Inner Console Wars


Hold onto your geek-hats. I have a confession. I want Rock Band and I want it bad. In the past month or so, I decided that when I do have some money for myself again, I’m going to buy a Wii. Then, a little something came along and threw a wrench into my thinking.

This little something is really a big something.

I played Rock Band.

That isn’t the big part.

The big part was when I realized how much the Wii’s hardware sucked.

Let me explain. Rock Band is a game that you purchase four fake USB instruments with. You have a bass, guitar, drums, and microphone. Sounds dumb, right? It’s a bit like DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) meets karaoke to be sure. But hell, it’s fun to play. You download any number of songs. You can play any or all of these instruments for by yourself, or with up to three friends. The better you do, the more the audience loves you. You individually pick skill level on each instruments so the n00bs can rock with the hermit video game jedi masters. There’s more to it, of course, but essentially, it’s just a whole lot of fun. It’s also not so super complicated that you’d think all of the next gen consoles would be able to handle it, right?

Wrong. Rock Band for the Wii doesn’t even let you download songs.

What? Why? Is it because the Wii had less than a gig of internal memory? Is it because Wii online is only good for emulating (and not even emulating well) old Nintendo games? Or is it simpler- is it because the hardware just sucks ass.

When I decided to get the Wii, it wasn’t just to play my old friends Mario and Samus, it was to play games like this. I wanted to swing the sword as link and use the Wii fit (essentially a new power pad that you don’t run on). Games I imagined getting were interactive, innovative games like these. Yet, Nintendo perhaps skimped a bit too much if a fairly simple concept like Rock Band is a bit too hard to handle.

So here I am, on the fence and leaning towards a Xbox 360 like I never thought I’d get.

Then one of the brilliant ninjas at work pointed out that I have a good job and could maybe eventually get both.

Wow, I said. I’ve never done that before. Two console systems in one generation has always been out of my league. Now, will I? Maybe. Until then, what comes first? A Wii and Wii Fit or an Xbox 360 and Rock Band?

Looking at the unfamiliar place that is my apartment, I wonder if I’d have any time to play either after I decide.

  • SteveJ

    Rock Band wins out for me, honestly. The only real issue is, where do I put the instruments? Well, for me (because my wife is veerrrrry accomodating), the guitars hang on the wall – ROCK! – and the drum set sits on top of the entertainment center because there isn’t any other place to put it besides maybe the garage or attic. The drum set takes up a lot of room, sadly, but it’s my favorite by far.

    I buy a system when it has a game I have to have. No PS3 or 360 for me yet, I get by with the last generation. I have Rock Band for PS2, which does suck, because of the download issue. If I have to though, I can use the PS2 instruments with the PS3 I eventually cave in and buy in the next decade.

    The wii has a lot going for it, and I’m glad I own it, but if you have the friends to play with, rock band is an even better party game than smash. No wii fit yet.

  • http://www.ccceramics.com Celes

    SteveJ-

    I’m starting to think I need a tv first. I have a 13 inch from the 80s I play my vids on. :) Money… one pay day I’ll have spare cash to buy stuff I want.

    Does the wife play Rock Band with you?

  • SteveJ

    “I’m starting to think I need a tv first” – I hear that. I actually have a decent tv I picked up for $100 a few years ago, but it’s not HD, so I can’t get too excited about 360 or PS3 graphics. So the question is not do I like the game $500 worth, but do I like it $3500 worth? I also have my 80s era tv to play on when the other tv is occupied with tivo watchings. I think that tv has traveled close to 10000 miles, survived years in a dorm room with 4+ guys, and it’s only missing the up channel button.

    I’d keep an eye out on craigslist. I just got a like-new dryer yesterday for $50 and I’m totally stoked. It’s so much less than I would’ve paid to fix mine (which I broke *good* when I tried to fix it :) And this was within 4 hours of breaking mine, so big bonus.

    “Does the wife play Rock Band with you?” – Hecks yeah, she’s awesome that way. She totally owns me in Guitar Hero. She’s not 733T, but she enjoys 20 year old nintendo games, sims, and most of the horror games. And making me look bad in guitar hero. Of course that’s part of the reason I like RB and GH, it’s not something I’m naturally awesome at because I’ve been mashing buttons for decades.

  • http://www.ccceramics.com Celes

    Normally I’m all over used stuff, but now that I have this new job thing, I actually am thinking about getting some new things for the first time. The TV I have now was free- got it from someone emptying their apartment in Portland, ME. I’ll keep it no matter, likely will keep a couple of the lower res systems hooked to it. Atari 2600 wouldn’t benefit from anything HD. I’ve been told some TV things to look for- 720p resolution, HDMI input, and HD tuner. Also, PC connectivity would be nice for all the stuff I watch on my laptop. I’m not looking to go huge or to spend more than $500 on it. TVs are pretty cheap it seems. I don’t know much about them, so I’m a bit hesitant to just go buy one. I need to lurk on the net and talk to people a bit first.

    It’s great the wife plays vids with you. I just had two guys at work admit to me today that their significant others have either ceased or severely limited their WOW playing. I’m not one for MMORPGs, but leave a person to their loves in life if you love them. If I was married with kids, we’d totally be like the Partidge family, only with Rock Band. :)

    If I’m going to spend the $ on Rock Band, I’m not getting it without song download. I have my music tastes and that’s that. If I want it without the downloads, I might as well get it for the PS2 which I have.

    I played with the Wii Fit this weekend. I’m into it. I don’t know how much more will come out for it, but even if nothing else does, the yoga – balance – posture stuff for a cube monkey like me would be worth its weight in gold. It really is like having a personal trainer, exercise video, and video game in one. The Game Stop by my house is sold out, but then, I have time to make the money to get the Wii or this TV or whatever in the first place.

    Right now, I’m thinking of getting both, but over a period of time.

  • SteveJ

    “I just had two guys at work admit to me today that their significant others have either ceased or severely limited their WOW playing.”

    I don’t play MMORPGs either, but I could see where the SO might get upset. My in-laws play alllll the time. Its geeky chic, but scary at the same time. I could see where you would get jealous if you don’t play too; if you want to be good at it you seem to obsess a bit. Why it’s any worse than playing guitar for 6 hrs/day I don’t know, but it definitely creates a barrier from real life (Too Immersive?). I actually work with a guy who swapped his work schedule so he gets off early and can play while the wife is at work.

    Good luck finding a tv. I always have the problem with electronics that I start small and then find one more feature I’ve got to have, and then one more, and then…2nd mortgage.

  • http://www.ccceramics.com Celes

    Hey- I don’t play MMORPGs either. I don’t believe in paying a subscription for a video game or dedicating a consistent block of my time to video games. Some days I’ll play all day- others not at all and I like that. Feeling like you’re forced to play a game to keep up is weird to me.

    Thanks- I’m sure I’ll find a TV. I have geeks surrounding me giving advice and plenty of time before I have the extra cash to get one.

  • http://taocowboy.blogspot.com/ The Cowboy

    Funny, I played Rock Band for the first time tonight. I tried the guitar, then the drums. To top it off it was right before the XNA users’ group meeting, so as I was making a complete idiot of myself (pardon the irony) a group of geeks walks in, all of which could kick my butt at it. The 9yo included. Still, that game rocks. I’m gonna have to get it.

    So according to that chart, I hate video games and only have fake Internet friends? How depressing….

  • http://www.ccceramics.com Celes

    The chart never lies, Cowboy. It is the word of the video game gods.

    I picked up the guitar and bass pretty quick (on easy that is), and the singing was no prob, but the drums are HARD. Hand-eye coordination does not equal foot coordination!!!

    I got a 99% singing Creep (Radio head) and sang a few others. It didn’t like the way I was screaming and growling “March of the Pigs” (nine inch nails). I guess it wanted me to sing notes for the screaming parts. Weird. It’s okay because those present disagreed with the game. :)

    It’s nice that it’s a game you can play both with n00bs and experts at the same time. It really is.

  • SteveJ

    I love the drums and I was discussing the whole bass pedal issue with a drummer buddy. First off, I flip the the pedal around. It’s more natural for me and I can do it for far longer hitting it with my heel rather than my toe. He thought that was bizarre and it really really got on his nerves. It’s probably a lot like when I help someone on the computer and they hunt and peck their way through a log-in screen, I just want to steal the keyboard away.

    Anyway….the useful tip I got was that you hold the pedal down between notes. This helped alot, as I don’t lose the pedal anymore, my foot gets a little less tired, and I can use the bare minimum of effort to let it up a bit and then push it down.

    “It didn’t like the way I was screaming and growling “March of the Pigs” (nine inch nails).” – Yes this ticks me off too. You telling me I don’t know how to sing Enter Sandman? I only sing on easy though, I have nothing that remotely resembles pitch.

  • http://www.ccceramics.com Celes

    I started getting a foot cramp using the foot pedal. Foot was tired. It wasn’t pretty. I don’t think I knew that I could hold it down in between- I’ll try that next time. Also, this may annoy drummers everywhere, but using your heel sounds worth investigating as well. Thanks for the tips!

    I do have the ability to sing notes, but with screaming parts of screaming songs, I would like to scream.

    One of the guys here at work did a hilarious rendition of the beginning of March of the Pigs sang like a lounge singer, snapping his fingers. That’s what the game wants from me, I know. I just don’t want to give it. The game also didn’t like how I ‘sang’ “Oh, yeah” either. Parts like that aren’t really part of the ‘sheet music’ in my mind.

    It’s fun to scream the screaming parts. I wonder about hardcore and death metal songs and this game. “Growl on key, now” :)

  • SteveJ

    I know on Sabotage, for instance, it’s actually trying to match vowel and consonant sounds since you’re rapping. I can do that one on hard, but only because I know all the words.