Rock Revolution Hands-On

We pound out some Twisted Sister in Konami's new multi-instrument rhythm game.

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One of the new announcements made at last night's Konami press event in San Francisco was for a rhythm game called Rock Revolution. During the evening's opening presentation, they literally pulled the curtain off the game by revealing the first instrument peripheral, a drum kit featuring six pads and a kick pedal. Although no information has been released on the guitar peripheral, we had the chance to test out the drums in a head-to-head drummer duel set to Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It."

Drum away on a kit filled with all sorts of pads.
Drum away on a kit filled with all sorts of pads.

The most striking thing about the drums is that they've upped the number of pads over Rock Band's kit by a fairly hefty margin. On the top you've got representations of three drums and three cymbals. The drums are laid out in circles, with a big one and two smaller ones. The cymbals are shaped like triangles, and all three are the same size. All of the pads are placed on the same level, so you shouldn't expect to see the cymbals raised any higher than the drums. In addition, there's a kick pedal on the ground.

We asked a Konami rep on hand to explain the reasoning behind such a distinctive pad layout. He told us that it's been done this way for enhanced realism. Each pad is a dedicated part of the drum, so no matter the song, the large circle is always meant to represent the floor tom, the triangle will always play the sound of the hi-hat, and so on.

After this conversation, we had the chance to try the drums for ourselves. The pads are quite a bit softer than both the original and newly designed Rock Band drums. And for as quiet as they are, the extra padding didn't seem to have any impact on the responsiveness. One tricky thing about the drums is that even though there are so many more inputs, the surface area isn't much bigger than a Rock Band set. This makes it a little tough to hit the right pads, especially considering that the cymbals are shaped like triangles, which even further reduces the target area for your drumsticks. However, we really liked the feel of the kick pedal; it was much sturdier than the Rock Band one and didn't feel like it was bending under the weight of our foot.

Notes are played just as you would expect: You see gems coming down from the top of the screen, and your job is to hit them just as they pass through the markers at the bottom. It's a bit trickier here because you've got seven notes to look for at all times. The Konami rep we spoke with said they're certainly looking to make the proper difficulty adjustments for the higher skill levels--in relation to other drumming games with fewer pads--so that you're not faced with impossible odds.

Konami is predicting that the final tracklist will come in at 40 songs, to be released at retail with the usual postrelease downloadable content to follow shortly thereafter. They've yet to officially confirm any of the songs, but we caught a glimpse at quite a few based on the track selection offered in this early build. In addition to the aforementioned Twisted Sister, there's also some Motley Crue, Quiet Riot, System of a Down, and even Avril Lavigne. We also noticed quite a few songs featured in Rock Band, such as "Blitzkrieg Bop" and "Are You Gonna Be My Girl?"

In addition to licensed tracks, you'll have the opportunity to record your own music in a studio jam mode in which you can record up to eight tracks on a single song. Other gameplay modes will run the gamut from a career mode featuring real-world venues, online and offline multiplayer consisting of versus, co-op, and band duels, and a rehearsal space to work on those tougher numbers.

Rocking out with a trucker hat is entirely optional.
Rocking out with a trucker hat is entirely optional.

The demo that we were shown was for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game, but it will also be released on the Nintendo DS and Wii. Unlike console versions, the DS will support vocals through the built-in microphone. With this one, you'll use the stylus for all of the instruments, requiring you to draw gestures on the screen. With the Wii you're essentially playing air guitar and air drums with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk.

Rock Revolution has yet to be given a firm release date. Right now, Konami has slated it for a fall release. Before then, you should expect to see more details from us on the upcoming guitar peripheral.

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