Rock Revolution’s publisher Konami invented the modern rhythm action game. This is unquestionable. Even if you can somehow forget about Dance Dance Revolution, one look at Guitar Freaks and DrumMania/Percussion Freaks, both of which blasted into Japanese arcades clear back in 1999, is proof enough for even the most dim-witted denial artist. Unfortunately, that was a long time ago. Rock Revolution isn’t merely not very good; it’s so bad it might actually make you angry. It’s actually strange that something so intent on copying the latest Rock Band and Guitar Hero formula - enabling players to “play” drums, guitar and bass like real rock stars - could be so much worse.
Above: The GuitarFreaks and DrumMania series have been kicking in Japan for almost a decade. Remind you of anything?
Rock Revolution’s biggest sin is its proprietary drum controller. Apparently, it’s not enough that cash and storage space-starved gamers already have to contend with (or worse: choose between) Rock Band and Guitar Hero World Tour drum kits. No, now you really need a third option. Although, to be fair, this strange mess of shapes and colors seems more like an art-deco sculpture than it does even a pretend drum kit. The pads are too small, too cramped, oddly arranged, and they rest inside big, hard plastic collars that you’ll often clang instead of or along with the actual pad. It’s awful. Rock Revoution works with the guitars from other games – why on Earth doesn’t it support those games’ vastly superior drum kits?
Above: The offending device
Unfortunately, the drum controller is also only the first of a long list of problems. The songs are all covers instead of original recordings. There is no support for singers (this, from the publisher that has released at least eight Karaoke Revolution games in the US in the last five years). There are no customizable avatars. Online play is supported, but there can only be three people in each band instead of four. There are only around 40 songs, and though we like the setlist, there is no capability to download any more. There is a music editor with a few good ideas, but it’s not remotely as capable as the one in Guitar Hero World Tour.
Even the note maps are questionable. For example, in ‘80s hair-metal anthem “Youth Gone Wild,” a recurring snare drum fill is dumbed down by extra notes converting it into a simple drum roll. It’s a small difference, but things like this could drive musical purists insane.
To summarize: Rock Revolution is inferior to its competition in every single possible way. If you absolutely have to try it, we urge you to think of it as a track pack of guitar-only songs for Rock Band or Guitar Hero and buy just the game (instead of the drums-included bundle). But considering the songs are all cover versions and you have to use the guitar controllers from Rock Band or Guitar Hero anyhow, your money is still better spent downloading new songs for one of those games instead. Konami may have invented this genre, but there’s no room onstage for lame acts like this today.
Nov 6, 2008