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Rock Band Blitz: What the critics are saying

This edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Harmonix's downloadable rhythm game Rock Band Blitz, which reviewers describe as "a fine way to breathe new life into your existing Rock Band library."

Danny Cowan, Blogger

September 5, 2012

5 Min Read

This edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Harmonix's downloadable rhythm game Rock Band Blitz, which reviewers describe as "a fine way to breathe new life into your existing Rock Band library." Rock Band Blitz currently earns a score of 76 out of 100 at Metacritic.com. IGN's Greg Miller scores Rock Band Blitz at 8.5 out of 10. "Rock Band Blitz proves that not every game revolving around music needs to be banished to the Island of Misfit Toys," he writes. "With fast, challenging gameplay, the $14.99 download's focus on high scores should get you and your friends list bopping to the music on your hard drive once again." "Rock Band Blitz takes the franchise's note highways and connects them to your controller," Miller explains. "You use the shoulder buttons to cycle through the drum, guitar, bass, mic and keyboard highways, and then tap the D-pad and a face button to play the descending notes." The game recalls developer Harmonix's earlier efforts. "The setup is a lot like PS2's Amplitude, PSP's Rock Band Unplugged and Rock Band 3 on the DS," Miller notes. "The notes are coming no matter what, so you have to be quick on the trigger and willing to jump around to master every track. When you're on a roll, it's easy to feel like god's gift to gaming." "This system is equal parts ZOMG excitement and the frustration of hindsight," Miller continues. "To truly succeed in Rock Band Blitz, you need an intimate knowledge of the songs so that you've concurred the minimal keyboard notes before a bass solo takes you to a checkpoint." "Rock Band Blitz is great," Miller praises. "The core gameplay will keep you switching and tapping like a madman or woman, and the inability to fail allows anyone to get excited and enjoy the experience. Once you master that, the high scores and bragging rights will call your name and get their hooks in if you're that type of gamer." Carolyn Petit at GameSpot rates Rock Band Blitz at 7.5 out of 10. "A frustrating coin system sometimes puts a damper on the fun," she warns, "but for the most part, Rock Band Blitz is an enjoyably competitive way to rock out to some great tunes, and a fine way to breathe new life into your existing Rock Band library." The scoring system is remarkably complex, Petit explains: "If you hit enough notes on a lane, its point multiplier goes up by one, though you can't stay on a single lane indefinitely and continue increasing its multiplier throughout an entire song. Once you've increased the multiplier by three, you can't increase it anymore until you pass a checkpoint in the song, and the level cap for the next section of the song goes up to three higher than your lowest current multiplier." The selectable power-ups are sometimes problematic, however. "Power-ups bring a bit of strategy to the game -- some power-ups pair better with others, and are better suited to certain songs than others -- and actions like pursuing runaway notes and trying to keep a pinball on the field give the gameplay a lively unpredictability," Petit writes. "The problem with the power-ups is that you need to spend coins to purchase them each time you select them for a song you're about to play. You earn coins by playing songs, but the number of coins you earn from a song is often significantly less than you spent on power-ups for the song, so playing songs can result in a net loss. This can lead to situations where you need to play songs with less than a full complement of power-ups at your disposal just to earn coins." "The core gameplay model of Harmonix's classic games Frequency and Amplitude has aged very well -- it's still a whole lot of fun to weave through the elements of a song, tapping out beats on a controller," Petit says. "It's unfortunate that the coin system may occasionally interfere with your quest for rock-and-roll domination, and that you need to be on Facebook to take advantage of all of the game's features, but Rock Band Blitz is still a very good way to keep the Rock Band train rolling." Games Radar's Lucas Sullivan gives Rock Band Blitz 3 out of 5 stars. "The immediate comparison to make would be Harmonix's 2001 PlayStation 2 breakout title FreQuency, and its fantastic 2003 follow-up Amplitude," he begins. "Sadly, Rock Band Blitz's fleeting fun falls short of the addictive arcade action of those titles." The existing Rock Band library gives Blitz a large amount of playable content. "In addition to the 25 included songs, which can all be played in Rock Band 3 and range from Ugh (Fall Out Boy's 'A Little Less Sixteen Candles') to Righteous ('I'm Still Standing' by Elton John), you can boot up any preexisting DLC song on your hard drive and play it for points," Sullivan explains. "Strangely, there's no difficulty select -- Blitz determines a challenge level for you, and you're at its mercy if that song is brutally demanding." "This is where the game starts to feel a bit shaky," Sullivan warns. "Two-button jamming works great when you're in the groove of a familiar song, but for more difficult levels or songs you've never heard, the hardest bits devolve into button mashing." Sullivan also takes issue with the game's power-up system. "Each time you play a song, you'll need to spend 'Blitz Coins' to use power-ups, a currency granted after each song or via Facebook-interconnected goals. They're not microtransactions for real-world cash -- but seeing as how it's nearly impossible to get a good score without them, you'll often be forced to farm coins just to compete with your buddy's scores. It feels like the sort of grinding you'd find in free-to-play games, not in a title in this genre." "After nearly five years of investment in DLC for Rock Band as a platform, Rock Band Blitz offers up new means of playing all of the songs you've bought," Sullivan concludes. "But without a full-fledged campaign or multiplayer progression, chasing high scores on the Blitz leaderboards can't help but feel a bit hollow. Although the premise is good, it ultimately falls short, and you might be better off just picking another instrument from your typical choice and rediscovering Rock Band with another play style."

About the Author(s)

Danny Cowan


Danny Cowan is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist for Gamasutra and its subsites. Previously, he has written reviews and feature articles for gaming publications including 1UP.com, GamePro, and Hardcore Gamer Magazine.

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