Rock Band Blitz: A fresh take on the music rhythm genre

Rock Band is a music rhythm series by Harmonix Studios which debuted in 2009 for Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii.

Rock Band is a music rhythm series by Harmonix Studios which debuted in 2009 for Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii. Since then it’s seen three main releases and a handful of mobile and band-related spinoffs such as Rock Band: The Beatles.

Rock Band Blitz comes as a digital only download in 2012 for Xbox 360 and PS3 owners, and manages to be one of the most unique title in the series. Unlike the other Rock Band games it only uses a standard game controller and does not support the plastic instruments that Rock Band and Guitar Hero are known for. Instead RB:Blitz takes a leaf from the book of earlier Harmonix developed titles: Amplitude, Frequency and the PSP-only release Rock Band: Unplugged. The player is presented with four note tracks, each of which represent an instrument, a fifth track appears on songs containing keyboard notes.

The aim of the game is to get as high as score as possible, this can be done by maintaining multipliers on each of the tracks by successfully hitting enough notes to reach higher multipliers before the next checkpoint at which the maximum possible multiplier increases, but only if no track is left on the lowest multiplier. 

One of the main features not seen in other Rock Band titles is the inclusion of score power-ups, there are sixteen to chose from total though they must be unlocked by playing songs. These power-ups also cost coins to use and come under three categories, anywhere from 100-250 coins is needed for each powerup, one can be selected at a time from each category. Coins can be earned by beating songs, overdrive power-ups allow the player to score big points using their overdrive meter (which fills by successfully hitting enough white coloured notes). Note power-ups allow special effects when purple notes are hit, such as a pinball rolling on the rack and bouncing off your overdrive meter. Track power-up allows bonus points to be gained for a single instrument track. The use of these power-ups is key to beating songs with 5 stars and earning high scores and gaining a good spot on the leaderboards. 

The controls are incredibly simple, the shoulder buttons are used to move left and right between the tracks while A (Xbox 360) X (PS3) and the left analogue stick are used to hit the right and left notes in each track respectively, X (Xbox 360) or Circle (PS3) is for using your overdrive powerup. The controls work as they should, though it can be difficult to hit a string of close together notes on the left side with the analogue stick. The game does offer other configurations in the options for those interested.

The downloadable music rhythm title comes with 25 songs to chip away at, all of which are exportable for use in other Rock Band titles, the game is also compatible with any prior downloaded songs the player already owns. 

Rock Band: Blitz is a fun game but it does possess a few jarring faults. Initially having to unlock power-ups and needing to amass enough coins to use these power-ups seems unneccesary and results in players having to later replay initial songs to earn 5 star ratings. The game also pushes players to link to their facebook account and use the Rock Band World app to play challenges and unlock more coins, it’s baffling why this could not be implemented within the game’s network instead. The initial song selection screen is also quite limited, displaying a few songs you’ve already played, some glorified adverts for songs ‘you might like’ and a couple random picks. You have to scroll to the end of the selections to access the full song selection menu that Rock Band and Guitar Hero enthusiasts come to expect. 

Despite all these glaring issues and nuances, it’s still hard to not recommend Rock Band: Blitz if not just as a cheap song pack for Rock Band 2/3 for those that already own it. The title is still great fun in its own right and comparing and beating friends scores in the leaderboards is as addictive as it ever was. The power-ups and the multi-track gameplay give the Rock Band series a unique and fresh spin in a done-to-the-death genre. 

  • Developer: Harmonix
  • Platforms: Playstation 3 & Xbox 360 (Digital Download)
  • Genre: Music
  • Price: 1200 MS points/£8.79
  • Players: 1
  • Release Date: August 2012