March 31, 2009
I bought Rock Band 1 shortly after launch day, and it was my first instrument-based rhythm game. I had a little practice in the genre, with Stepmania for my feet, and Frets On Fire for an experience that was similar to "guitaring".
On my first day with the game, I took drums, with my brother on vocals for the majority of our time. I quickly discovered that beating drums in any sort of real rhythm is HARD! Similarly, using actual drumsticks to hit pads with is a great feeling. It took quite a bit of practice before I could get through the easiest songs without failing. I did eventually go on to the other instruments, but playing those drums is what always keeps me coming back.
I've had a whole lot of practice since then, dedicating a few weeks to the task, and I can now play the drums on the hardest difficulty for most songs, though I am still lacking on the highest tier of songs. Playing through a difficult song successfully is one of the best gaming experiences I've ever had. I find that usually when a game has a super high point for successes, it also comes with super lows for failure. Not so, in this case! When I fail out on a song, I know exactly whose fault it is(mine, if I'm alone, there are no Cheap Tricks being thrown at me from the developers), and it drives me to do better on the next try, provided my arms aren't in pain from beating the drums.
I went through 4 sets of drums(EA replaced them for free every time, thanks for that!) until I got a set that lasted me. That set is now retired, replaced with the wonderful Rock Band 2 drums. They really are a huge improvement, with quieter heads so that the game is still audible over the clacking of stick on pad, and a smoother rebound feeling as well. I do wish the drums were still wired, as their portability is about the same as it was on the old drums, but now they eat batteries like M&Ms.
Rock Band 2 fixed what I thought were the few problems Rock Band 1 had. The song list shows instrument-specific difficulties, and more information about the songs. There's also a no fail mode for when you don't want a loss to be a buzzkill. There was a great feature to keep most songs from the disc while switching to Rock Band 2, however, that didn't include Enter Sandman, Run to the Hills or Paranoid. All of which, unfortunately were alot of fun to play.
Playing the game has made me want to pick up drumming for real, but as I don't think I have the patience for learning a real instrument, I'll be sticking with my plastic instruments for a while.