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Opinion: Music in Music Games; Are we not Tired of the Same Songs?

This year see’s the return of two pretty big titles in the musical video game genre, but aren’t we getting sick of the same old songs?

With this year seeing the return of Rock Band and Guitar Hero, the musical video game genre is back on the rise, and while Rock Band seems to be sticking with the same formula allowing for backwards compatibility, Guitar Hero is heading down the innovative route hoping to woo players with a new control system and overall concept. All this is well and good for fans of either franchise, but there’s just one thing that’s ticking me off a little. I’m getting sick of the same old songs being added to the games.

This mainly comes after Activision revealed the first handful of songs for Guitar Hero Live. Aside from a couple of popular songs from today, there’s an overwhelming setlist of songs we’ve played through a million times before. Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Higher Ground and Pantera’s Cowboys from Hell are in the first Guitar Hero game, The Killers’ When You Were Young was also on Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, and while these are all well and good to buff up a playlist, for some – myself mostly included in that – they’re just a little uninspiring for a game I’m expected to spend over £60+ for. Though these repeated tracks are likely due to the game having no backward compatibility.

The first six songs on Rock Band 4’s epic playlist have also been revealed, which are for the most part fairly different and, at least in my opinion, are on the right track, but that’s likely due to have already exhausted all of the cliche songs in previous games, and as you know all of the past DLC will also be compatible so Harmonix has to look outside the box for a starting playlist to draw fans in. And it’s working, as I’m warming more towards Rock Band 4 than Guitar Hero Live.

Now, I’m a music snob. I get called that a lot and though I don’t really think that’s the case, I have strong opinions on music, so I guess I am a snob, right? But I hope I echo everyone else’s thoughts on the current state of the playlists: There’s really nothing unique from other Rock Band or Guitar Hero titles, there’s a lot of “epic guitar” songs, a lot of sing-a-long tracks that’ll have you and your drunk friends wailing along to one night, but as someone who wants to play a musical game accessible to everyone, I’m a little bored of hearing the same old songs over and over again.

Opinion: Music in Music Games; Are we not Tired of the Same Songs? - n3rdabl3

Sure, there’s going to be a swath of DLC available on Rock Band 4, and Guitar Hero Live is also having its GH TV feature allowing players to stream songs along with their music video, but as far as we know right now at least, all of the songs added to Rock Band and Guitar Hero will be added by the developers themselves. Of course, all of the details haven’t been revealed just yet so what I’m about to say could become void the closer we get to release, but there’s no choice in what music and songs are added to the game, we can’t upload our own playlists to the game and expect them to work (though that would be nice) so we’re left hoping that our favourite band will get some air time.

I think the point I’m trying to ramble on about is that right now there’s nothing other than the history that I’ve had with these games bringing me back to the titles. The songs (so far) are lacklustre at best, and while I understand that the developers are trying to target not only a pretty niche market, but make it so it’s accessible to everyone and not just metal heads, I don’t think my playlist issue can be solved unless either Rock Band or Guitar Hero’s developers figure out a way for players to add their own playlists into the game which then somehow creates the notes for each instrument, which right now seems pretty difficult to achieve.

Maybe there should be a free-play mode where it offers a rough guide for players to play though, game’s like Drive Any Track use songs added to the game to offer custom raceways and cars, so could Rock Band 4 and Guitar Hero Live offer something similar? It’d probably really only work best for fairly straight songs, and nothing too progressive, but it’d be something, right?

Who knows, maybe Rock Band 5 and Guitar Hero Live 2 may be able to solve that problem – though it’s unlikely as both Harmonix and FreeStyleGames have said that these two titles hope to remain relevant for the unforeseeable future. Though I’ll definitely eat my guitar if either developer announces compatibility with Spotify or the ability to upload your own songs, no matter what they are. Perhaps I should just shut up and enjoy myself? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below.

  • Paul Graham

    Cue Nirvana, RHCP, Modest Mouse, The Strokes and the usual suspects. Also expect 50% of the soundtrack to contain soulless, three chord indie strumfests that offer nothing but boredom and repetitive strain injury.

    I want American Head Charge, less popular Marilyn Manson, 80s/90s Guns n Roses, Black Label Society and some semblance of decent metal in place of the endless indie DLC that was slapped on the online stores every week to quiet the crowd of bearded, Starbucks drinking bufoons that seem to define what talent is these days.