Still fab after forty years

When “Beatlemania” spread across the world in the 1960s, it’s safe to say John, Paul, George and Ringo would have never pegged an Xbox or Playstation as a future venue.
But now the Fab Four can add this generation’s video game consoles to their resumes with the release of “The Beatles: Rock Band” on Wednesday.

The “Rock Band” series, with two full titles already released, allows players to match color-coded notes with corresponding buttons on a guitar or drum style controller in rhythm to recreate hit songs. The game also allows a vocalist to match pitch while singing on-screen lyrics. The players are then scored on their accuracy.

In this version, “The Beatles: Rock Band” presents 45 tracks from the group’s extensive catalogue, played on the screen by a computerized version of the band. The story mode allows players to travel along the group’s career path, from Liverpool’s Cavern Club to The Ed Sullivan Show, Shea Stadium and even the iconic rooftop of Apple Corp.’s London headquarters.

The game won’t challenge the true “Rock Band” or “Guitar Hero” experts, as only songs such as “Helter Skelter” prove lighting fast and finger-numbing for guitar. Instead, “The Beatles: Rock Band” seems to be made for true fanatics of the group with the incentive of unlockable photos and exclusive audio segments after mastering songs.

Tracks offered also range from well-known hits like the classic “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “Get Back” to hidden gems, like “Dig A Pony” off of the album “Let it Be”.

However, players are more than likely familiar with the majority of The Beatles’ catalogue if they are willing to drop $249.99 on the premium bundle. Therefore, the game lends well for Beatle fans to try playing the guitar or drums while singing simultaneously.

Adding to this idea is the development of separate harmony vocals, as the game separates the different vocal tones and parts of the four band members. This is a first for the “Rock Band” game series. With the release of replica controller instruments used by The Beatles, players can authentically act as their favorite member of the group.

However, the most impressive feature is the addition of “dreamscape” scenes as a backdrop for the songs that coincide with The Beatles’ psychedelic work following their retirement from touring. “Here Comes The Sun” places the on-screen band on a bright, flowery hill, while “Octopus’s Garden” finds the Fab Four playing in a deep teal blue sea.

Between these visuals, the challenge of singing while playing an instrument and a catalogue that will expand through downloadable content, “The Beatles: Rock Band” seems to be a sure winner for all who adore the lads from Liverpool nearly 40 years after they broke up.

Consider this video game their unofficial reunion.

Brian Wisowaty can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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