Lego Rock Band (PS3/360/Wii/DS), a new music game from Traveller's Tales and Harmonix, combines the family-friendly aesthetics of the popular Danish building blocks with the rhythm-based play of Rock Band while providing enough difficulty options to let players of all skill levels get into the groove.
All of the game's tracks have a "super easy" mode that allows players to strum any note or tap any drum to register a successful hit. Likewise, singers just have make sounds into the mic in time with the music to successfully complete phrases. Plus, young ADDers are looked after via a heaping helping of single song set lists as well as the ability to play shortened versions of each song.
However, there's still a full range of more challenging modes, including easy, medium, hard, and expert. Indeed, you'll do no better on the hardest levels in this Rock Band than you would in any other entry in the franchise-which is good, because as kids have shown time and again, they're often more adept at playing games than their parents (check out this video of a teen playing Guitar Hero on expert with his elbow while solving two Rubick's Cubes if you don't believe me).
Then there's the Lego aspect. Lego Rock Band is loaded with cute little mini-figures (many in the likeness of popular musicians, such as Blur) and lots of Lego vehicles-including vans, helicopters, planes, and hovercraft-to ferry them to their gigs.
Players will also spend plenty of time buying bricks assembled to resemble drums, fire hydrants, and other items, then placing them around their customizable "rock den."
The Lego theme has even been worked into the game's interface, with flat two-studed bricks subbed in for the notes that scroll down screen.
So far so good. It looks and feels like an ideal music game for children. But there is one glaring issue: The music. While grown-ups will appreciate many of the game's 40-plus songs-including Bon Jovi's "You Give Love a Bad Name," Queen's "We Will Rock You," and Pink's "So What"-I'm not sure kids will be familiar with these tracks.
Children have been thrown a few bones in the form of songs made popular in kids movies-such as Rascal Flatts' "Life is a Highway", which was in Cars, and Counting Crows' "Accidentally in Love," a song from Shrek 2-but that's not enough. Kids need current songs written for them that they know well. It pains me to write this, but Lego Rock Band needs less Europe, Jackson 5, and Foo Fighters and more Jonas Brothers, Justin Bieber, and Miley Cyrus.
That said, if your kids do happen to have a taste for the game's music then Lego Rock Band ought to prove plenty of fun.
Ditto for grown-ups who have a taste for building blocks.
As a lifelong Lego fan I loved the little building blocks facts that popped up during loading screens (did you know that there are 62 Lego bricks for every person currently alive on the planet?).
And using the power of rock to bring down a Lego building scheduled for destruction or drum up a rain cloud for a farmer's field of bright yellow Lego corn-just a couple of the game's dozen or so "rock challenges," a new feature for the series-is a blast.
Plus, you can use a code that comes with the game and pay a $10 fee to make all of the tracks in Lego Rock Band playable in Rock band 2. Conversely, age appropriate songs that you've already downloaded for other Rock Band games are instantly available to play in Lego Rock Band, instantly boosting the game's relatively modest library.
It may not be as appealing to kids as other Lego games and it's probably not as exciting to adults as something like The Beatles: Rock Band , but Lego Rock Band will help create a bridge between gaming mammas and pappas and their controller-wielding kids. That, if nothing else, earns this game an earnest thumbs-up.
Lego Rock Band
Developers: Traveller's Tales, Harmonix
Publishers: Warner Bros., MTV Games
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