Rock Band Blitz: Kicking It Old School

Say good-bye to plastic peripherals and hello to some streamlined, fast-paced rhythm action.

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Before Guitar Hero and Rock Band reduced our living rooms to a plastic peripheral junkyard, developer Harmonix made a little-known title for the PlayStation 2 called Frequency, a fast-paced rhythm game that used a standard PlayStation 2 controller to perform songs. So too did its follow-up, Amplitude, which upped the pace and made the seizure-inducing visuals even more outlandish. Both were incredibly tricky beasts to master, arguably much more so than even the most difficult of Rock Band tracks. They were games for the hardcore rhythm nut--frantic, fast, and completely ruthless.

If you've been hankering for a return to the old school, then we suggest keeping an eye on the upcoming XBLA and PSN release Rock Band Blitz. Though it bears the Rock Band name, there are no plastic peripherals required. Instead, you navigate the familiar scrolling note charts with your controller. Like in Frequency, you're tasked with performing each part of the song simultaneously, which in this case includes the drums, bass, guitar, and vocal lines.

Each instrument has just two note markers to follow, but don't for a second think that makes things easy--you need some serious coordination to rack up the points. That's down to having to navigate multiple tracks by flicking between them using your controller's triggers: spend too much time on a single instrument, and your multiplier goes down. The key to success is finding a balance between all the instruments before you hit one of the strategically placed checkpoints in each song, which increases your score bonus.

It's incredibly frantic stuff that's made all the more hectic by various power-ups you can assign yourself before each song. There's the bottle rocket power-up, which blows up a bunch of notes on the chart; the autoplay power-up, which is exactly as it sounds; and the pinball power-up, which places a ball on the chart you can bat around with the chart selector and use to remove notes from your stream. And, of course, there's the Star Power-like Blitz mode for all-out high-score carnage. Further powers are unlocked by earning XP, which you accumulate by your super-awesome rhythm skills.

While Rock Band Blitz is only a single-player experience, its longevity lies in leaderboards. All your scores are linked up with other users, and there's nothing more infuriating than seeing your once-mighty high score toppled by a friend. There's asynchronous multiplayer too, which is basically a virtual version of smack talk, letting you send out custom challenges to other players.

In terms of songs, Rock Band Blitz introduces 20 new ones, but also lets you play tracks from the huge Rock Band library. Any content from previous games, and any DLC you've bought, can be imported into Blitz for free. And, if that's still not enough songs for you, a music store--complete with recommendations based on the songs you play--is integrated into the game.

Sadly, Harmonix hasn't announced exactly how much Blitz is going to cost but has mentioned it'll be priced similarly to other XBLA and PSN titles. Regardless, it's shaping up to be a great little game, one that goes back to the roots of the genre for some seriously hardcore button bashing. It's definitely one to look forward to.

Rock Band Blitz is due for release this summer on XBLA and PSN. Look out for more on GameSpot soon.

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Mark Walton

Mark is a senior staff writer based out of the UK, the home of heavy metal and superior chocolate.
Rock Band Blitz

Rock Band Blitz

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30 comments
XanderMercury
XanderMercury

Interesting...Harmonix going back to their roots and showing that rhythm-based games that don't require plastic instruments can still be entertaining and relevant to today's market. I got a good feeling about this.

DVDVDcz
DVDVDcz

I am so excited about this one ... I hope that all my Rock Band DLCs on XBOX360 will work somehow easily on this game.

whitetiger3521
whitetiger3521

As a huge Amplitude fan I can't wait for this! Thank you Harmonix!!!!!!!

ps2fatboy
ps2fatboy

looks like some harmless fun

Raziel_0
Raziel_0

just 2 buttons to smash up???-- i prefer RB unplugged gameplay when you use almost all the buttons

darth_3pio
darth_3pio

Is it me or does this look just a little bit like Audiosurf?

MUKUSS
MUKUSS

I wish this was coming to the psvita too.

wilba789
wilba789

Looks just like a migraine ..... Oh I'am so old....lol

1stormbringer77
1stormbringer77

I've got a real B.C.Rich Warlock,NJ Series Guitar,a Fender Precession Jazz Base Guitar & a 12 Piece Ludwig Drum Set with a Gibraltar Cage,Zildjian/Paiste Cymbals,2 Wuhan china types & 6 piece cowbell tree. I tried the cheezy guitar for one day then gave it back to my friends kid.Real is better.

The_Prisoner
The_Prisoner

It seems like this game will be like Amplitude was, it's also like how RB:Unplugged on the PSP and the DS versions of RB. If it's $14.99 or less, I'll probably get it.

johnguelff
johnguelff

Amplitude is one of the best games ever..ive waited long for this day..so so happy..

Frequenxy
Frequenxy

Hmm...I've been waiting for an Amplitude sequel for years, and although this looks good, something about it isn't making me jump for joy. We'll see when it comes out.

boags24
boags24

Everyone's defending the plastic peripherals... Umm, what?

starfox15
starfox15

Very "meh" on this. I respect Harmonix a lot so we'll see what happens.

ohjtbehaaave
ohjtbehaaave

Yawn. I have a zillion plastic guitars and a drum set for a reason!!!

SR71halo
SR71halo

@Einath10 This isn't the first time they did a game like this; see Amplitude and Rock Band Unplugged. As far as I know, both games are considered to be VERY fun.

score89
score89

Im a HUGE RB fan my complete songlist is around 800-830, however i just dont understand the game play of blitz. In my own opinion no instrument = no RockBand

Elnath10
Elnath10

What The F....... no instruments?? then why the hell make this game anyway?.. what's the point? it will be boring, useless and very very bad...

Xx_Kares_xX
Xx_Kares_xX

This looks awesome, I loves amplitude, Rockband Unplugged and DJ Max Fever, so I'll probably love this one as well.

kzuke
kzuke

I still like the old plastic instruments! It really adds some novelty and more interactivity to the games!

4quarters
4quarters

A huge thumbs up for Harmonix refreshing an old game , and letting my nearly 200 rock band downloads get good use still!!!

Luminious0
Luminious0

niceee bringing back Amplitude!!!! style

Witchblade13
Witchblade13

I'm getting "Frequency" and "Amplitude" vibes. Might be worth checking this out for nostalgia sake.

kevb84
kevb84

Jessie's girl is in it....sold!

TheMudora
TheMudora

At least the money I put down on music is going to good use.

mat989
mat989

Yeah, remembers me of Rock Band for the PSP. It was awesome, yes, but wouldn't it me even more awesome if Harmonix throw up something more...uhh....original? They're just recycling the same game formula as 2002's Frequency game, for the PS2. How about doing just like Rocksmith, but with bass, drums, keyboard and vocals support? It's more pricey, but at least you're learning to play an instrument instead of just pressing your thumbs against buttons.

BowieNinja
BowieNinja

If only there was a spaceship and the game was called Amplitude 2. Not too bothered about the music in it so far either. Gonna keep my eyes on that set list.