LEGO Rock Band. Now thereâ€™s a strange mix. That is, until you think about it â€“ the goodness of music game Rock Band, mixed with the comedic fun of the LEGO franchise.
Aimed primarily at the younger audience, LEGO Rock Band has the same premise at the original Rock Band titles; you can play along to your favourite tunes on the pile of plastic instruments you have stacked in the corner of your lounge. Only this time, instead of pretending to be an all out rocker in a hardcore rock band, youâ€™re stepping into the world of LEGO â€“ and like building your first LEGO castle or vehicle, or in my case, space station â€“ youâ€™re there to have fun.
Itâ€™s lucky, then, that Travellerâ€™s Tales - the developer behind previous LEGO games - and Harmonix have worked together to create a faithful title that contributes to the Rock Band franchise, and pulls in our favourite parts of the LEGO world.
At its core, aside from the actual songs included in the game (more on them later) the main feature in the game is the Story mode. Much like the other Rock Band games, you start off by creating your band, and then slowly take over the world by expanding the venues you can play and unlock songs as you go. Where LEGO Rock Band differs though, is the inclusion of what Iâ€™ve affectionately dubbed â€˜the fun partsâ€™. Known in the game as Rock Power Challenges, these are extra morsels of goodness thrown in to add some extra variety. Usually accompanied by a somewhat humourous video, they range from destroying a high-rise building by rocking out, to taking out giant octopus. And while it sounds a little tacky, theyâ€™re actually a fair bit of fun.
Combine these Rock Power Challenges with the ability to record albums from your favourite songs, the various special guest bands that you get to play along with (Queen and David Bowie are notable inclusions) and the Story mode can actually be entertaining as the same mode in the original Rock Band titles. The cutscenes within the story mode take advantage of the fact that your band and roadies are all minifigs, and the LEGO surroundings play a large part in that entertainment.
A couple of new additions have been added to help keep the younger crowed hooked; short versions of songs and super easy modes. Short versions is exactly how it sounds, with the songs stopping roughly halfway through. The super easy modes remove the ability to actually fail the song, and step the difficulty down to about as far as it can go before youâ€™re not actually playing anything.
Money has been swapped out for LEGO studs, used for purchasing new crew in your office, buying new instruments and changing the appearance of any of the characters in your band.
And perhaps I missed some instructions, but it wasnâ€™t until halfway through the story mode that I realised all the items I was collecting could actually be used to decorate the Rock Den by pressing the yellow guitar button. Once that was established, the Rock Den for our band â€˜Embersâ€™ (awesome, I know) was covered in various warning signs, speaker sets, and other LEGO created goodies.
The music store where you can purchase other Rock Band songs â€“ as long as theyâ€™re family friendly â€“ is a handy addition to quickly build on the 45 songs included on the disc. Unfortunately, every time we tried to access the store we had a limited level of success. It quite commonly threw us out to the main screen. Hopefully this isnâ€™t a regular occurrence for LEGO Rock Band in the coming weeks.
What may ultimately decide whether you enjoy the game or not though, is the selection of songs available. While it does cater more towards the younger audience, it still has a decent line-up. Power ballads such as â€˜Summer of â€˜69â€™ and â€˜You Give Love a Bad Nameâ€™ are complemented by music from artists including Iggy Pop, The Police and Incubus.
If youâ€™re not a fan of the cutesy LEGO minifigs or general theme (in which case, youâ€™re a horrible person) you can always export the songs (by paying a $10 nominal fee and jumping through a few hoops) for use in your more conventional Rock Band titles, and then cast aside the LEGO Rock Band disc. However, it must be said that LEGO Rock Band is genuinely fun. The game isnâ€™t designed to be a videogame masterpiece, but it succeeds in doing what it attempted to â€“ entertain.