Beatles rocking all-new game in Q4 2009

[UPDATE] MTV Games and Harmonix developing original non-Rock Band title exploring Fab Four's entire career and "visual imagery"; EA to distribute.

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Following a teaser announcement, MTV Games and Apple Corps. announced this morning that they are exclusively collaborating on a rhythm game based on the Beatles. The game will be developed by MTV-owned Harmonix, the original developer of Guitar Hero and the current developer of Rock Band, and will hit store shelves worldwide during the 2009 holiday season. No platforms were announced.

Expect some psychedelic visuals come next Christmas.
Expect some psychedelic visuals come next Christmas.

However, contrary to a Wall Street Journal report, the game will not be a Rock Band title. "Let me make this clear. This game is not just a Rock Band expansion pack," said Harmonix cofounder Alex Rigopoulos, obliquely referring to the recently announced AC/DC Rock Band game. "It's a full, new music game built from the ground up." Rigopoulos confirmed that the game would work with Rock Band instruments and "instruments from other games" when he was asked about Guitar Hero peripheral interoperability. No specific instruments were mentioned.

"We're not in the business of making stand-alone games for every band out there, but when a band like the Beatles comes along, it's the perfect confluence," said Van Toffler, president of MTV Networks' Music/Films/Logo group in an early morning conference call. Toffler declined to comment on whether the agreement will also apply to downloadable content for Rock Band or downloadable music in general. Currently, the Beatles do not offer their music for sale digitally via any venue, including iTunes.

Published by MTV Games and distributed by Electronic Arts, the Beatles title "will be an interactive music-making game," according to Jones. He also said it will cover the Liverpool quartet's entire catalog, from their first album, Please Please Me (1963), to their last album, Let It Be (1970). The game will also incorporate elements of their career, but neither MTV nor Apple Corps. would comment on whether or not Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, or John Lennon would be playable.

Starr and McCartney, the two surviving Beatles, talked up the game in a press release. "The project is a fun idea which broadens the appeal of the Beatles and their music. I like people having the opportunity to get to know the music from the inside out," said McCartney. "The Beatles continue to evolve with the passing of time and how wonderful that the Beatles' legacy will find its natural progression into the 21st century through the computerized world we live in," said the fan-averse Ringo Starr.

Intriguingly, the Beatles game will incorporate visual elements from the group's psychedelic album art and their films. "A visual exploration of the Beatles' imagery is a big part of this project," said Rigopoulos, raising the prospect of Yellow Submarine-influenced undersea gameplay. Giles Martin, Grammy-award-winning musical director of the opulent Beatles-based Cirque du Soleil musical Love, will collaborate on the project.

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