Nowadays, you don’t need to be able to sing or play guitar, drums, or any other instrument to be in a band. Hell, you don’t even need to play the kazoo, triangle, or a plastic comb covered in wax paper. All you need is a video game, and with the rhythm game genre that’s skyrocketed in popularity over the last decade, anyone can become a musician. And if you’re not planning on entering the school talent show, does it matter if the instruments are virtual or not? It’s still fun, regardless. Rock Band 3 for Nintendo DS, the latest in the popular franchise, proves it.
Like Dance Dance Revolution, Guitar Hero, and others in the long, long list of rhythm games, Rock Band 3 basically tests your sense of beat, requiring you to hit buttons when the game tells you to. You’ll have to juggle all components of the band (guitar, drums, keyboard, and vocals), each with its own set of notes that must be played to score points. You can use the L and R buttons on your DS to toggle between instruments. Otherwise, it’s nothing new. Keep in sync with the beat long enough and you’ll score bonus points; the higher your score, the better your ranking for each song, and the more songs you’ll unlock.
As for the songs themselves, it’s a pretty solid collection of familiar hits. You’re given a slate of rock favorites that span the decades, among them the Doobie Brothers’s “China Grove,” Smash Mouth’s “Walkin’ on the Sun,” Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again,” and Paramore’s “Misery Business.” The biggest drawback of the song list—and the whole game—is the fact that the track count is downright puny compared to the game’s console versions. On consoles, you get an amazing list of 83 songs, but on the DS, it’s curtailed to 25. Pretty big bummer when the music is what can make or break these games.
Not that Rock Band 3 for the DS is a broken game. In fact, it’s still pretty awesome, even when you consider the shortage of tuneage. For the great many gamers who’ve played these types of games, even in passing at some party, Rock Band 3 is a cinch to learn, but difficult to master. Even if it’s an abridged package of its non-handheld counterparts, it’s definitely one of this year’s highlights for the DS.