Game Music, Reviews

The Beatles Rock Band: Goo Goo Gajoob? (Review)

November 27, 2009 | | 1 Comment Share thison Facebook The Beatles Rock Band: Goo Goo Gajoob? (Review)on Twitter

Most people thought this game would be impossible to pull off.  We’d been watching this game for a long time, and were really excited after getting a peak into the development of the game in our interview with the dev team at E3. From rights to the music to actually recreating the universe of The Beatles, Harmonix had some pretty heft expectations to meet, but I think they’ve done it.

The Beatles Rock Band is pretty much the same Rock Band that you’ve all known and loved, but in the form of Beatles heaven. I guess your opinion of this game may be biased one way or the other depending on your like or dislike of The Beatles, but I can’t help but love this game and the improvements it makes in many areas that bugged me the most in other Rock Band titles.

More about that and other aspects of the game in our The Beatles Rock Band review after the jump.

First and foremost, you’re going to notice that this game is beautiful right from the first menu screen. Everything is vibrant and colorful, which is time period-appropriate, and Harmonix has really outdone themselves with the revamping of the menus and even the game screen. The game screen has a retro vibe to it, looking more flat and dry compared to the sleek modern style in other Rock Band games, and there are neat little effects like these little stars that pop out of a note when you play it correctly. Little details like this are what make this a wonderful and engaging Beatles experience.

How about visuals elsewhere in the game? There are comic book-like cutscenes scattered throughout the game that tell the story of the band as they build their name in the career mode, and even the ugly, disfigured, pudgy characters that have been featured in past Rock Band titles are replaced with faithful recreations of the band members. Even better, each song has its own unique “music video” of sorts, which I’ve been begging for from guitar-based rhythm games for years, and Harmonix took special care to create different variations on the band members to fit what they actually looked like at that time. You’ll see long hair during their later songs, and bowl cuts during their earlier performances. Some of the videos are particularly odd, including “I Am the Walrus,” which features the band in costumes in a psychedelic adventure, although they get the lyrics as “goo goo gajoob” when I could have swore they were “coo coo cachoo

Sorry to go on so long about the game’s look, but it’s really half of what the game is all about. The gameplay is pretty much the same as every other Rock Band title, except you can play with up to 6 players, with two additional slots for vocal harmonies. Let me say that these harmonies are incredibly difficult to pull off. They’re not as intuitive as singing the lead, as many of us already know these songs and can hum them outside of the game, but when it comes time to do the harmonies, you actually have to re-learn the pitch, which is a time consuming but greatly rewarding endeavor. Additionally, it’s obvious that not every Beatles song is suited for a guitar performance, so Harmonix has put other instruments at your disposal, including woodwinds, a sitar (amazing!), and even a whole orchestra which you control with the guitar… strange, but awesome!

I also have to note that they’ve addressed another complaint of mine over the years: unlocking songs. All of the game’s music is available in the quick play mode right from the start, so no having to track down the cheat code to unlock all the songs for a party if you’re not interested in the career mode. The career mode does have incentives, however, as you’ll unlock special videos and artwork based on your performance, each complete with unique and insightful commentary on what was going on with the band at the time. It’s also a blast to see the ascent of The Beatles to legendary status through the career mode, playing through a number of their most memorable shows.

When it comes to song selection, I have to say I’m a tad disappointed. There are a good number of songs here, and it’s great to be reminded of some of the lesser known but equally awesome songs in The Beatles’ catalogue, but there are some glaring omissions. The game doesn’t come with greats like “Eleanor Rigby,” “Yesterday,” and “Hey Jude,” among many others. Why is this? It’s likely because they’ll later become available as DLC. Yes, there are already two albums available for download, which fill in missing tracks from Abbey Road and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They’re awesome, of course, and Abbey Road is my favorite album of theirs, but they come at a hefty price of $2 per single or about $14 per album, which might even be more expensive than buying the actual album at the store.

So, is the game fun to play? I think it’s a blast, but then again, I love The Beatles. I’ve found at parties that people tend to get tired of the track list after a short time, as there’s only so much Beatles a big group of players can take. I’m usually asked to put in Rock Band or Rock Band 2 after a few sets, but it’s still nice to pop in when people have a certain song in mind. One bonus with The Beatles Rock Band, however, is the new “no fail mode,” which, as you’d expect, doesn’t kick you out of a song when you fail.  This is great for groups of people who perhaps don’t play often, and want to get through the entire song without the abrupt halt of failure.  I personally like to play it with smaller groups of people who are hardcore Beatles fans, as you can easily get through a good portion of the track list before you get tired of The Beatles.

The bottom line is that I’m very appreciative that this game was made, and I’m glad it’s selling well.  It’s nice to see them take a risk on creating a game based around a single group, and The Beatles is certainly the group to feature if you’re going to pick just one. In other similar titles including Guitar Hero: Aerosmith and Guitar Hero: Van Halen, there were other bands featured as “opening acts” to keep things fresh, but The Beatles have so much personality and diversity in their catalog that I think they do just fine on their own. I highly recommend checking The Beatles Rock Band out if you haven’t already, and watch for more DLC in the near future.

Have you been able to check out The Beatles Rock Band yet and have any thoughts about it? What do you think of the whole-album DLC scheme that they have going on, and the ability to play songs that don’t even feature a guitar?

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