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The history of gaming has been filled with some truly great rivalries. Sonic vs. Mario, Madden vs. NFL2K, and Halo vs. Call of Duty are all great examples of what I mean. We are currently in the midst of another great rivalry, one that is being played out on Nintendo Wii systems all over the world. Guitar Hero and Rock Band are constantly vying for the title of world's greatest music game, and both sides have fired some impressive salvos so far.
We've already covered the Guitar Hero side of things, so now let's take a look at the great games in the Rock Band series for the Nintendo Wii.
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Of course we can't talk about the Rock Band series without mentioning the game that started it all, the original Rock Band. Before this game was released, gamers were forced to expend their music game energies on just a single instrument, the guitar. Sure, it doubled as a bass, but there really was no way to duplicate the band experience, much less rock out with more than one friend.
Rock Band came along and changed all that. For the first time gamers were able to get a group of four friends together and truly begin to feel like an actual band.
Another great innovation of the original Rock Band was the constant stream of excellent downloadable content that Harmonix offered. Gamers were no longer stuck with just the songs on the disk, they could now customize their soundtrack by choosing from a huge library of songs available for a small fee. The Wii version of the game was not as quick to adopt this feature as the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions, but there is now a functioning DLC setup for the game on all three systems.
Subsequent Guitar Hero games incorporated this feature, but it was Rock Band that first introduced it.
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Rock Band 2
The sequel to Rock Band took everything that was great about the original and multiplied it by 10. The designers at Harmonix heard the few complaints about the original and took them to heart, addressing almost all of the major concerns for the sequel, adding the ability to play the game's "World Tour" mode online with friends, incorporating a fully-integrated in-game music store, and eliminating the need for certain band members to be present in order to advance the game.
Rock Band 2 also added weekly challenges to the mix, allowing players to show off their skills against the whole of the Rock Band community. The continued focus on excellent DLC has made Rock Band 2 the genre's definitive title.
Check out page two for more on The Beatles: Rock Band and the series' newest game: Lego Rock Band.
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The Beatles: Rock Band
Beatles: Rock Band is more than just a Rock Band game featuring music by the world's most popular and influential pop music act. That alone would have been enough to guarantee that the title become a success, but the Rock Band team wasn't content to simply deliver a typical game dressed in Beatles clothing.
The team delved deep into the Apple Corps library, delivering never-before seen material about the band and incorporating many of the Beatles' iconic performances into the overall aesthetic of the game. The special edition of the game also shipped with special Beatles-inspired versions of each instrument.
Critics revered the game not only as an excellent music game experience, but also as a legitimate way to delve into the history of the Beatles themselves.
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Rock Band: Lego
Gamers looking for a more family-friendly iteration of the music game genre can now find the perfect title in the most recent game in the Rock Band series, Rock Band: Lego. The game has been designed from the ground up to appeal to all members of the family, from the toned-down soundtrack to the Lego-inspired presentation. Scrolling notes have been transformed into Lego blocks and the in-game avatars have been replaced with Lego figures.
The game's 45-song soundtrack is a bit small by genre standards, but has been generally well-received.
Players of either Rock Band or Rock Band 2 can actually import songs from Rock Band: Lego into their game for a small fee, further extending either game's massive catalog.
In the war of music games, we have yet to see a clear victor emerge. Both the Rock Band and Guitar Hero series continue to innovate in the face of their competition, and both are continually borrowing improvements from one another in order to produce the best possible games. In this war of the musical juggernauts, the true winners are the gamers who get to play excellent release after excellent release as a result of the competition between the Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises.