PSP Game Reviews: Rock Band Unplugged Review

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Rock Band Unplugged Review

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Graphics:

 

8.0

Gameplay:

 

7.0

Sound:

 

8.0

Control:

 

7.5

Replay Value:

 

6.5

Overall Rating:       7.5

 

 

Online Gameplay:

Not Rated

Publisher:

MTV Games/EA

Developer:

Backbone/Harmonix

Number Of Players:

1

Genre:

Music

I never did understand why games like Rock Band or Guitar Hero never saw an iteration on the PSP. Granted, I had always envisioned them in a different form than the game in question. I thought perhaps a little peripheral of some sort could attach to the PSP and act as a fret board, but instead Harmonix gave us a game that is more akin to a portable version of their PS2 games Frequency and Amplitude.

Rock Band: Unplugged utilizes nothing but the PSP's buttons, bringing it back to the days when music games could be played with controllers if you didn't have the necessary peripheral, like a dance mat, on hand. But, unlike games such as Dance Dance Revolution and Frequency/Amplitude, the controls are the biggest struggle to overcome in Unplugged. Where as DDR used an easy directional button layout, and Frequency/Amplitude only used three buttons, Rock Band Unplugged has four buttons to use.

The default button layout utilizes the Left, Up, Triangle, and Circle. The problem with this configuration is you may often find yourself hitting the Square button to hit the first note and sometimes hitting other buttons too, thinking they have a function. The key to making this game work is focus and trying to forget that the other buttons exist, which I kept struggling with. Once you're able to focus and avoid hitting the wrong buttons, the game becomes much more enjoyable. Now, you can customize the controls to your liking, but at the end of the day, no matter how much I tweaked, I found the default the controls to be the most accessible.

At the heart of it all, Unplugged is essentially a portable version of Rock Band 2, they even share a playlist that is largely similar. You have the World Tour mode which will take your user-created band and players on a tour through 24 venues, across 24 cities. You also have the Quickplay mode, and if you just want to play all of the songs, you can enter the options menu and enable a pre-made code that unlocks all of the songs for you, but disables saving.

What seperates Unplugged from the big-brother console versions is its ability to allow you to control all of the instruments, including vocals, at any time you want - a feature originally present in Frequency and Amplitude. So while you're tappling along to the guitar, you can hit the shoulder buttons and scroll to the drums, vocals, or bass. The best way to utilize this mechanic is to perform well and complete the segments each instrument has. Once you complete a segment, you can move on to the next instrument, all the while the one you just left will be playing on its own temporarily. Some of this process is automated, so don't worry about constantly having to keep track of four highways. You will have to get the hang of switching, catching the first few notes, and immediately adjusting to the different patterns. But if you don't wish to play all instruments, then you can select the Warm Up mode that allows you to stay on one track, allowing you to switch only if you choose to. Oh, and as far as solos, when a solo appears, the game will automatically switch you to where you need to be so that you don't miss anything.

In total, there are 41 tracks, and if you've played Rock Band 1 and Rock Band 2, then you've played practically every one of these songs already. Obviously, for the the portable game, the note charts are a little bit easier, so veterans may actually breeze through these songs on the Expert difficulty with ease. On the other hand, you do have Downloadable Content, as the game is PlayStation Network compatible, which will allow you to access the PSP's Unplugged store. Unfortunately, if you've purchased a song for the console versions, you'll have to repurchase it for the PSP game.

But the biggest drawback here comes in a pair. First, there is no multiplayer, none whatsoever. For a franchise that's entire point was multiplayer gameplay, not even an ad-hoc mode is downright inexcusable. Furthermore, the game's lack of innovation is also rather annoying. I mean, really, not even a little USB microphone attachement to sing the vocals with? Sure, it's not like many people would use it outside...well...there are a lot of weirdos in these New York City subways, but I digress. Anyways, again, perhaps not many people would use it outdoors, but certainly those playing in-doors, on a trip, in a hotel, etc. may very well do so. Another nice innovation would've been a little guitar attachment to the PSP's action buttons. This attachment could be just a few inches in length and have four buttons, similar to that of a guitar controller, and when pressed down it would press on its respective PSP button - nothing but a simple spring-based attachment. It would also allow you to hold your PSP like a mini guitar controller, and you could use the D-pad to strum with. That would genuinely make it a great portable experience.

The soundtrack is nice and solid, as MTV/Harmonix have chosen to use the harder Rock Band tracks for Unplugged, as opposed to the softer ones, providing better energy and excitement for the game - a must for an on-the-go game. If you're interested in the game, it'll ultimately be the soundtrack to make your final decision. My personal favorites here are: Queens of the Stone Age, Motorhead, Pearl Jam, Weezer, System of a Down, The Off Spring, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Audioslave, Dead Kennedys, The Police, Boston, The Killers, Judas Priest, Lacuna Coil, Blink 182, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Billy Idol, and Tenacious D.

If you don't mind playing a game with only your fingers, I suppose you could give Rock Band Unplugged a chance. But for a game with minimal downloadable content, no multiplayer, a playlist and World Tour experience that is largely identical to the console games, and little to no innovation...$40 is not quite the ticket I'd be willing to pay. The soundtrack may be great for the newer folk, but if you're a Rock Band veteran, you've played these songs to death.

6/23/2009 Arnold Katayev

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Comments (8 posts)

kevinater321
Tuesday, June 23, 2009 @ 1:48:26 PM
Reply

cool...i might get it

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kevinater321
Tuesday, June 23, 2009 @ 1:49:03 PM
Reply

oh ya i think that they didn't add a new peace if garbage is because it needs to be downloadable for the psp go

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, June 23, 2009 @ 2:02:24 PM
Reply

All Rock Bands should be unplugged, or at least turned off.

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killzone100
Tuesday, June 23, 2009 @ 2:47:31 PM

True.

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fluffer nutter
Tuesday, June 23, 2009 @ 2:17:18 PM
Reply

I'm not a fan of the GH or RB franchises but I downloaded this demo and actually liked it. I found the controls very easy to use and didn't have any adjustment time. It just worked "right out of the box" for me. I haven't bought the game though because I don't want to end up being suckered into paying for songs when I can get the CD audio for much, much cheaper. I understand these songs are for a game but the original works by the artists are much cheaper so it's hard for me to justify to myself why I would pay extra for them. I'll stop as I'm going off topic but I may end up purchasing this game later on when I see it on sale. There are many more PSP games on my list that I am excited to get towards the end of the year.

Last edited by fluffer nutter on 6/23/2009 2:17:41 PM

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Minishmaru
Tuesday, June 23, 2009 @ 3:04:37 PM
Reply

The game is decent, if you liked Lumines, Every Extend Extra, Beats, etc, you probably will like this game...probably.

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jmo_INDY_Repub
Tuesday, June 23, 2009 @ 4:50:32 PM
Reply

for those out there who dont want to pay $40 and change for a limited amount of songs, buy Beats on the PSStore, download songs onto your mem. stick and it will import them into the game and you can do what RB unplugged does. P.S. your songs and the game have to be on the same mem. stick. i believe its only $5.

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YesterdysRising
Wednesday, June 24, 2009 @ 12:06:47 AM
Reply

I've never owned a PSP before and with Amazon's current trade in deal, I decided to give in and get myself one. I'm also excited to see how it will work together with my PS3 but anyways, I got the Rock Band Bundle. I figured, with the 4GB Pro Duo, Rock Band and School of Rock, I couldn't really go wrong for the extra $30. Now, I've always played the Guitar Hero games and I have World Tour and all that but I've only played Rock Band 2 for a little bit when I rented it one time so I guess I'm not really worn out or used to the series yet, but I've RBU quite a bit today and I do have to say that I like it. Ya, it's not gonna give you what the regular console version will give you but it's still fun. I do have to say, I would not pay $40 for it, but I would definitely dish out $20. I do think the bundle is a steal for anyone who does not have a PSP yet and the 4GB Pro Duo makes it way better than the Ratchet and Clank bundle.

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