Premise: This video game allows you to live out your wildest fantasies of performing poetry live in front of a crowd of almost a dozen nonchalant fans. Watch as your avatar, dressed in a trenchcoat and unwashed jeans, or perhaps a plaid tunic and a Utilikilt, reads Allen Ginsberg’s Please Master to a mostly unimpressed audience in a poorly-lit basement café while you tap along. Will you be rewarded with faint finger-snapping, or suffer the shame and humiliation of dead silence? Will you be able to tell the difference? The Street Poet expansion pack contains a tilt sensor that detects if you are leaning in close enough to terrify your victim with your glassy eyes, uneven stubble and liquor-tainted heavy breathing.
Tragic Flaw: Besides the fact that multiplayer and network play possibilities are severely lacking, I don’t know who would possibly want to lip-sync along to Alden Nowlan in front of their friends at a party. Or at least I hope I don’t.
Genesis: I was shaving, and thinking of how ineffably sad the concept of RockBand is. Now that the Beatles properties have been pried from Michael Jackson’s cold dead hands and pressed into the service of this franchise, it’s even worse than it was before. Really, there are only two kinds of people who don’t like RockBand: people who like playing music, and people who like playing games. RockBand is the fishstick of video games; as a fish stick is neither a stick, nor is it fish, RockBand is neither a game, nor is it music. Basically, when you play RockBand, you are listening to music, and tapping along (oh, it’s all just tapping along, whether it’s pressing buttons or hitting “drums” or “singing”). There is nothing wrong with this; I do it on the bus all the time. For free. But with RockBand, if you tap along “wrong”, you fail. Nothing like trivializing the artistic process, eh? RockBand makes the art of playing music seem like a trumped-up version of Pocket Repeat with visual cues. It drove Kurt Cobain to paint the insides of his head all over the walls, and Michael Jackson to rabidly protect the Lennon-McCartney catalogue from corporate interests at the risk of his reputation and personal health, and they were tapping along right. I can only imagine Wii Surgery and Difficult Childbirth (for the PSP) are next. RockBand’s only saving grace is that it taps the market demographic of “people who don’t like music or video games”, making both cheaper for the rest of us, and then keeps those people safely at home so we can attend concerts without being bothered by their presence.
Disposition: Does not scan.