly lackluster.
It's still fun in a pinch if it's your only option to play the game. You could do a lot worse with the countless amount of crappy Wii rhythm game shovelware.
@Xenobound94 While I have no love for CoD or sports games, neither of them released multiple full priced games a year that felt like overglorified DLC while requiring investment into expensive peripherals that were otherwise useless.
Remember when Activision tried to make a skateboard peripheral for Tony Hawk? Remember how that worked out? The writing was on the wall for music games, and greedy executives refused to notice it, effectively killing the genre by driving it into the ground.
@Maulbert Respectfully, I have to disagree with you. If anything, CoD and (ESPECIALLY) sports games rarely add much to their yearly releases on top of their obnoxious amount of cosmetic micro-transactions. Just look at the recent iteration of FIFA on Switch; it's literally the same game from last year with just an updated roster. At least new rhythm games often added some new modes of some sort with the addition of new songs.
Activision without a doubt killed GH with how it released spin-off games left and right, but I still don't see the connection between the Tony Hawk game you mention and GH. In TH's case, it makes zero sense why they made it because the previous games in the series didn't need one, especially with how infamous the skateboard was for how unresponsive it was. One thing you could never really say with GH instruments is at least they worked really well; many people prefer GH instruments over RB's, myself included.
If the peripherals were what turn you off from rhythm games, then the games simply aren't for you. If you enjoy the game enough, you didn't mind getting them because that was the whole point of getting the games. Now, were the peripherals a little overpriced? Perhaps, but they weren't/aren't exactly cheap to make. Look at Harmonix now — they haven't made any any new peripherals in years because they can't find a new manufacturer willing to make them because it's hard to make a profit from that. Look what happened to Madcatz.
@Xenobound94 However, the peripherals were not optional to play the game as intended. Microtransactions, while insideous, are hardly necessary for gameplay. Also, comparing the music games genre of 10 years ago to today's game industry is hardly fair. If RB and GH were around today, I guarantee they'd be just as guilty of microtransactions as CoD or sports games.
As for the Tony Hawk comparison, my point was how putting a peripheral into a game can sink it's sales. There are no doubt many who never bought into the music genre purely for the adoption costs. You're ignoring vital flaws in the music game genre and heavily overstating ones in CoD and sports games, purely because of your affection for them. I don't like any of them. I have no bias.
Got Guitar Hero 3 for PS3, but the red button on the guitar wore out ages ago. Ah yeah and my PS3 now over heats after an hour of doing anything.
Guitar Hero was one of my most played games on Wii. I loved my wooden Logitech Guitar. And one of the best party games ever.
So sad they stopped developing. Would be a day 1 buy for me if they ever plan to release a successor.
Loved Rock Band 3, had the guitar, pro guitar, keyboard and microphone and put in well over 150 hours into it on the Wii (mainly on guitar, which i wore out/broke and luckily found a brand new replacement for on eBay).
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