"Rock Band" on Wii: The same as before, but still fun

Salon's political blogger pursues his rock star dreams.

Published June 19, 2008 8:05PM (EDT)

Hi, Machinist readers -- you may recognize me from Salon's political blog, War Room. I'm posting here today because, like all political bloggers, I have a deep, dark secret: Really, I never wanted to be a political blogger. I wanted to be a rock star. (You know Matt Drudge? He only started the Drudge Report after he flubbed an audition to be the Red Hot Chili Peppers' 30th guitarist. True story.)

But, as I have sadly discovered, the music industry is horribly discriminatory. The music industry fat cats are not interested, apparently, in those who -- like me -- were born without any sort of musical ability whatsoever.

But then there's "Rock Band," the video game that's been capitalizing quite successfully on the failed dreams of people like me. It debuted last fall to critical acclaim, and robust sales. And next Tuesday, June 22, it'll be out on the Nintendo Wii. (The Special Edition, which includes a drum set, microphone and one guitar, sells for $190.)

The game seems fairly well matched to the console: The idea of "Rock Band" is that, instead of using traditional game controllers to live out your fantasy, you get actual guitars, a microphone and a drum set. The usual Wii controllers, which base gameplay on players' motions, are a similar break from gaming tradition.

There are some drawbacks to putting the game on the Wii, and it's a somewhat slimmed-down version. For example, players can't download new songs to add to the game, as those using other consoles can. And whether "Rock Band" will be a hit with the Wii's demographic, which tends to skew toward those who aren't as interested in the typical video game, remains to be seen. But the fun of the original version does remain.

Below, you can see a video of my attempts -- pathetic though they might be -- to reach for "Rock Band" stardom. (At one point, you'll notice, I'm singing along with the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage." I picked that song because I figured it would make me sound the least bad of all the choices. Judge for yourself how well that bet worked out.)

With me in the video are two people who do P.R. for the game, Mariana Agathoklis and John Drake. Part of their job is to play this game very, very often, which might make you jealous -- that is, until you hear that while doing demonstrations in Japan, Drake had to sing for 15 hours straight. You may also recognize Drake from the Main Drag, the band that won Salon's 2006 Song Search.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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