As a long-standing fan of music-peripheral games, I was sceptical of Lego Rock Band. Sure, Lego Star Wars, Lego Indy; plausible enough. But how do you take a music game, and er... Lego-fy it?
So I was pleasantly surprised when I booted up Lego Rock Band and found that, while sharing the same base game mechanics, it includes an immersive and often humorous campaign mode that is even more enjoyable than the original in some ways.
Like Rock Band, you start by creating your band and musician. This is followed by an American Idol parody audition where you gain the rest of your band and eventually end up at the Rock Den, the hub of all your band’s adventures.
From the Rock Den you can check out different rooms like the Office (for hiring new entourage members who will boost your income or fan base), or the Rock Shop for buying new Clothes (body parts) and instruments. Unfortunately, these were areas that could have been expanded to include more options, and felt a bit limited after a while.
However, most of your time will be spent On Tour. The first stop is the Garage, where you store a variety of fantastic Lego vehicles that you will unlock as the game progresses. Each vehicle allows you to travel to two new locations, ranging from an urban construction site to pirate ships and even the depths of the ocean.
The locations themselves are very well created, and each is in the style of a traditional Lego play set. So for those who grew up with Lego, you are bound to see some well-loved characters returning in the background.
The gameplay mechanics are solid, and pretty much identical to Rock Band. However, the addition of a new ‘Super Easy’ mode, and changes so that failing results in the loss of studs (money) rather than Rock Band’s tendency to kick you offstage, make the game accessible to the youngest (or most untalented) players. At the difficulty selection screen there is also an optional ‘Short Mode’ where songs are limited to only a couple of minutes for those short on time or attention span.
Throughout the game, various bonus stages will unlock where players have to use ‘The Power of Rock’ for the greater good. Some of these, like demolishing a building or fighting off a giant octopus, are great ideas. Others, like making it rain for a drought-stricken farm, come across as a bit odd. A few special gigs even have you playing as famous bands in Lego form, with notable inclusions Queen and David Bowie.
The core appeal of any music game is in its song selection, and this is one area where Lego Rock Band both shines and falls a little short. The tracks span the 70s through to the 90s, with a good selection from Queen, the Police, David Bowie, Tom Petty, Bryan Adams, and even Elton John. This has then been matched with a more modern line-up from artists including The Hives, Korn, Pink, Kaiser Chiefs, Good Charlotte and the Counting Crows.
The songs are deliberately picked to appeal to both kids and adults, and even those not recognisable by name, I often found I knew by tune.
The downside is that there are only 45 songs on the track list. However, the title is compatible with any G-rated content from either the Rock Band store, or any Rock Band 1 content that has been exported to your hard drive.
On the subject of exporting, all of the tracks in Lego Rock Band can also be exported to your hard drive to play in either Rock Band or Rock Band 2, but it can be a long-winded process and costs 800 MS Points.
In short, Lego Rock Band is a great title for those who love both music games and Lego, and its combination of cuteness and humour had us playing and laughing for hours.