Believe it or not, I’m not a huge Beatles fan.
There, I said it.
Trust me, just typing that made me cringe. I’m one of the five people in the world who aren’t head over heels in love with the Beatles. I can fully appreciate the social and pop culture relevance of the fab four, and can even name a few of their iconic songs off the top of my head, but beyond that – I’m really just a casual fan, if that. So when I heard the news about the Beatles integration with Rock Band, I was skeptical. I’ll be the first to admit to having an unhealthy addiction to Rock Band, and I’m typically the drummer when I play with my friends. As far as songs go, I’m not picky. I’ll play anything so long as it’s hard, fast and loud. While I could see why the hardcore fans were excited, I just couldn’t see myself rocking out to “Hey Jude” or “Strawberry Fields.”
Luckily for me, the Nintendo Wii – which has long since solidified its position in popular culture as the video game console for the casual gamer – caters to the casual fan with The Beatles: Rock Band. Whether you’re a faithful follower or can only hum along to “Yellow Submarine,” the non exclusive game makes it easy for fans of all extremes to “come together, right now,“ over the Wii.
The opening sequence sets the tone with a splashy, colorful history of the Beatles’ musical journey. It’s a fitting introduction to the game, which infuses the music with new life, making it relatable for a whole new generation. That same vibrancy continues throughout the entire game, with a bucket full of technicolor patterns painting the backdrop for each number. Coming fresh off the heels of Rock Band 2, I was impressed by the continuity between songs in a set list, as well as the three part vocal harmony feature. Gone are the days of fighting over the microphone – now almost up to three players can sing along, opening up the possibility of performing with six members in the band.
While seasoned fans may be disappointed to find some of the more well known Beatles songs missing from the initial track list, there are rumored to be three full albums worth of digital licensed content that will be available to download in the coming months. While The Beatles: Rock Band lacks the character customization option familiar to Rock Band fans, it’s hardly missed. The digital renderings of the Beatles in their prime are fascinating – and almost creepily accurate – enough, ending each song with their signature simultaneous bow.
Harmonix has raised the bar with this newest member of the Rock Band family, catering to both the seasoned and the sometimes Beatles fan, and integrating new techniques into the Rock Band experience that fuels the growing anticipation of Rock Band 3. The Beatles: Rock Band marks the beginning of a new chapter in the musical game genre, a chapter that I am eager to read from start to finish.