Rock Band 3 Pro Guitar (cause for concern?)

I’m about as huge a fan of Rock Band as you’ll ever find; I said before that this game was why I got a PS3. (Well, that and Time Crisis 4, but I don’t wanna talk about that…) So you can imagine how thrilled I was about a month ago when I lucked out and found a copy of Rock Band 3 that Gamestop was doing a $10 off promo that day.

I’d heard about there being new controllers, of course, but I wasn’t concerned. My Beatles guitar was working like a dream, the old RB2 drum kit was perfectly adequate, and to be honest, just the idea of keyboarding brought up nothing but bitter memories. (I also happen to utterly loathe singing, and IMNSHO Neversoft making it required to unlock a lot of things in Rock Band 5 and Band Hero is the worst thing they did by roughly 25,000 parsecs, so don’t ever get me started, thank you. Gah. I’d rather run the Honolulu Marathon in ski boots than sing Wannabe again.)

So anyway, I saw something called “Pro Guitar” (and Pro Bass, naturally), for which my Beatles guitar was somehow ineligible. I quickly learned that this, indeed, required a very special controller…one with six strings on the body and whole bunch of string-shaped buttons on the neck. Each of those buttons corresponds to a location an actual fret a guitarist would press down on, and the strings work exactly as they would on an actual guitar. (I understand that there will be an even more realistic-looking controller in the near future.)

Let’s get one thing clear: Nobody actually wanted this. All that talk about “Learn a real instrument!” was just that, talk. Bravado. Bluster. Trash. The same numbnuts who bleat “I can do that!” after seeing some speed run they couldn’t pull off in 20 years. Nobody had any illusions that Rock Band was about anything other than pretty music and having a blast with friends.

Bear with me for a bit. Here. Don’t worry about the language barrier, just click around a bit. If you own a Wii, you may have seen something called this, and while the mechanics may be totally different, the concept is the same. That being that you’re supposed to tap the buttons corresponding to the objects (“popkuns”, they’re called) as they hit the line.

“Wait a minute,” you may be asking. “What is this? What’s this supposed to simulate?” Nothing. It’s a game where you push buttons to make pretty sounds. It’s a great big colorful pile of mindless fun which will not prepare you for anything.

It’s one of the most popular video game franchises in the history of Japan. Tune Street is the nineteenth installment.

Now think about how Rock Band was marketed from day one. Those instruments? The guitar looked like a child’s toy. The drum set consisted of a pedal and four vaguely drumhead-like pads (not even a cymbal!). And vocals, heck, you don’t even need words. None of these instruments bore the slighest resemblance to the real thing. Therefore, that never became an issue. If anything, it brought players into the game who would’ve been frightened by the prospect of having to learn an instrument. And the music? Well, don’t read too much into the title; all that means is that the songs use guitar, bass, drums, and vocals (or reasonable facsimilies thereof). Just because you’re a Rock Band doesn’t mean that you can’t play anything else. Thus freed of that albatross, Harmonix was not only able to get a tremendous variety of music, but far more artists willing to sign on. Rock Band Network could never have taken off if there were any hangups about nu-metal or emo or country.

Contrast that to Guitar Hero, a game that’s virtually identical in every way (and it was first!). From day one, RedOctane flogged the gritty, rancid, disgusting, property-damaging rock star lifestyle. Expectations were set. Lines were drawn. Flags were raised. As a result the game that almost singlehandedly made music games viable in America and has undergone phenomenal improvements and innovations gets…nothing but criticism. Seems like everyone hates this. Oh, I don’t like that artist. Oh, I don’t wanna do guitar battle. Oh, this song isn’t loud/bitter/angry enough. Oh, I don’t like how that remix sounds. Especially ridiculous is the contention that there are too many games, something which will have even a moderately serious Bemani aficionado howling with laughter. (The culmination of this, of course, was the decision to expand their base with the pop spinoff Band Hero, meaning that they had to find artists even more fluffy-bunny vanilla than Kiss, Queen, Bon Jovi, Scorpions, The Police, Boston, Pat Benatar, Michael Jackson, and Willie Nelson, to name a few.)

Before Pro Guitar, I found NO criticism of Rock Band. Anywhere. Ever. Even legitimate problems (like the outrageously flimsiness of the standard Stratocasters) were glossed over. Now do a search for “Rock Band Pro Guitar” and watch a few videos. Note how much of a firestorm there is now, and it’s all about whether this can prepare you for a real guitar, how much this is/isn’t like real guitar, how nothing compares to a real guitar, this is easier than a real guitar, harder than a real guitar, etc. etc. The “Learn a real instrument!” crap hasn’t gone away, it’s EXPLODED. On top of that, a lot of players who do play the real thing are giving this a whirl for the first time, and for the most part it’s been an unpleasant education. (There’s no way scrolling notes on a highway can substitute for an actual chart.) Oh, as you may have deduced from the videos, it’s really freakin’ hard. When you see someone who plays rhythm guitar for a living get stomped into the ground by a routine solo, you know you’re in for a world of hurt.

It won’t teach guitar skills. It won’t inspire anyone to learn guitar. It’s not the next big thing in videogaming, not the next step up, not the future. It won’t make us realize how incredibly unsatisfying our current instruments are. It’s stirring up anger and divisiveness and crap where none should have existed. I just don’t see any upside to this whatsoever. Anyone?

(P.S. Yes, I’m aware of Pro Drums, Pro Keyboard, and Harmonies. Harmonies is a lot of fun for the right kind of players, Pro Drums has the same pads, just more of them, and keyboarding is a colossal pain regardless of how many keys are involved.)

How about that it’s completely optional, and the game still functions 100% as normal if you don’t use it? I find it hard to understand complaints about a new feature that doesn’t in any way replace an old feature.

I do have complaints about Rock Band 3, but none of them are pro guitar related. I don’t even have the pro guitar. It doesn’t hurt me.

Meh. Rock Band 2 inspired me to pick up a real guitar. Rock Band 3 is a heck of a great practice tool for speed and accuracy. Sorry you don’t like it.
Guitarfreaks is designed for a different audience than Rock Band. It’s like every song was Through The Fire and Flames. Rock Band is about having fun with people.

Nobody actually wanted Pro? Well, I’m nobody, I guess. And so are a number of other people. But if it doesn’t appeal to you, then it doesn’t. I’ve got no interest in drumming, myself. Seriously, what is this, sour grapes?
Also, what, keyboarding is hard?

Wait. ‘And Guitar Hero was first’? Do… oh, god. Do you even understand why Rock Band is the successor to the first two Guitar Heroes? And…

You’re calling Guitar Hero the innovator?

Oh, god. I’m sorry, but something is just very wrong here. You’re talking Glen Beck style crazy.

You know what? Forget it. Look. You like Bemani games. Enjoy them. Why are you all concerned about something you’re not even going to touch? Life’s too short to stress about something you’re not involved with.

What the others said. Guitar Hero was only “first” in that Harmonix created the game, and then were bought out by MTV Games and went on to make Rock Band. The company you’re complaining about actually started the whole thing here.

Plenty of people have been excited about the pro-style controllers; in fact the talk of those revitalized a slump in interest in music games.

And of course - if you don’t like them, don’t buy them. They’re completely optional.

I haven’t seen any angry messages on the topic, especially around here, until your OP. You sound honestly worked up over a game controller’s mere existence.

The entire Rock Band/Guitar Hero rhythm game genre isn’t for me one bit. With that being said, I don’t get the big problem. You don’t have to use the new guitar or whatever it is you’re worked up about.

Really, it seems like you’re worked up about the “Learn to play a real guitar” people, and they’re inconsequential, so long as you’re not interested in learning a real guitar.

I just want to say the Pro Drums are freakin’ awesome! After you finish a song on expert, you really feel like you did something.

I have had no interest in the other guitar hero/rock band games other then playing them at a buddy’s house while drunk but the new controller have me excited enough that I’ll probably buy the game next winter when I have the time to devote to the game. So there is at least one person they’ve lured in who would never have given them money otherwise.

If nobody wanted them, then no-one will buy them and they won’t make anymore. Then you won’t have anything to worry about.

If people did want them (or find out they like them, after all) then they will sell lots and you will just have to stick with non-pro (surely you don’t think they will get rid of that when most people can’t even manage regular expert right?)

As for me, if I owned a PS3 I’d probably buy the pro drums but I don’t and I’m not going to buy one just for one game (come on guys, rock band for PC, the PS3 drums already work fine straight out the box if you plug them in the computer).

I got the pro drums (the Ion Rocker, actually) for RB3, but I’m a bit annoyed that they apparently don’t work with the 5 lane Guitar Hero track - the track revers to 4 lane, just as if you had the non-pro RB drum set.

Whoever decided that the open hi-hat should be on the BLUE cymbals and the closed hi-hat should be on the YELLOW cymbals should be shot.
Also, I want less hardcore and angsty songs on Rock Band. Could I have more Pop/Rock, please?

Sample size of one, but, after playing Guitar Hero and Rock Band for a year, I took up the electric guitar, and have been playing for two years. I doubt that I would have ever become interested enough in playing the guitar “for real” if not for Guitar Hero.

Just because RB isn’t a “gateway drug” to playing a real musical instrument to you, doesn’t mean that it isn’t for anyone.

Okay, disclaimer (I thought this was clear enough, but points do tend to get lost in my big OPs): This isn’t a protest. I’m about as hardcore as James Taylor. And believe me, I don’t limit myself. I’ve been a Guitar Hero player at least since Arcade (that one was what actually got me into it, in fact), and since then I’ve gotten 'em all. And, even though RedOctane seemed hellbent on convincing me otherwise (“If the police complain about the noise, turn the volume up until they go away! Oh, and drummers are retarted space monkeys!”), it’s been an amazing ride.

When I first saw Rock Band, I knew…I could just see it, before I heard a single song…that it was casting a much wider net. No slavish devotion to blisteringly angry pounding and shredding and shouting, pretend or otherwise. No forbidden genres. No minimum difficulty requirements. It was a game the whole family could get into (literally, in my case; this is one of the few games my sister actually paid money for).

Think about Dance Dance Revolution (c’mon, you knew I was getting to this sooner or later :slight_smile: ). Looking at it, can you see anything that puts it head and shoulders above any other dancing game? Hell, In The Groove, the complete ripoff, is by pretty much any measure a superior product. But you see, Konami had a simple plan. Use lots of different kinds of music. Mix up the stepcharts as well. Introduce party modes to bring everyone in the game. Raise the bar as players get better, but not at the expense of the easier difficulties (this was Andamiro’s biggest mistake). And, most importantly, NEVER address the issue of whether this was real dancing, or how to make it like real dancing, or how to dance for real on it without failing the song, etc. etc. Anyone asks, say it’s classified information and change the subject.

From a quirky Japanese toy with clunky graphics to a worldwide phenomenon. No other dancing game is even close.

Up to Green Day (10 games in all, 11 for Wii), this was exactly the situation Rock Band was in. No talk about realism, or inappropriate songs, or anything being too easy. There were miscues (whoever put Visions in 2 should be slapped), but very few and far between. The community was harmonious; you don’t fight when there’s nothing to fight about.

Then Pro Guitar was introduced, with three immediate, drastic consequences:

  1. All the arguments about realism, accuracy, whether it can teach you, which were at most mild jokes in the past, get thrust to the forefront and loom huge. Already there’s a firestorm brewing over which Pro Guitar controller is better/more realistic/easier to hit notes with. And just wait until the real hardcore players…y’know, the kind that write FAQs…start really analyizng the notecharts.

  2. It draws a sharp dividing line. Now there are players who use the Pro instruments and players who don’t. Anyone who’s optimistic that this will shake down amicably has never spent time online.

  3. Because it’s so inherently difficult, this brings in the serious, bigtime harcore players. These folks tend to be rather…particular. Not to mention change the direction of a game in a very big and usually unpleasant way. Dead or Alive 4 was majorly ramped up to appeal to the hardcore fanbase and became just about flat-out unplayable. And I don’t really need to mention Andamiro again, do I?

Now, I’m not denying that there’s a place for highly challenging gameplay. There are fans of Gran Turismo, which I found to be utter torture pretty much every second, Katamari Damacy has a plethora of adherents, and Madden has been the king of football since forever. There is a place for realistic instruments in a music game. But did it have to be Rock Band? How easy would it have been for Harmonix to create a spinoff game that was for that audience from day one? If quantity of charts was a concern, they could’ve released an early demo after RB3 to generate buzz, then come out with a full game a few months later. Or soft-launch the partially completed game online to test the waters before the completed product.

It’s early. Maybe the two sides will make peace and no harm will be done. I desperately HOPE that’s what happens. I love this game. It’s still one of the best things for the PS3. I don’t want to see it get dragged into the gutter.

Gotta catch my breath…individual responses later.

Because a spinoff game that was just for the hardcore would sell about a thousand copies.

I remember arguments about how much playing rock band helped (or didn’t) you learn real instruments etc etc since the first game was released - hell, probably since guitar hero was released (but I never played that). It did seem to focus more on drums then guitar, but it was there for everything. You say it was just joking but I’m not sure I agree.

As for the rest, Regular mode is not ever going away - if anything it’s becoming more accessible, what with the no-fail mode and such they’ve added.

The online community argues? who cares, most gaming communities argue. Don’t read forums if it bothers you.

It brings the bigtime hardcore players? What, and you don’t think things like expert “Green Grass and High Tides” on guitar or expert “Run to the Hills” on drums in the first game were not for bigtime hardcore players?

I think RB was headed towards real instruments from day one. What’s not to like? You can learn a real instrument while playing a game. Pro Drums using an ION kit with 3 cymbals is a blast. The ION drums really make the RB drums look like a toy. RB3 maps the 3 cymbals as separate items, so Pro Drums works with all songs back to RB1 AFAIK. The only thing really missing is a hi-hat pedal.

There is a real Fender 6-string guitar coming out this spring that has special sensors on the neck that allow it to be a MIDI device and work with RB3. Maybe it’s not going to be the best way to learn guitar, but it should be fun. The downsides are price (~$250) and the fact it’s going to be sold at Best Buy.

Pro Keyboards is pretty awesome too. My gf has a Casio MIDI keyboard hooked up to RB3 and is going through the tutorials and playing Pro Keys on easy difficulty, so far. RB3 has a great selection of keyboard songs like “Lighter Shade of Pale” and “Just Like Heaven.”

I don’t think that “some people might argue on the internet” should be a concern for a company when they release or upgrade a product.

I agree that the correct response to concerns 1, 2, and 3 is “meh”.

I bought a PS3 because of the new guitar controllers. I have a Wii, but with the new instruments, I decided to jump ship, so that I could import songs onto a hard drive, and not have to mess with SD cards, and get higher resolution as well. From that perspective, the industry sucked many more dollars from my wallet than they would have without the new controller.

It’s not like they’re moving to make the game harder, and pushing aside less capable players, which I think would create a divide. They also have no-fail mode, so they’re expanding the range of capability they support, who can all play the same game at the same time. How is that not a good thing?

Further, the new controller is hard, in a different way than expert mode on a difficult song is. Even just using the pro guitar as a normal controller is a lot different. The frets are spaced like a real guitar, and you have strings to pick (although I found you can “cheat” and just tap them when the notes are coming too fast). Even if I never get good enough to play pro guitar on easy, I still have that. And I’m more likely to keep working at the pro mode at least once in a while, since I actually play the game. It’s not just gathering dust on the shelf.

Can you tell me more about this? Is there synthesizer software that works to make playing the RB3 drums like playing real drums? My son likes playing the drums, and he’d probably really like it if I could set him up with this and maybe a pair of headphones. Are the drums and cymbals sensitive to how hard you hit them? We have the four drum, 3 cymbal “pro drums” set.

All right, going down the list…

E-Sabbath - The innovator is Konami, which came up with the concept long before any American outfit (Guitar Freaks…still going, BTW). Anyway, it doesn’t matter; an adaptation or even an outright ripoff (hello, In The Groove!) can still be a fun game. And Activision (Neversoft, RedOctane…dunno offhand which has whose hands in what) does try new things, from simplifying HOPOs to making instrument specific rewards to the whole quest mode and character-specific advantages in Warriors of Rock. Yeah, it’s all tweaks to the game engine, but this is supposed to be a game, right?

And I was (of course) exaggerating when I said that nobody wanted this, but I certainly don’t remember any major buzz or demand for more difficult instruments. I mean, you’d think that we would’ve had testinomials from professionals who tried them out, or a holiday marketing blitz, or at least some Gamestop promos. (How freakin’ long did they plug that Assassins’ Creed Brotherhood Harlequin?)

As for keyboarding…try it sometime. (There’s a reason kids have to be forced to play piano, y’know.)

badlyburnttoast - See, you’re talking two (five?) notecharts on RB1. (For the record, I have no problem with GGAHT on Medium, and if I can hack it, you know it can’t be that painful.) A bit different from the sea change that Pro Guitar is.

And it’s not the forum yahoos I’m concerned about (most of whom I suspect haven’t played a music game in their lives) but what happens when any highly challenging element is introduced. I already mentioned Pump It Up (that “Andamiro” thing) and Dead or Alive, so here’s another one: Fight Night. Before, it used buttons to throw punches. This was simple and workable. People liked it. Then, EA decided that the game needed to be more realisitc. What the heck, it was time, rigth? Thus, “Total Punch Control”, which used the right analog stick to throw punches. Not so popular, but it was strictly optional. Then came “haymakers”, punches which required the stick to throw. And now Round 4, where ALL the punches require Total Punch Control.

I’ve tried Total Punch Control. It’s a clunky, sloppy, aggravating mess. Yes, it’s “realistic” and forces players to do certain things. If you read most of the testimonials, the “certain things” are lots of really simple jabs and crosses you can do without screwing up.

One shift in attitude. One change in the control scheme. It ruined a flagship EA line.

Like I said, it’s early. Harmonix can avoid the abyss. I’m pretty sure they will. I’m hoping.

control-z - But that’s just it. What if you don’t have any interest in learning a new instrument? (See also: Dance Dance Revolution, dancing.) Ever? And again, even if there is a place for these instruments (and there is), how hard would it have been to make a spinoff? History has taught us that tremendously challenging games can succeed. Tekken has been white-hot since forever, and Gran Turismo 5 is doing just fine.
Oh, before I forget… obligatory YouTube links. I haven’t been able to find too many gameplay videos. If any of you have any, I’d be very grateful. I just need to see people really enjoying this and I’ll shut up about it, promise.

Meh. Does it upset you that there are steering wheel and pedal controllers available for driving games?