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December 26, 2014

Rock Band 3 DS (Part 3)

Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here!

Hello again! Welcome back to the year-end concert on Planned All Along! We've got plenty of famous bands – even some that have ended years ago – to play for you today! Oh, and there's a review of Rock Band 3 DS in the mix. With a lengthy explanation of the story in the game. Where were we at, exactly? Oh, right! Hardcover, our fictional band, had completed three tours around Canada and the U.S. aboard their bus, and now they were ready to go International! They're gonna get free from the vines restraining them to the American continent!

Oh yeah, have I mentioned I was trying to fit the title and band of every song in the paragraphs I write? It's a lot harder than you think! What kind of misery business did I get myself into? I'm doing all this par amour (paramore) of music and reviewing in general... why? Why? Even that last pun was kinda lame!

I guess I'd better just keep discussing the tours. First is a tour around the best party cities around the world! It starts off in Amsterdam (where you'll always find a damn hamster at every pet store), and then you move to Tijuana, where the ambiance is muy caliente long before you even get there. By the might of Ida Maria, OH MY GOD this is gonna be a glorious tour.

Rock with that guitar, green-haired dude!
And then, this tour brings you to Las Vegas, the city of games, a place Yami Yugi is forbidden from ever visiting! The city of sin and games, the place to burn all your hard-earned rock star cash! Doesn't matter, you're gonna make more money with your shows anyway! Doesn't matter if you're playing only one song – a cover – during your show, the fans are gonna love you no matter what! After Las Vegas? Rio, in Brazil! I hope you're not gonna play during the Carnival, because your performance will be drowned under all the hard partying and the parades with the girls wearing those revealing outfits... Still, that tour went so well, the band starts thinking about doing a full tour in Europe.

When you think you're up for a challenge, Europe is the place to go! Say that sentence out loud. And there the band goes, traveling around that continent, visiting famous cities such as Berlin, Paris, Rome, Madrid and Glasgow. If you're a girl and/or you've got girls in your band, it's time to prove that you're a combat baby! And nowhere can it be done better than in places that still use the metric system! Or, well, that's according to my suppositions, anyway.

By the way, I love the game's comments. Funny comments are everywhere. The description on how to get each achievement is funny, and the description that replaces it once you've earned that achievement is funny as well. There's a funny comment before each Tour, and there's another funny comment before each show. Of course, since comedy is subjective, your mileage may vary on how funny each comment is, but in the end the developers at Harmonix really tried to give you a chuckle or two, and they succeeded for me, so I can only be thankful. By the way, most of the jokes come from poking fun at the places the shows take place in, and everyday problems met by rock stars (like getting in trouble with the law).

This could either go extremely well or be a horrible
experience. LET'S TRY IT!
So, it's time for the big World Tour! It starts in New York (where your plays only one song – no, really), and then it moves to Reya... Rajek... Rakvakejig... Rakatakarrakkarettekare... Vakaratkjaekeajkajerkajrjkjkjereakka... Iceland. The second stop of the World Tour is in Iceland. Guess how many songs you play there? Two. The third show in in Dublin, Ireland; the fourth one, in London; the fifth one, in Istanbul, Turkey; the sixth one, in moscow (Let's hope you won't be Russian through your solos, or else you'll fail them); the seventh one, in Tokyo. And the last one in-

...REYKJAVIK! ...I FINALLY MANAGED TO SAY IT! All of my apologies to the people of Reyakyakjakjev... Dammit! All my apologies to my readers who live there. I tend to have some problems with pronunciation with complex names. Hey, at least it's still easier to say than Zasazazasshhh... Zasaaa... Re-dammit! Zasz... Zsasha! Hey, I succeeded for that one too!

OK, so the last show of the entire game is in Sydney, Australia. You better prepare for it. It's time for some crazy training! If you're Ozzy Osbourne's drummer, you don't need it, apparently, but everyone else does.

Forget Phoenix, Arizona! Forget Texas and its masters of the lasso! Forget that little Roxette who keeps giving you the look of a fangirl! You're playing in the major leagues now!

Two in a row? Aaaaand the award of the most forced jokes ever written on a video game review blog goes to... Nicolas Hamel, that pathetic pun-maker! Gotta know how to make fun of yourself sometimes. Self-deprecation, now that must be one of the most useful forms of comedy ever.

Now we'll see if your band is able to stay on the
stage for more than three songs!
So, this is the very last show, and a big one, too! During the final show of all 9 preceding tours, you were playing 3 songs. This time? You play 5. This is kinda like the final boss, because you can't save between the songs and you can't stop playing in the middle of the show. You have to complete all 5 songs, on the difficulty level you've selected. By the way, of those five songs, two are ranked among the hardest ones in the game (in other words, if you picked Intense, you're in trouble), and the last song of the show is Bohemian Rhapsody, to give this game the finale it rightfully deserves. Honor the late Freddy Mercury, play that song like a friggin' BOSS, and then watch the credits roll! We get to see many key moments of the existence of your rock band, like a cheap documentary about your band. Come on, this isn't Spinal Tap!

Holy crap, those credits are longer than the final show. Or maybe they aren't, but dammit, it feels as if. No, scratch that. They ARE longer than the final show. Alright, I can understand, they have to give credit to everything, from the Fender guitars to all the artists who accepted the game used one of their songs.

So, after this final, mega-show, you can complete a few more challenges just to get more fans. And what happens when, once you've beaten all the challenges, you have all the fans you could get? Your band gets tired with fame and simulates a plane crash in the Bahamas to go back to being nobodies.







That's a joke, right? It can't not be a joke. Then again this game makes jokes about everything surrounding celebrities, fame and the rest, so- Oh crap it's for real. It's a joke poking fun at the player. So after climbing up the ranks and becoming famous rock stars, your band's members decide to go back to being unknown because they can't stand fame anymore? They know that April 1st is in about three months, right? You did all this for nothing??? This is one freaking stupid roundabout, don't you agree? And you better say “yes”. I don't think any gamer likes having their time wasted by a Shaggy Dog story in video game form.

(Well, at least I got the final song out of the way.) And this is the real ending of the game. All this work for nothing! I hope you didn't mind the stupidity of the ending. It is but a small reason why I'm not a huge fan of this game. Oh, I enjoy it. It IS fun. But it's not in my Top 10 or anything. I'll never deny its qualities: It's fun, challenging, the story is alright, the writers inserted jokes everywhere they could. It has the qualities of a good Rock Band game: It makes you discover new artists, new songs, it make you play to them, it makes you want to hear more from these artists and bands. I personally downloaded every one of those 25 songs, and while I don't like all of them as much, there are some that quickly grew to become my favorites. That's the strength of music games: You discover new stuff. And yes, maybe you were never much interested in the 25 bands in this game, and maybe the songs sparked an interest. I gotta say, I really wanted to find more of the songs by these bands afterward.

Is it me or that green-haired guitarist
appeared a couple times here today?
Sadly, as I said earlier, 25 is really not enough. You can beat all the songs in a little more than an hour. And even though you can beat all the songs on 8 different settings, it gets pretty boring after a while. It's not a large diversity of 50 or 70 songs; you'll wind up playing some of those songs over and over. Also, many of the songs have been shortened, and the "adult" words were censored (Walkin' On The Sun is a major offender, no pun intended; it's the song with the most words censored), leaving an awkward blank. Also, I will never pretend to be an ace gamer; I'll admit it when a game is too hard for me. This one is fine, because you get to choose the difficulty setting every time. And while the “easier” songs do become a bit of a challenge on Expert, the ones that are considered “Hard” regardless of difficulty become damn impossible, especially on Expert. (There's a reason I call Expert/Intense Mode “Insane Mode” every once in a while.) Seriously, that solo in Crazy Train is nearly impossible. Probably because I'm not talented enough to do it. Maybe my reflexes aren't quick enough, or my eyes can't follow, or my hand-eye coordination... Alright, I'm not good enough at this! However, I gotta admit that the developers who put the frets on the tracks did a good job. Maybe there are too many frets on Expert, but that might just be an impression. Or maybe there are really that many notes to hit when you're playing on a real guitar.

Also, that you must play the solos is
a rather fun idea. The solos can get pretty
hard, so there's a challenge. You get a LOT
of points if you miss zero note during a solo.
The achievements are a nice touch, and it sure is fun to try and get them all. Some are plot-related and very easy to get, some of the talent achievements are a little harder to get, and most of the challenges about songs are easy, but there are some that are a lot harder. Get five stars on every song? Relatively easy. Get golden stars on any song? Very hard. Get 2,000,000 points on Sister Christian? Very, very hard. A downside, however, is that there's over a dozen challenges that can only be earned in Multiplayer Mode... For which you need other players, who have their Nintendo DS and another copy of Rock Band 3 DS. What are the odds of that happening? They're thin. Sure, it's fun for those who have friends who also love Rock Band... but the other Rock Band games have the positive aspect that you need only one copy of the game, one console, and all the instruments... which are sold with the game, so you just have to gather your friends and play with them. And since you got the real fake instruments, you can play make-believe far better than you can with this DS game. For this one, you need up to four Nintendo DS and four copies of the same game... See the problem? Did I mention that some multiplayer achievements require that you play with three other people?

The story is nothing special, just what you'd expect from a game about becoming famous through music. I think the truly awesome part is that your characters are fully customizable; there are lots of pieces of clothing to unlock and also a lot of instruments. Your band can look great or lame, if you want. But the most awesome part is that regardless of what your band looks like, they will appear in the cutscenes the way they are. The way you designed them, the way you dressed them. Every cutscene you unlocked will show them with the style you gave them. Yes, even if it contradicts the first cutscenes you saw. Heck, the band logo you picked at the beginning of the game will appear in the cutscenes too! That's taking “customizable story” a step beyond what most games do. That's pretty awesome. Bottom line, great fun game with only a few defects, but it's not for me.

But remember: Even though I'm ranting on the qualities and defects of games and movies, what matters isn't that there are qualities and defects. Of course, its important to observe, to analyze, to check the details for any type of media, for any work of fiction out there. It's important to come to a conclusion. You can read what's been said about a game or film, ponder on what others have pointed out, listen to the critiques. The most important isn't the criticism, the nitpicks or the humongous reviews. What matters is whether you had fun playing that game, watching that movie, listening to that song, viewing that TV show, looking at this portrait or statue or whatever. That's what counts. For 2015, I wish to you, reader, lots of cultural discoveries, and most of all, I wish you enjoy all of them. There's always going to be lesser works, whether it's a movie that insults a social class, a game made for quick bucks, an uninspired song or an unfunny cartoon. It's inevitable. But it's all worth it for the masterpieces that come out as well. Praise it when it's good, criticize it when it's bad; when all's said and done, all that truly matters is whether or not you enjoyed it.

To you, reader, I wish a happy 2015. May the next year be awesome.