LEGO ROCK BANDSpring 2010 Video Games
Not that LEGOs aren't for everyone, but older kids wanting to simulate a rock-band experience probably aren't looking for cute and adorable, and that's what this is. That said, this latest incarnation of the Rock Band franchise is fun and oddly fascinating precisely because of that unlikely combination of a rock band sim and those sweet little blockheaded LEGO characters. Hey, if they can LEGO-ize Indiana Jones and Star Wars, why not spike-haired punk rockers, head-bobbing guitarists and whacky lead singers belting out tunes by Bon Jovi and Foo Fighters?
The basics haven't changed from other rocker-sim titles. Players start off choosing characters for the band. Then they pick up their pseudo guitar-like controllers or sit at the drum-set controller and try to keep up with the color-coded notes that scroll toward the front of the screen with each song. Singers use the microphone and try to hit lyrics at the right moment and pitch. The better you do, the higher the rating.
Instead of concert halls and rock clubs, the venues here are classic LEGO-castles, UFO settings and haunted houses. LEGO-ized David Bowie shows up, and Freddie Mercury, too. The modes include Free Play (for quick start), the Story Mode (a career mode with gigs and groupies) and a demanding Rock Power Challenge mode. Otherwise, LEGO Rock Band is easier, giving youngsters a bigger margin of error when they play the wrong note or hit the drum late--especially in the Super Easy mode (forget the fret buttons and never mind hitting the right drum, just keep up).
The setlist? Short (45 tunes) but sweet, and arguably "suitable for younger audiences" including such songs such as Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'," Blink 182's "Aliens Exist" and Europe's "The Final Countdown." And there's the yet-agains like Queen's "We Are the Champions" and Carl Douglas's "Kung Foo Fighting," plus a few just-for-fun tunes like Ray Parker Jr. "Ghostbusters."
Speaking of "suitable," kids can't go online to XBOX Live via LEGO Rock Band, sparing them from online outsiders' harsh criticism and bad language. One important note: LEGO Rock Band comes as a disc-only game. It bundled with the guitar, drums and mic. So if this is your child's first venture into rock-band sims, you have to buy the instruments separately or borrow from an older sibling.
If your youngster, maybe as young as 7 or 8, likes LEGOs and wants to pretend playing in a band, this game's cool. For others, there may be better options.