LEGO Rock Band DS is the longtime sequel I've been waiting for

Lego Rock Band ds CoverNo, I'm not really excited that it's another Rock Band game or even yet another LEGO game, but that LEGO Rock Band DS is essentially the direct sequel to Harmonix's original rhythm games: Frequency and Amplitude.  For the unfamiliar, Harmonix's first two games were essentially the precursor to Rock Band where you played multiple instruments, but the catch was you had to flip between instruments after successfully playing a few measures of another.  The gameplay was quite a bit more complex than Harmonix's original Guitar Hero games as there were multiple sets of scrolling notes that you had to keep an eye on to efficiently keep your streak going.

LEGO Rock Band DS (along with the PlayStation Portable's Rock Band Unplugged) successfully emulates Harmonix's original cult hits on the PlayStation 2 along with mixing in a few tricks of their own.  One of the more unexpected challenges to LEGO Rock Band is that it uses four frets instead of the original's three.  Now, this is still less than Guitar Hero and Rock Band's set of five notes while playing guitar, but you have to remember you don't have any extra hardware, just the DS's buttons.  In the case of LEGO Rock Band DS, left and up on the D-pad along with X and A are used to hit the four notes.

Lego Rock Band ds GuitarObviously, the real reason I'm bothering to write about LEGO Rock Band DS is that I loved Frequency and Amplitude.  At the time I was introduced to them by the First Hour's own Steve, Guitar Hero wasn't out and the only other rhythm games out there was Dance Dance Revolution (which was great in its own right).  The games were honestly very challenging, both Steve and I knew what we were doing but there were always a few songs that knocked us around.  It was an awesome accomplishment to make it past a complicated part of a song, and this was just with three buttons to worry about!

So color me surprised when I hear that LEGO Rock Band DS is basically the spiritual sequel to my long-shelved loves.  I finally moved up to Hard difficulty (with Very Hard still available) after about 15 songs and I'm starting to feel challenged.  The game streamlines things a bit and it is much more obvious which instrument you should be playing next.  There's also a few note buffer after completing an instrument to give you time to switch over to the next, while you still have to be reasonably quick, you don't have to be lightning fast like in Frequency.

All around, really enjoying the game so far.  The song list is pretty fun but there's only so many tracks they can stuff onto a DS cartridge, I'm a bit worried the list will burn itself out before I'm done.  To really get the most out of this game you need to increase the difficulty as you proceed on the tour because you'll be playing the same song a couple of times.

I'll definitely be writing a full review on LEGO Rock Band DS once I finish it, look for it soon unless I actually get caught up in Dragon Quest IX.

Comments

Wouldn't call the DS version

Wouldn't call the DS version a music peripheral game.

Also I just looked up a video of it and I see what what's you're talking about in a comparison but it still seems really different from both Frequency and Amplitude :-\ Frequency even almost felt completely outdated by Amplitude (except that it had a really strong/different type of soundtrack). And this kinda feels like two steps back from Freq even. But I suppose they could only do so much on a portable with limited screen space. Also in the video I didn't see any logical instrument switching. Do sections eventually black out like in the originals if you complete so many bars in a row? It didn't really seem like it from the video.

There were a few other music games before those came out also, like Parappa/Umjammer and Space Channel 5. But certainly fairly rare until DDR started getting so massively popular.

And are you saying that we aren't the best gamers in the world? :P Nah, I really liked the difficulty of Frequency and you had to be really precise, unlike some music games (Amplitude seemed a bit more forgiving timing-wise and certainly switching lanes was easier too).

Lego Rock Band DS forces you

Lego Rock Band DS forces you to switch lanes because you have to keep the band players "happy." This is basically a simple gameplay mechanic to keep you moving from instrument to instrument. You can't really linger at all on an instrument after you've completed a portion, you really have to keep moving to the band member that is in danger of not being happy, lol.

LEGO tunes

I've never been able to get into the music peripheral games, and this might be one of the few LEGO games I'm just not interested in. Glad to hear it's working its magic on you though.

I agree....

In a way. I've enjoyed a music game or two, but in general it's not something I spend time on. I don't have much affection for LEGO games, so there's really not much here to entice me.

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