Power Gig: Rise of the SixString Update - Hands-On With Guitar and Drums

How does a rhythm game work with a real guitar and invisible drums?

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Power Gig: Rise of the SixString
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Though the rhythm game market isn't in the skyrocketing phase it was in just a couple of years ago, there are still some interesting new games to be found here and there. One of the most unique of these is a full-band game set for release this fall called Power Gig: Rise of the SixString. Developed by the upstart Seven45 Studios, this game uses a guitar peripheral outfitted with real strings that pulls double duty as a game controller and a real, functional electric guitar when plugged into an amplifier. We covered the game back in March for the Game Developers Conference, and with the Electronic Entertainment Expo right around the corner, we got another chance to play Power Gig and check out the newly unveiled drum peripheral.

Power Gig certainly has the leather pants and marching band vest outfits down.
Power Gig certainly has the leather pants and marching band vest outfits down.

What's New: Seven45 Studios showed its drum peripheral for the first time ever, and it's more or less the polar opposite of what we had in mind. While the guitar controller is all about being as close to a real guitar as possible, both in terms of form and function, Seven45 knew it couldn't get away with that for a drum kit because of living room size constraints. So instead, it took the opposite approach. The drum kit is a compact device made up of four waffle-sized circles and a kick pedal sitting on the floor. The circles emit LED lights, which register in the drumsticks you hold in your hands to tell where the two are in relation to one another. Then the accelerometers in the sticks tell the kit when you're swinging, and the result is one of the most technologically innovative versions of air drumming to date.

Power Gig's novel AirStrike drums.
Power Gig's novel AirStrike drums.

Unfortunately, we had some problems with this hardware. The main issue is that the drums are rather finicky in the way they detect where you're aiming your sticks above the circles on the ground. You kind of have to imagine an invisible cylinder sticking up from each circle and try to drum within that area, though the kit itself doesn't seem to be terribly accurate at this early stage in development. If the developers can find a way to make the peripheral more reliable, then the whole thing stands a chance of being really cool, but right now there are definitely some wrinkles to iron out.

What's Different: We had seen the guitar before, but this time we got to play it. Unsurprisingly for a functioning electric guitar, this thing has some heft to it. But the act of plucking a string with a guitar pick rather than pressing a clicky fret button makes for a much nicer tactile experience. The only problem is that those who aren't seasoned guitar players may run into some issues with sore fingers, since pressing down on thin metal strings if you don't have calluses on your fingertips can take its toll after a while. But overall, we enjoyed the guitar portion of the game--much more than the drumming.

What's The Same: Everything else about the game is the same, right on down to a visual presentation that seeks to imitate Rock Band and Guitar Hero with images of hard rockers onstage in the background while you're jamming away. The user interface could stand to be cleaned up, but for the most part, the game sports an inoffensive look.

Here they are in action.
Here they are in action.

What Impression The Game Made This Time: We like the guitar, feel a little worried about the drums, and are indifferent about the game's general style. That leaves one thing: the music. Seven45's VP of marketing took to the stage to announce three artists appearing in Power Gig who haven't been in any music games previously. We were hardly won over by the first two, Kid Rock and Dave Matthews Band, but the third artist was Eric Clapton, and anyone familiar with his guitar work knows what a steal that is for a music game. All things considered, Power Gig made a variety of impressions on us this time--some good, some not--but at the very least, it maintains its status as an interesting endeavor in the music game genre.

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