Rock Band big in Japan

Harmonix strikes deal with Lumines dev Q Entertainment to help develop a "heavily localized" version of its popular multi-instrument rhythm game across the Pacific.

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Around the turn of the century, Konami helped establish the instrument-based rhythm genre by releasing two games--Guitar Freaks (1999) and Drummania (2000)--in Japan. Now, after nearly a decade since Taiko titles reigned supreme, the island nation is getting a new wave of rock-and-roll-centric rhythm games.

Less than a month after Konami announced its re-entry in to the sector with Rock Revolution, Harmonix announced a "heavily localized" version of its triple-platinum-plus-selling Rock Band, cryptically titled Rock Band: Japan. According to Harmonix, the game is the first Western-developed rhythm title to be reworked for Japan, and will feature many Japanese acts. No release date or platforms have yet been announced.

Even more interesting is the company that is partnering with Harmonix to ensure Rock Band's award-winning gameplay doesn't get lost in translation. That would be none other than Q Entertainment, the independent developer founded by Tetsuya Mizuguchi, famed designer of groundbreaking rhythm game Space Channel 5. The studio, founded in 2003, was behind the wildly popular Lumines puzzle series and the less popular Meteos, Ninety-Nine Nights, and Every Extend Extra Extreme.

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