It’s no surprise that the music video game genre has been on the decline for the past few years. Since Guitar Hero’s demise in 2010, the genre has been looking to regain supremacy as the go-to social experience for friends and social gamers. Rock Band tried to bring the battle of the bands back into the living room, but while it was a successful competitor with Guitar Hero at the time, it has also fallen of the wagon, with the latest release also taking place in 2010.
Since then, the genre has mostly been defunct, with the exception of Rocksmith , which attempts to curtail the genre as a social gaming phenomena and turn it into an educational platform. However, reviewers have spoken, and the Ubisoft title has been deemed a failure in that department.
Enter, Bandfuse: Rock Legends, the upcoming title that attempts to reclaim the genre as a way to learn guitar while having fun doing it, combining the best aspects of Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and Rocksmith into one comprehensive title.
We sat down with the development team of Bandfuse: Rock Legends and played the game, checking out many of the innovative customization features throughout. Here’s what you need to know about the game.
1. You Play With A Real Guitar
Like Rocksmith, Bandfuse: Rock Legends allows players to hook up an actual guitar to their Xbox 360 or PS3 to play along with some of the top hits in rock n’ roll in real time. However, where Bandfuse differs from its competitor is the lack of lag in the player experience, allowing players to rock out without any technical difficulties. Additionally, the game has you tune your guitar before playing any song, and has gives five distinct difficulty levels, allowing you to learn a song at your own pace, with the ultimate goal of transferring those guitar skills out of game.
2. The Goal Is To Learn How To Play
In development for the last three years, Bandfuse: Rock Legends has one particular goal in mind. Keep the player experience as authentic as possible. To that end, Bandfuse is all about building up your shredding skills to get out of game, and hopefully get up on a real stage one day. Utilizing a unique interface that uses an animated tablature to show beginners where to place their fingers and how to time strumming strings, Bandfuse also allows players to practice advanced techniques and challenging solos. Unprecedented levels of customization allow players to loop parts of songs they’d like to practice, and adjust settings within the song to their liking.
Even if you play on Easy, like we did, playing Sublime songs on two strings, the game is geared toward aspiring and performing guitarists of all levels, and can be played at a beginner, intermediate or advanced level.
3. Slash Is Your Guide To Rock
There may possibility be no guitarist more iconic than former Guns N’ Roses lead guitarist Slash. Giving his official backing to the game, Slash appears in a number of instructional videos, giving players everything from touring advice, to guitar techniques. Think of Slash like your virtual manual, any questions you could possibly have are answered by him in a large selection of video diaries.
Slash isn’t the only guitarest featured though, and other rock legends also have their own sets of instructional videos. These musicans include Zakk Wylde, former lead guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne and the founder of Black Label Society, (as well as the short lived Country Metal band Pride and Glory, which is awesome), famed funk bassist Bootsy Collins, and Lynch Mob founder and former Dokken guitarist George Lynch.
Other Bandfuse instructors have yet to be announced, but with the diversity of this line up, expect to learn from the best in the business.
4. The Game Designer Worked On Guitar HeroMarcus Henderson is passionate about spreading the joys of playing guitar, and that passion definitely came through in both his playing and attitude. Best known as recording the majority of the music for the Guitar Hero franchise, Henderson is an expereicned game designer and guitarist, and also has his own Epiphone signature model guitar. If anyone can bring the guitar back to guitar-based video games, it’s probably Henderson, and with him helming the game, Bandfuse may be destined for Guitar Hero status.
5. Shred U Is The New School Of Rock
While Bandfuse is much more than just an extended instructional video, its heart and soul is in the Shred U mode, which features the aforementioned rock legends teaching players how to best approach playing guitar and living the rock n’ roll lifestyle. These series of instructional videos and tutorials serve to educate the player from the best and brightest, and should be the first stop for anyone looking to delve into what is initially a somewhat overwhelming experience.
6. It’s More Than Just A Simulator
Unlike Guitar Hero and Rock Band, or even Rocksmith, Bandfuse requires more than just the inclination to rock. Rather, it gives a realistic portrayal of the challenges of learning guitar. While it’s not geared specifically toward a hardcore audience, players may find it difficult to stick with it, as most aspiring guitarists hit a brick wall at mediocre. While practice, of course, makes perfect, practicing Call of Duty is a heck of a lot easier and gives much more instant gratification than honing a potentially lifelong skill with practical applications. Luckily, there’s Shred U for that.
7. Pitch and Tone Can Be Changed At Any Time
One of the most innovative features of Bandfuse is its pitch and tone settings. Incorporating the real sounds of various amps and effect pedals, the game allows you to change the sound of your shredding on a whim, including in the middle of a song. If you think you can make Rush’s’Limelight’ sound better (which you probably can’t), you can adjust the amp and effect pedal settings, playing a hard rock or cleaner rock, or even reggae-like version of the song. Clearly, this is a more advanced feature, but experimentation bares rewards, as the game allows you to save your custom sound settings if you create something that you feel is truly wonderful.
8. 100 Playable Songs Available At Launch
While the full song list has not yet been released, a reported 100 songs will be available upon release of Bandfuse, which currently has a tentative release date of November 2013. Songs range from Coldplay’s ‘Yellow’ to Pearl Jam’s ‘Im Alive’, and a list of already completed songs is currently available. 100 songs won’t be the end of it though, as plenty of DLC song packs will be created for download post-launch.
9. Bass and Vocal Skills Can Also Be Honed
While Bandfuse’s main focus is guitar, players can also utilize bass and vocals, which are given the same level of scrutiny and authenticity that guitar is within the game. Additionally, the game features the Rock Band mechanic where up to four players can get together and jam out, although drums are notably absent, as that would easily require another year in the development cycle. Still, the multiplayer aspect of the game could be the 21st centuries answer to starting a garage band, and maybe ten years down the line, the next Nirvana will come from Bandfuse.
10. There Will Me Multiple Launch Packs
As shown above, multiple Bandfuse packages will be available upon the game’s launch in November. The three packages are the Artist Pack, Band Pack and Guitar Pack. The Artist pack is priced at $69.99 and will feature the game, guitar jack, headphone extension and an acoustic guitar adapter. The Band pack will have the aforementioned features as well as a multiple instrument extender and a microphone, and will be priced at $79.99. Finally, the Guitar Pack will have everything from the previous two packs, and will also feature a Fender Squire guitar, and will have a price point of $199.99, making it the ideal pack for the beginner who doesn’t own one yet.
With the goal of making learning guitar fun and rewarding again, Bandfuse: Rock Legends has the right idea, and if successful, may lead some guitar teachers giving lessons to bored Suburban teens looking for alternative employment