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The basic concept behind Rock Band Blitz dates back to a previous Harmonix franchise, consisting of their first music/rhythm games, Frequency and Amplitude. In Blitz you move forward on an upward note highway, and you play the incoming notes by swapping between five lanes with each lane corresponding to a certain instrument in the song (Guitar, Bass, Piano, etc.). This alone is a brilliant concept and is executed seamlessly with tight controls. You can swap between many different control options but I found the easiest to be using the triggers to swap lanes and the analog sticks to hit notes.
From just the tutorial, there’s a very likable presentation that begins to emerge as an awfully incredible parody of a song plays and Harmonix begins to slowly roll you into the features that lay within Rock Band Blitz. They quickly establish that this game is about one thing and that isn’t hitting all the notes, it’s the score you attain from playing the song.. From the multipliers that get higher by hitting notes then passing through checkpoints to the visually daunting Blitz mode that speeds up notes and time, but also gives you bonus points for however long you can keep it going, your desire to inch that score up one notch never ceases and is only encouraged by the insertion of your rivals (typically just your friend) score on the right side of your screen, pushing you to beat their score.
The twist throughout all of this is the implementation of multiple upgrade systems that you can take with you into a song. For example, there’s an upgrade that allows your “bandmate” to take over one certain instruments notes for a limited time, giving you time to swap to another lane and perform the other notes. The upgrades get crazier from there and eventually evolve into madness such as shooting a pinball out into the playing field and then having to keep it going by moving left to right to knock the ball back up, with it collecting bonus points on every note it hits. You unlock these abilities through earning Blitz Cred, which is basically a growing score that gets bigger after every successful performance on a song. The abilities are plentiful and will keep you hammering through songs for hours on end, just to see what the next crazy thing to unlock is. Although we all know you’re going to just keep going back to that pinball. Why would you not?
Something Rock Band Blitz does not do too differently however is the visuals. The scrolling note highway and bright color coded notes concept has become a staple of the music/rhythm genre and continues to be in this game. In an odd decision, your background is always taking place on a road, with traffic occasionally seeming like it’s going to hit you. It’s minor due to the fact that most of your attention is on the notes but these small touches really brighten the experience and make the game that much more appealing, even though overall, there’s not much change away from your normal Rock Band visuals.
One major issue that becomes very apparent from your desire to break open all the available abilities is the disappointing setlist that contains only 25 songs. It’s not exactly the quality as much as the quantity though as it features your standard pop hits (Fun, Pink, Foster the People) all the way through your favorite oldies (Jungle Boogie, anyone?). The fact of the matter is that 25 songs fly by very quickly and only shows that Harmonix is counting on you to either own previous Rock Band’s and have their music library or own DLC to fully enjoy the Rock Band Blitz experience. That may sound a bit crappy but with such a humungous variety of DLC available, you’re guaranteed to find something you want to download for yourself.
Apart from that, issues become very minimal as the only other one I ran into was occasionally there wouldn’t be enough notes in between checkpoints to level up my multiplier. But even that is meaningless in the grand scheme of things as it becomes near impossible to not enjoy the hyper stylized insanity that is Rock Band Blitz. If there’s one thing I would’ve bet against in 2012 it would be that Harmonix would release another Rock Band that is not only immaculately designed but also fun and innovative. I would’ve lost that bet as Rock Band Blitz is one hell of an experience that revitalized what seemed to be a dead genre. In the end though, it’s time to send the Rock Band brand off and Rock Band Blitz is the absolute perfect installment to do just that.
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