Games that Rock
With an increasing number of musical games out there gamers can get their groove on in a variety of ways, whether at home or on the go. So which one is right for you?
Rock Band 2
Cringing at the thought of yet another Blockbuster night, but too broke to hit your favorite girl bar? Rock Band 2 is the perfect cure for the (not so) quiet night in.
Players have a choice of instruments, including a mic, guitar, bass (sold separately) and drums on which to strum and bang their way through 24 globe-spanning cities. They also have the option of going on a solo tour or joining up with friends to create a band (either in person or via Xbox Live/PlayStation Network) and embark on a quest to earn fans and cash; and—if they’re really good—become a virtual legend. Which shouldn’t be too difficult with a playlist that includes the likes of Joan Jett, Blondie and Bikini Kill, and additional downloadable songs from kick-ass ladies including Sleater-Kinney and Siouxsie and the Banshees. It’s like a rock ’n’ roll fantasy—hot groupies not included. ($60 and up, www.gamestop.com) [Rachel Shatto]
Guitar Hero World Tour
Real guitarists might be disappointed with the Guitar Hero series, but that’s not stopping the popular cross-platform games from eating into hours of after-school (and after-work) time. And World Tour is nothing if not a great addition to the series, with a full band kit available (that includes a guitar, mic and drum set, sold separately) for the whole family to rock out to “Barracuda” with. It’s not as easy as it looks, and we in the office take pride in getting up to the blue button. The game includes an optional lefty flip orientation, which gets it extra brownie points in my book. ($60 and up, www.gamestop.com) [Katie Peoples]
You’ve always dreamed of showing your special lady exactly how you feel by serenading her with that perfect, obscure indie bootleg b-side, but no matter how hard you look, you just can’t find it on a karaoke song list. Well then, Lips is the game for you.
Otherwise similar to other vocal-based games (à la SingStar or Karaoke Revolution), Lips has one very exciting function that sets it apart from its predecessors: It’s the first to allow players to sing (and be scored on) any song on their MP3 player. It also boasts a healthy song list, plenty of downloadable content and even a few spiffy new minigames, including “Time Bomb” and the disappointingly heteronormative “Kiss.” The game comes bundled with two swanky, motion-sensitive wireless mics—complete with multicolor flashing lights—so all you have to do is pop it in, start singing and watch your girl swoon! ($50, www.gamestop.com) [Rachel Shatto]
Singstar ABBA adds to the success of Singstar’s karaoke-at-home franchise with a collection of songs from the Swedish disco-pop group. I have to confess, I grew up listening to ABBA so this game in particular was a real treat—and a great follow up to Mama Mia (both film and Broadway show). So singing (albeit, badly) along to this was especially fun. A great game for when the whole gang is over. ($40, gamestop.com) [Katie Peoples]
Rhythm Heaven ditches the traditional D-pad and A/B buttons in favor of the Nintendo DS stylus. Hold the system on its side and try to keep up with the beat. The minigames are addictive, simple, fun and short—making Rhythm Heaven a perfect travel game for a casual player. The minigames are cute (Glee Club is particularly fun) and easy to pick up, though they were challenging enough to make me want to play the game over and over. ($30, gamestop.com) [Katie Peoples]
Nintendo’s awesome Wii Music lets you play music the way I play music: with other people, on a variety of sometimes strange instruments and without any real skill. Sure, turning the remote and nunchuks into a sitar or drumming out like you’re in Congo Square takes some practice but you never feel bad while trying to master any of Wii Music’s 60-plus instruments (from the popular guitar to the more obscure banjo). No buttons, no sheet music, no competition. Love it, love everything about it. ($50, www.gamestop.com) [Diane Anderson-Minshall]