Rock Band and Guitar Hero not dumbed down enough for you? Just plug in We Rock: Drum King, a forthcoming Wii game for air drummers.
Aside from (maybe) a rough sense of rhythm, there isn’t one goddamned thing you can learn about guitar from Rock Band. Hitting a plastic bar while mashing plastic keys obviously does exactly shit for your skills. The same can be said for Rock Band bass, and if you’re the “singer” in your Rock Band band, you’re a sad attention whore. But what about drums?
Well, let’s look at this dude. Over a million people have watched him play “Enter Sandman,” and he’s used this fame to say the game teaches some limited fundamentals on drumming. He then goes on to say that everyone has a “musical mind” and that this game releases it. Maybe I’m missing something, but when I think about what separates a musician from a Microsoft employee, it’s more than a passable electronic rendition of “Man in the Box.”
Here is a video of Mitch Mitchell, a revolutionary drummer by anyone’s estimation, demonstrating his impressive drum skills with the Jimi Hendrix Experience. A little over 120,000 people have watched this. Now here’s a video of some choad playing “Chop Suey” by System of a Down on Rock Band drums. Nearly 400,000 views. Of some random dude. Playing “Chop Suey.” On Rock Band drums.
Now I know in the world of YouTube, even more so than in other places, people love to watch total garbage. And I know that a lot of kids these days are much more into seeing Travis Barker play a Soulja Boy song than looking up Terry Bozzio, but this doesn’t make me any more optimistic about the attitude cultivated by Rock Band when it comes to musicianship.
Am I jealous that this didn’t exist when I was a teenager? Fuck no. If it did, I probably would’ve been happy enough to play fake drums over some Green Day song instead of actually learning an instrument and creating my own music. You know, the cool thing musicians do. And it’s not like you can play any song you want on Rock Band. I know they keep expanding the game to include even more Nickelback tunes, but an entire swath of amazing musicianship is being ignored so Gene Simmons can go cash another check.
The main problem, though, is that the visceral enjoyment most drummers get out of their instrument is completely neutered. Some of these YouTube stars talk about how they also play real drums and gaming is just as fun. These people are either bad drummers or their parents won’t allow them to keep living for free in the basement unless they stop being loud.
I’m not saying that the game is easy. I watched this, and it didn’t seem easy. But there’s a lot of shit that’s hard to do that doesn’t make you a better musician, and being a good musician is still harder than anything you do on this dumb game.
Now of course I’m willing to accept that I’m blowing this out of proportion and that there are still plenty of kids out there (my two-year old nephew included) who are picking up real live drums instead of this nerdy, shameful alternative. But when people start feeling as though they’re almost as good as Lars Ulrich because they can play “Master of Puppets” on the “Grand Master With Extra Jerkoff Stars” level, it’s like the fat kid who thinks a high score on Dance Dance Revolution makes him Baryshnikov.
Please rate your opinion on Rock Band drumming:
1. I would rather shit blood bi-weekly than play Rock Band.
2. I would rather shit blood bi-monthly than play Rock Band.
3. At least I’m somewhat competent at it unlike the game with that little queer plumber.
4. I think Rock Band has great potential to turn people into real drummers…just like Duckhunt turned people into excellent hunters.
5. You’re just jealous of my pointless talent in a game for children.
Everyone knows that the pedals on gaming drum kits suck severe ass in terms of playability, but one dude has filed a class action lawsuit claiming that the Rock Band stompers are shoddily made and “deprive [customers] of the value and enjoyment of their purchases.” Harmonix and MTV, the producers of the game, have released the following statement in response to the suit:
Harmonix and MTV Games are dedicated to consumers having an outstanding experience with our products. When used as directed, our drum pedals are designed to provide years of enjoyment. In addition, at the launch of Rock Band we offered consumers an extended opportunity return defective or broken hardware for any reason whatsoever—no questions asked. This litigation is opportunistic and baseless.
While our experience with Rock Band has been generally positive, we definitely think the pedal is on the worrisome side of fragile. Have you had any problems? Let us know in the comments.
Because game drumming simply isn’t silly enough (and that’s coming from someone who totally digs it), you can now wield a pair of illuminated sticks, The Ant Commandos. They’re made of plastic, come with AA batteries, and will set you back 19 bucks. Best of all, the LEDs actually get brighter as you play harder.
Super cheesy. In the good way.
Rock Band 2 is officially out today, and the lucky thumpers over at IGN got their sticks all over an Ion premium kit. It’ll cost you over $200 more than the standard Rock Band drums, but if you’re even remotely interested in having the most realistic drumming experience possible, the Ion appears to be the best off-the-shelf bet. From the review:
At the end of the day, the Ion Drum Kit is a fun peripheral to play with. It almost never misses a note when played properly (even when the pad is completely missed and only the rim of the pad is struck), and the cymbals certainly add a dynamic feature on its own. Even the pads themselves are leaps and bounds ahead of Rock Band’s standard kit. Not only are they incredibly quiet (great for those of us who live in an apartment), but they have the feel of practice drum pads that snare players and drummers learning their rudiments will be familiar with. This allows real rolls to be executed (although they are seldom used in Rock Band 2), giving the set a much more realistic feel than the standard Rock Band 2 kit.