Rock Band DLC: Skullcrusher Mountain!!!

Woot! This week’s Rock Band DLC is a 3-song pack, for $3, that includes:

* “Skullcrusher Mountain” – Jonathan Coulton
* “Livin’ on the Corner of Dude and Catastrophe” – MC Frontalot
* “Shhh….” – Darkest of the Hillside Thickets

All are masters, and all proceeds go to Penny Arcade’s Child’s Play Charity.

Time to let my rampant JoCo Fanboyism run free….

I might owe Harmonix an apology

A couple of weeks back I wrote a rant against Harmonix (Harmonix can kiss my behind) after I learned that Rock Band 2 was going to be a timed exclusive for the XBox 360 (and I happened to get it for the PS3 due to my love/hate relationship with the 360).

Well after doing some snooping around, I now get the feeling that Microsoft is just doing a spin job on this timed exclusive stuff. I think Harmonix is just taking a little bit longer to finish the PS3 version, which is a totally different thing from accepting a boatload of money from Microsoft in order to shaft PS3 owners.

I have a few reasons for this change of heart. First, if you look at release dates on Gamestop and Amazon (and I know these aren’t always, or even often, reliable), they have the XBox 360 version, game only, with a launch date of September 14th and the bundles (ie with instruments) for both PS3 & XBox360, as well as the PS3 game only, listed for October 19th.

Second, Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb was on Leo Laporte’s “This Week in Tech” podcast talking about E3. During the conversation Hryb mentioned that Rock Band 2 was a limited time XBox 360 Exclusive and when Laporte asked him how long it was exclusive for, Hryb claimed he didn’t know.

So first of all, if Microsoft had purchased a “Timed Exclusive” window from Harmonix, I suspect Hryb would know exactly how long that exclusive was for (though I’ll grant you he might not have wanted to share that knowledge). Second, it seems almost silly to buy exclusivity for only a month (assuming the Amazon and Gamestop dates are accurate). And lastly, if it was a business deal you’d expect both the stand-alone game and the bundle to be exclusive, not just the game.

So now my suspicion is that Harmonix had the 360 version finished earlier and just figured they might as well ship it asap rather than wait for the instruments and the PS3 version to be completed. And when Microsoft learned about this, they started using it as a “timed exclusive” marketing point, with no money changing hands.

Harmonix can kiss my behind

A long while back I wrote a series of posts comparing Guitar Hero 3 to Rock Band as a newcomer to this style of game. I ended up coming down in favor of Rock Band.

Well now I’m kicking myself. You see, I purchased the games for the PS3 since, y’know, every other time I turn on my XBox 360 the stupid thing breaks. And now Harmonix is repaying my loyalty (and the loyalty of all PS3 owners) by having Rock Band 2 come out as a time-limited XBox 360 Exclusive. Talk about a kick in the teeth.

So now I’ll stop buying add-on songs, and start waiting for Guitar Hero World Tour. I’m pretty interested in its ‘create a song’ feature anyway.

I know its incredibly naive of me, but I always thought of Harmonix as being a company with higher moral values than this. But nope, Microsoft came with a money hat and Harmonix sold PS3 owners out without an apparent second thought.

Guitar Hero World Tour previews intrigue

Previews of Guitar Hero World Tour are hitting all over the web (I’ll throw a few links in at the bottom of this post). I was rather surprised to find that GHWT was offering a lot of what I was hoping for in Rock Band 2.

Let’s get the big bad news out of the way first. Your downloaded Guitar Hero III content will not work in Guitar Hero World Tour. Wow. I mean just…wow. That’s going to be a huge drawback to those of you who’ve invested in a lot of DLC for GH3. Let’s hope they find some way to change that, or to give you GHWT song credits based on what you’ve spent on GH3 DLC, or something.

That big ugly hobgoblin out of the way, the rest is all goodness. Of course they’re adding a whole band feature including an even more elaborate drum kit than Rock Band has. But as someone who generally plays solo, what had me smiling was the 5 career paths, one each for lead guitar, bass, drums and vocal, plus one for the whole band. And rather than just a list of songs you play in order, apparently these careers are going to be more open, letting you choose where you want to play next and so forth. Hopefully it’ll be a bit more ‘game-ish’ than the solo stuff in GH 3 and Rock Band.

Additionally you’ll be able to set up set lists of up to 7 songs, and play them in order without having to go back to the menus. Great for when you just want to kick back and enjoy playing.

The Guitar Hero World Tour guitar has been made a lot more realistic looking, and has a kind of ‘slide panel’ on the neck for free-styling. It’s a bit larger than the other ‘fake guitars’ out there, too. Closer to full size.

But the really huge news is the Music Studio feature, which lets you create your own songs. You can capture them as you play, or go into an editor and get precise. Once you have a great song written you can share it with friends, of course. Apparently the editor gets pretty deep if you want to really dig into it.

It’ll be interesting to see what Harmonix does with Rock Band 2, but right now I’m thinking that I’ll jump ships and be a Guitar Hero fanboy for the next iteration. I really like the idea of being able to use a game to write songs! Not that I have an iota of talent in that department, mind you! 🙂

Check it out for yourself!

Guitar Hero: World Tour First Look (IGN)
Exhibit: Guitar Hero World Tour (Nukoda)
World Tour: New Details Galore (Game Informer)