Let’s face it. Rock Band has given you a whole band’s worth of equipment and sometimes it can be a bit of a punk to pull things out of the closet and set things up again. Rock Band Blitz, Harmonix’s newest iteration of the Rock Band series, does away with the instruments and brings the music rhythm genre back to the standard controller. Where Rock Band exceeds in a party environment, Rock Band Blitz acts as the after-party supplement for those who want some nice alone time with their music.
Rock Band Blitz takes a lot of cues from Harmonix’s previous works: Frequency, Amplitude, and Rock Band Unplugged in particular. Each track features instrument lanes where you must play out their segments in order to gain score. The instrument notes are reduced down to a simple left and right note, but you must switch between lanes in order to get the high scores.
As you play through the song and clearing out notes in a lane, you will increase the score multiplier for that specific lane. In the process of switching between lanes and increasing the score multiplayer, there are checkpoints throughout the song that will check your multiplier progress. Keep your multiplier capped off in every lane and you’ll increase the multiplier cap. Leave lanes alone and you’ll find yourself stuck at your current cap.
On top of accurately tapping buttons and clearing notes, you have access to various power-ups. At first, you will need to unlock them by gaining Blitz Cred and this is gained by simply playing more music. Once unlocked, using them for a song attempt will require the use of coins which are earned from various different methods. The most common one is simply doing well in a song, as each star rating rewards you more coins.
The power-ups range from self-activated types to power-ups that give a passive bonus. Making use of each power-up and finding the right combos for specific songs and play style will be the key to achieving that sought after high score. While the initial launch caused a bit of an issue in how the economy played out for the coins, the game has been updated so that as long as you do exceptionally well, you will not be strapped for coins by constantly using power-ups.
Rock Band Blitz makes use of asynchronous multiplayer that ties you and your friends into a social network for competition and goal achieving. You can challenge any of your friends (or even strangers!) to Score Wars to vie for a handful of coins. While Rock Band Blitz does not have simultaneous multiplayer of any form, Score War acts as a fine substitute as you can take on challenges or give challenges at any time within a week’s time. You will also be able to take up goal and achievement based challenges to get more coins as well which will require you to go through your song list and play songs of a specific genre or other types of categorization.. This does require a Facebook account, something that some avoid like the plague. However in linking your Facebook account, it does unlock the potential of your song list as it a goal-oriented function that brings forth tracks that you may have otherwise skipped on. Not using it will greatly lower your ability to gain an influx of coins, and is even crucial to the Rock Band Blitz experience.
What Rock Band Blitz boils down to is a huge score attack in order to become the best on the leaderboards. The online implementation is one of the best examples of how asynchronous multiplayer can work, by bringing what was made prevalent in mobile platforms and throwing it as a basis for Rock Band Blitz. Not embracing these social interactions can easily remove a lot of the replay value that makes Rock Band Blitz so addicting.
The barrier of entry, though much easier to approach over using instruments, will rely heavily on your existing Rock Band library. While you are given 25 songs to go along with your purchase of Rock Band Blitz (which all work in Rock Band 3 out of the box), you’ll quickly blow through these tracks. Thankfully, any purchased Rock Band DLC, track packs, and most of the exported songs from other Rock Band games can be used in Rock Band Blitz. However, Rock Band 3 tracks (at the time of this review) cannot be imported into Rock Band Blitz. Though, you have over 2000 songs to purchase from the Rock Band Store, and yes, you can grab that damn Rick Roll song if you wanted to.
At this point, Rock Band could not possibly expand so much more than just releasing song pack after song pack. Rock Band Blitz allows the series to go sideways to help grab more players that may not be fond of carrying all that equipment around or just lack the dexterity or “talent” to use some of those instruments. Rock Band Blitz acts as the perfect catalyst to grab these types of players. Though the experience may be hindered by those who may not have any friends online, certainly their love for music and the appreciation of having a real controller in their hands will still win some fans.