Remember Guitar Hero? The hours you spent wailing away on your little plastic guitar, pretending to be a musician? Well Rock Band takes that feeling and cranks it Up to Eleven with the introduction of vocals, drums, keyboards, and pro modes, and it allows you to do it with up to six of your friends.Let's clear up some confusion first: Harmonix made Guitar Hero, Guitar Hero 2, Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s (the last one under contract), and then went on to release Rock Band in 2007 under EA and MTV Games, the latter of which, in turn, is under Viacom. (Lego Rock Band was handled by Travellers Tales with the Rock Band 2 engine, although Harmonix took care of the note charting). Guitar Hero 3, Aerosmith, and all Hero games after that were made by Neversoft under Activision Blizzard (Except for Smash Hits, which was handled by Beenox, and Van Halen, which was handled by Underground). At the end of 2010, Harmonix and Viacom announced that they are parting ways, with Harmonix sold to its holding company, effectively making it independent again.Rock Band was the original release, a Spiritual Successor to Guitar Hero 2. Differences from Guitar Hero 2 include all-black highway backgrounds, rectangular gems instead of round ones, the extensive use of original masters instead of covers; perhaps most important is the addition of vocals (with Harmonix using their experience developing Karaoke Revolution to good use) and drums, which join the pre-existing guitar and bass modes, allowing for a total of four players (bandmates) at once and expanding the number of ways to play from one to three (as the guitar and bass modes share similar gameplay).Rock Band 2 was released a year later (2008), with significant upgrades to the often-criticized instruments - including the $300 Ion Drum Kit, which can also be used as a regular MIDI drumkit. Not to mention drum tutorials, a World Tour playable alone (or without needing to sing while you do), the ability to port over songs from Rock Band 1 for a small fee (on the 360 and PS3), and more. Both games are supported by a large pool of downloadable songs (the same large pool, in fact— all DLC is on the same platform, though songs released beyond Rock Band 3 won't work in previous games), including some by artists and genres further flung from what most consider "rock", like country, funk, and electronic dance, as well as a number of independent and international artists. Whereas the first game had less than 60 songs, this one had 84, with all songs available on every instrument. It was in this era that the Rock Band Network was introduced, allowing anyone with an Xbox Live developer account to submit their own music and charts and receive a piece of the revenue.Two years after the release of Rock Band 2, the third game, Rock Band 3, was released in October 2010, with a great deal of new features. The game introduces an all-new keyboard controller, with its own note charts for the 60+ songs that have a real-life keyboard (or substitute) part. Also new is the "Pro" guitar mode with two new controllers: the Mustang controller aims to simulate a six-string with a fret board of over a hundred buttons that costs about $130, and another one that is a six-string that can be used both in and out of the game (costs $280). The Pro Drum mode forces players to hit cymbals appropriately, and the Pro Keyboard mode uses all 25 keys on the new peripheral. A MIDI-to-game adapter is available that allows certain real life e-drums and keyboards to hook into the game. The pro guitar is also made to an open standard, so third-party instruments such as the You Rock Midi Guitar work with the game as well. Harmony support like in the Beatles and Green Day games is also present, as well as a much-improved drop-in\drop-out system, similar to the Party Mode in Guitar Hero 5 which allows players to drop in and drop out any time, even in the middle of a song. The game allows up to seven players to play at once, provided one has all seven controllers (two guitars, a set of drums, a keyboard, and three microphones). This time there are 83 songs, which all have guitar, pro guitar, bass, pro bass, (pro) drums, keys, pro keys, and up to three vocals charts except in cases where the appropriate instrument doesn't exist in the original song. Previous DLC songs work in Rock Band 3 with their original (guitar, bass, drums, and vocals) tracks, plus pro drums which were always charted but weren't used, while new DLC songs have all the new features except pro guitar and pro bass charts, which can be bought together on select songs for an extra dollar.In August 2012, Rock Band Blitz was released for Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, which serves as another Spiritual Successor to past Harmonix game Frequency (much like Unplugged and the DS version of Rock Band 3), except with 25 new songs, and compatibility with all current DLC.An expansion disc featuring the set-list from the AC/DC - Live at Donington concert DVD was also released (a must because AC/DC didn't want their songs online, or available outside of Wal-Mart, one of their sponsors). Track Packs containing otherwise downloadable songs alongside timed exclusive songs included as an incentive to purchase are also available.A Mission Pack Sequel, The Beatles: Rock Band, was released on September 9, 2009, followed by another one based on Green Day was released in June 8, 2010. The latter game can be exported to the main platform. Both games are exactly what they say on the cover, with no real gameplay change from Rock Band 2 aside from the addition of vocal harmonies, bringing the total number of people that can play the game at once to six. It should be noted that The Beatles: Rock Band is not considered part of the main Rock Band family, and unlike all the other titles in the series, does not export or play Rock Band downloadable content, and vice-versa. It does, however, have its own downloadable content. There was also Lego Rock Band, which adds new songs (obviously) and also (on the PS3 and 360 versions, at least) the same downloadable content that the main Rock Band games allow for, assuming they have been rated "Family Friendly" (See also: Lighter and Softer). Games in the series:
Between all of the games (all of which besides the Beatles can be exported to the latest game) and the $2 a la carte downloads (and slightly discounted packs), there are over 4000 songs from more than 1,600 artists available to be played in Rock Band 3. Since most songs can be played on at least 4 to 5 instruments, there are over 16000 "levels" in this game, each of which can be played in any of four different difficulties note (each difficulty chart is different except for vocals, meaning there are over 64000 charts out there currently). While a few of them are repetitive (drums and bass mostly) and\or have long rests (keyboard and vocals mostly), the vast majority are a lot of fun to play and listen to. While the cost of DLC makes buying all of them prohibitive in practice, there are certainly a lot of options available when it comes to purchasing songs.On April 2, 2013, Harmonix released its final official DLC song, Don McLean's "American Pie", closing out 281 consecutive weeks of DLC releases.
Big Rock Ending: Charted as a Button Mashing part. The first game got a little carried away with these, placing them on every song that could even remotely qualify, and musically adding them into many of the covers that didn't (and even a few master tracks!). Also, the AC/DC pack has some ridiculously long "BRE"s, but those ones are justified.
Bladder of Steel: An optional achievement (in Rock Band 2) gives us what has to be the biggest modern example this side of MMOs. We're talking over six hours without failing or pausing. The songs go in ascending order of difficulty as well, so you're probably already tired out by the time you get to Visions, Panic Attack, Painkiller, etc., making failure even more likely.
All Guitars Are Stratocasters - Which is really saying something, because the official guitar controllers are Stratocasters. And before 3, you always start with a Stratocaster. Though you can buy other models like Telecasters, Jaguars, and those offered by Fender subsidiaries like Squier, Gretsch and Jackson.
And Your Reward Is Clothes: And instruments, and vehicles. In the earlier RB games, you earned cash per song with which you could buy stuff (especially in the first game, where for every main song you beat in Solo Tour, you got a free piece of clothing); in RB3, you earn clothes and instruments from passing "goals" listed in the shops and detailed in the "My Goals" menu. Annoyingly, a few of the clothes in RB2 are only unlockable in 3 through much more difficult (and\or controller-requiring) means.
A Good Name for a Rock Band: Just take a look at the leader boards on-line, you'll find scads of them. Or if you want silly names, there's always the random ones the game generates.
After Boss Recovery: While playing setlists, your rock meter resets to its default position at five-sixths of the way full when a new songs starts, no matter where it was at the end of the last song. Sadly, there's no such easy recovery for your fingers/arms.
Sure there is, it's called "Hit the Pause Button for a few minutes." Unless you're going for Bladder of Steel, of course...
Outside of Battle of the Bands, your overdrive also empties itself between songs.
Some songs include drum beats where the high hat (usually charted to yellow lane) and the toms (which would be charted to blue and green lanes) are played simultaneously, meaning if the song was charted as is, it would require you to cross your arms awkwardly. For songs like this, Harmonix frquently charts the high-hat to the green lane instead, so you don't need to cross your arms. This can be seen in "Battery", "...And Justice for All", "Ted, Just Admit It...", and "Don't Stop Believing". Even better, it's reversed back to the proper placements if playing in pro mode with a dedicated hi-hat.
If Pantera's "13 Steps to Nowhere"'s drums were charted literally, it would require you to do a roll on the blue drum while frequently crossing your arms to hit the red drum. Instead, they charted that roll as alternating between blue and red, making it much less awkward to play, and turned it into one of the most fun drum solos in the game.
Unfortunately, Pro Drums will undo this swap if you have the yellow cymbal notes turned on, since it uses the "Disco Flip" flag. Fortunately, the part is still playable: toms alternating blue-yellow with the snare on red isn't too terribly hard to do, and Guitar Hero 5 vets that are used to playing with the RB drums will have little difficulty hitting the part on stock drums.
In "Lego Rock Band". outside of the Rock Challenges, you only lose studs if the crowd meter is empty, rather than failing. You can even recover the studs by playing well afterwards.
Rock Band 3 mitigates the pain of tremolo strumming in older songs by allowing the timing windows to overlap, meaning that you no longer need metronome-like precision to sustain a combo during, say, Waking the Demon.
And speaking of Rock Band 3, failing a song by letting the crowd meter fall to zero is no longer a game-ending disaster - you can keep going even after you fail, but you just won't get any points for your performance. Or you can just turn no-fail on and you'll still be scored.
The pro modes (except for drums) in Rock Band 3 have a bit of error allowance for them:
For keys, if you accidentally clip one key adjacent to a white note you hit then and there, it will not break your combo.
For chords in Guitar, if you are close to the chord shape, the game will count it as correct, and in some situations, you can strum multiple strings for an individual note without penalty. For example, in Antibodies, the E suspended chords used everywhere but the chorus note a D chord on the middle two strings, E7 suspended, and E7 suspended-4, according to the game, most of which use effectively the same fingering can be played with all strings held at the seventh fret, and there is some lee-way with the picked notes (You can hit multiple strings without penalty). However, the game still expects you to make some effort to distinguish between chords, so you must have some of the strings held at 9th fret when the bumps appear to avoid breaking combo.
Trying to go for the Endless Setlist in 3? Worry not, as the game lets you see your score after each song in a setlist for as long as you want until you hit the green button to start the next one. No more annoyance with the Bladder of Steel!
Similarly, any song you're playing will rewind itself a bit after you exit the Pause menu, which means you can continue without disrupting your score and flipping out.
Artifact Title: Arguably, now that the series is focusing on so many different genres of music, although the devs have claimed the title refers to the common lead-bass-drums-vocals ensemble that most rock bands use and not rock music in particular. And, for what it's worth, the vast majority of the series' music library is made up of rock songs.
Audience Participation Song: On most of the on-disc songs, as well as a few DLC (such as the Best of The Who pack, George Thorogood's seminal Bad to the Bone, and The Cult's She Sells Sanctuary, as well as others), there's an additional audio track of a crowd singing along with key parts of the song.
But only if you're doing well. Screw up even once (or a couple of times, depending on who's playing with you), and they'll stop singing, (even though you're still doing really well), but Improving your performance and you'll hear it again.
The crowd also sings along to some instrument parts, like synth on Ghostbusters, the keyboard riff on The Final Countdown and Ruby and, most awesomely, the horns on Pick Up the Pieces.
Much like a real life crowd, in "Wanted Dead or Alive", the audience will ALWAYS sing the second "wanted" during the chorus, even though that happens only once in the song.
Unfortunately, none of the on-disc songs on RB3 do this anymore, which is a shame. The engine still supports them on the relevant songs (imported or DLC).
Before patches, accepting Hot Topic's (who presumably paid to be in the game) offer to sponsor your band for money in Rock Band 2 made you lose a lot of fans, without prior warning, likely for "selling out". Harmonix PR says this was only changed due to user confusion (rejecting an event makes it appear more often, so savvy players would keep getting this offer instead of other ones). Apparently, no one at Hot Topic noticed or minded the implications.
Book Ends: Meta-example: Paul McCartney's "Band on the Run" was in one of the first packs released in 2010. Flash-forward to the last week of 2010, we have... "Band on the Run" again, as part of one of the last packs of the year. The difference is that the first one was a live version from McCartney's live album Good Evening New York City, while the most recent one is the remastered eponymous album version (yep, with Wings).
Boss in Mook Clothing: Some songs are grossly undertiered, with the game claiming they are easier than they really are. In particular...
Rock Band 3's third tier of difficulty for the drums has a startling number of these, including "Free Bird", "Whip It", "I Feel Good", and "Antibodies", none of which have any business being described as "moderate". It also places "Jerry Was a Race Car Driver" in the fifth tier on bass and "Beast and the Harlot" in the fifth tier on guitar, both of which are some of the hardest songs in the game on their respective undertiered instruments.
Avenged Sevenfold's "Afterlife" on Guitar, which was ranked as high-end Challenging (tier 4 out of 6) in Rock Band 2, and low-end Nightmare (tier 8 out of 9) in Rock Band and The same difficulty tier (5 out of 6) in Rock Band 3. Passing this song (on Expert) hinges on how fast your left middle finger or right index finger can tap that red fret.
Who decided that "New" by No Doubt should be a four on drums? It features the same drum beat as Run To The Hills (which is a six on drums), and its even a bit faster by comparison, yet it only is a four on drums. Harmonix probably hinted that this is under-tiered by the fact that the song is a three on guitar and vocals and a zero on bass, but a four on general band difficulty, even though the individual instrument difficulties only average out to a two-and-a-half.
"Constant Motion" by Dream Theater may be the most glaring example of of a Boss in Mook Clothing. It is ranked as a five out of six on guitar, yet is agreed by many to be one of the hardest songs on guitar in the game, with many claiming it should be tier seven.note For those who don't know, tier seven is a colloquial term used to describe any DLC song which is harder than the hardest on-disc song in the game on a respective instrument. On guitar, this honor is limited to "Thrasher" by Evile, "Caprici Di Diablo" by Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force, and "Satch Boogie" by Joe Satriani. Those who try will probably beat "Thrasher" before they can beat "Constant Motion", which is why that song is said to be unofficially tier seven.
A particularly egregious example is "Jesus Christ Pose's" (a heavy metal-style song featuring bafflingly fast alternate picking and awkward sliding as its main riff and gives competent Rock Band players extremely sore arms) difficulty on guitar warranting a 4-star rating and somehow being comparable to "Wanted Dead Or Alive" (a slow acoustic ballad whose sole claim to fame is a few tricky arpeggio sections that any competent Rock Band player can ease through) on the same instrument.
Spinal Tap's "Back From the Dead" is in the Nightmare tier on guitar in Rock band 2, but it's in the Impossible tier in Rock Band 1 due to the guitar solo's crazy Ho-Po runs, and its fast strumming near the end of the guitar solo .
Poni Hoax's "Antibodies" starts off reasonable, but then near the end of the song the charts begin to progressively get unexpectedly difficult. The guitar chart is absolutely filled with frustratingly awkward strumming and quasi-random chord progressionsnote Which is just plain Fake Difficulty because of how dead notes are charted in 5-lane mode - your fingers move a lot less in Pro Mode than on 5-lane mode, even if you play every note perfectly (which are quite hard for a tier 2, and will get your fretting pinky begging for mercy) and the drum chart (tier 3) goes a little beyond the disco-influenced patterns it had earlier.
In full-band play, things get much more problematic, as for the first half of the song, the keyboards have a nice and simple note run with a few chords while everyone else has (relatively) easy parts and worry about the keyboardist failing out during the verses. Then, after the second chorus, the keyboardist is the entire band's lifeline as the out-of-nowhere jump in difficulty attacks the guitarist, bassist, and drummer while the vocalist(s) has clap notes and therefore couldn't do anything even if they had overdrive. Remind me again why the song as a whole isn't Impossible-Tier?
Actually, in RB 3, Vocalist are now given the ability to activate overdrive during clap notes. However, they probably would've already burned their 3 bars of overdrive on the two singing phrases before the claps instead of saving it to revive someone...
"Through The Fire And Flames" is Tier 5 on bass. While it's not that difficult aside from the ridiculous speed, it's still much harder than several higher-tiered tracks.
While not ridiculously hard, Shackler's Revenge by Guns and Roses in Rock Band 2 is considerably more difficult than any of the other songs in that tier.
Thrasher by Evile is, on RB2, a 5 on bass. A song with incredibly fast strumming. It is easier due to the fixed engine, but not by much.
Bob Dylan's "Tangled Up in Blue" from Rock Band 2 is only rated Tier 0 (Tier 1 on RB 3) for the drums, but is significantly harder than most higher tier songs.
"Sleepwalker" by Megadeth is a good example of this for vocals. It is ranked as Tier 4 (out of 6), but the verses glide up and down the scale in a very unintuitive way, kind of like "I Get By". Yet, the game still thinks "Carry On Wayward Son" (big range, but nothing too bad) and "Ramblin' Man" (mildly difficult, but tough to actually fail) are harder.
Boss Rush: The "Guitar/Drum/Vocal/Bass Legend" setlists in career mode, in which you play the five hardest songs on each instrument in order of difficulty.
Subverted a bit with the Rock Band 3 Hall Of Fame Induction goal setlists, which are just 8 predetermined songs.
Bowdlerise: Being a T-rated game, swears such as "F**k" and "S**t" are muted from the vocal track (and removed from the vocal chart). The themes, on the other hand, can be pushed pretty far.
Bragging Rights Reward: Some songs like "Run to the Hills", "Visions", and most of the songs in the Mayhem Pack are difficult throughout their entirety, with no easy spots to gain overdrive from. As such, it takes less skill to simply survive those songs than it does to survive them and earn some overdrive on the way through. What this means is that you won't have the luxury of overdrive to help you beat these songs until you are good enough that you don't need it to beat the song.
Brick Joke: In Lego Rock Band, at one point one of your roadies is carried off by an inflatable pig. This sets up a special gig once you reach the Moon stage, when he comes back... still attached to the inflatable pig.
Which was actually foreshadowed in one of the "LEGO Legend" loading screens: "The Inflatable Pig holds the record for longest distance traveled into space by an inflatable pig."
The octopus who auditioned for drums and was rejected in the tour/story mode's opening cutscene comes back with his dad in one of the levels.
The exportable songs for Rock Band, Rock Band 2, Green Day Rock Band, and the AC\DC Track Pack (except for a couple of songs by Bon Jovi, which have Updated Rereleases as DLC) are strictly all-or-nothing affairs. Some of the other track packs didn't have all of their songs available separately until later. Also, the Green Day songs were later released on the Music Store, only they only work in RB3 rather than across the series like the GDRB export.
Inverted with Blitz; all songs from this game were also released as singles, and in some cases as parts of a new pack. Extra credit to the Foster the People pack in this case; the pack was comprised of two previous singles, plus the track from Blitz. The pack was only released when the Blitz track was released as DLC.
Bullet Hell: Some difficult songs on the guitar, drums, or bass will feel like an inversion of this trope. Though many difficult songs will still have a relative pattern to their notes that can be mastered with practice, some songs have notes all over the place that don't seem to follow any reasonable pattern (they usually do, as Bullet Hell is supposed to, but getting used to that pattern is not easy). Of note is the guitar solo in "Don't Tell Me You Love Me", this part of the solo in "Blackened", this part of "Death Quota for Purification", the drum fills of "Day of Mourning", the drum fills in the intro of "Young Man Blues", much of "Guns of Summer" on drums, and on the, erm, "easier" side of things, the entirety of "Rude Mood" on bass and the chorus of "Science Genius Girl" on drums.
You can't talk about a mad hail of notes without mentioning the end of the guitar solo from "Constant Motion", which is easily the most difficult 15 seconds of guitar in the game.
The entire solo for Baptized By Fire. GOOD GOD, even with abuse of the Shredboard Hammeron-pulloff rulesnote A quirk in the HOPO system allows you to pull off to orange or any higher fret when using the shredboard it's still harder than Constant Motion.
Pro Keys is strong overall in this regard. A range of around 15 keys on-screen at any given time, coupled with the "simple but fast" nature of the instrument in real life; even though you only need to play the right-hand part in-game. Take for example, "Roundabout", by Yes. Good luck sight-reading.
Drum (and cymbal) rolls, trills, and tremolo picking in Rock Band 3 charts have the fill lanes underneath them. Smash, mash, or strum away, extra notes in the lanes won't count against you.
Camera Abuse: Good part of the stage animations has your three frontpeople kicking the camera, shoving it away or what have you.
Celebrity Is Overrated: The ending of Rock Band 3's last Road Challenge. Your band is now the biggest in the world...and now has to deal with the paparazzi, the raging fans, and the like. This leads to the bandmates faking their deaths in a plane crash and finally getting some peace and quiet on a deserted beach.
Centipede's Dilemma: Possible everywhere, but probably the hardest hit are drum charts with weird rhythms, such as Use It, and A Jagged Gorgeous Winter. "Hey, I'm nailing this, it's not as hard as it looks, I mean, it just looks hard because of this weird bass pedal here... uh... and then there's this weird snare here... and... uh... how I was I doing this again?"
Backbeats on the drums will take a while to learn, then be easy to do, right up until you start thinking about it. The inclination to move your hands in time with your feet is easy, but if you think about it too much you will want to move them in the same direction at the same time.
Chirping Crickets: This is what you could hear if you miss the notes after a Big Rock Ending.
Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The color-coded gems. The color orange is trouble on everything; it represents the furthest fret on strings, the bass pedal on drums, and harmonies on vocals, which are often less well-known and harder to hear than the lead.
Even Pro Keys and Pro Guitar/Bass has this - the keys have colored lanes representing which group of keys the notes are in (it'll suck to be colorblind), and each string on the Pro Guitar/Bass has its own note color (except for chords, which are always teal), with purple being the high E string. But at least if you are colorblind, you'll have an edge on the overdrive sections, which are all-white on everything except Pro Keys, which remain black and white.
Rock Band Blitz has a different color lane for each instrument in the song: green drums, red bass, yellow guitar, blue vocals, orange keys. Even here, orange is often trouble, as many key charts are sparse, and out of the way at the edge of the road, next to vocals which can also be sparse. This leads to moments where keys prevent the multiplier limit from being raised unless carefully tended to. Even the basic tutorial warns about this.
Continuity Nod: Have previous main games exported, Track Packs downloaded, and any form of DLC when you fire up Rock Band 3? Congratulations, you get access to custom challenges in the Career mode, tailored to each of the applicable instruments. Some of them even duplicating previous games' achievements, such as Lego Rock Band being represented under the Guitar challenges with its infamous "Get 100% on the solo of 'The Final Countdown'."
At the beginning of the opening sequence to Rock Band 3, you can briefly see "Deep Purple on a car" from the first two games.
The Clash's London Calling was a double-album priced around the same as a single album. This is the case in the Rock Band store as well, where the price is $20 for 18 songs (not bad for getting both the songs and 4 to 7 gameplay tracks with each song[note guitar, bass, drums\pro, vocals, and sometimes keys, pro keys, and harmonies). Train in Vain isn't part of the album bundle as it was released for $2 separately well before the album release. Train in Vain also doesn't appear on the actual album notes (it was on the actual album but was added too late to be noted).
Couch Gag: The "Press Start" screen in Rock Band 3 has a billboard on one of the buildings comprised of the album covers of two on-disc songs, randomized each time you start the game.
Cover Version: A few songs from the first game, and some DLC from that era; averted from now on, as Harmonix now only works with acquiring and charting masters. Professionally-performed covers, such as The Muffs' "Kids in America" (originally by Kim Wilde), Alien Ant Farm's "Smooth Criminal", and Social Distortion's "Ring of Fire" (please note that the original is available as well), are exceptions. The last in-house cover version for the series was "Beetlebum" by blur, released in the now-distant May 20, 2008. Which means five years without a cover.
Mostly averted by the Rock Band Network, where covers of public domain songs are allowed, but only if it's not a cover of an existing arrangement. This allows for classical pieces as done by Paul Henry Smith & The Fauxharmonic Orchestra, The Itsy-Bitsy Spider, and more. One exception to this arrangement—sort of—is Jerry Naylor, who covered Buddy Holly & The Crickets' Not Fade Away, since Jerry Naylor was a vocalist for The Crickets. His cover of Real Wild Child is also available, although technically the Crickets' version was also a cover. (Further adding to the confusion: Everlife's cover of Real Wild Child is also available on Lego Rock Band.)
Damn You, Muscle Memory: Sight-reading Megadeth's Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? album on Rock Band 2 on Guitar-Expert. You will end up conditioning yourself to use overdrive the second blue comes down the highway. Then you'll hit "Bad Omen"'s second solo and full-combo it. And then you'll hit "Bad Omen"'s Third Solo and fail because you wasted your overdrive on the laughably easy second solo.
This also screwed up a lot of Guitar Hero 2 players when "Hangar 18" came out for Rock Band; the RB chart is quite different from the GH 2 version.
If you're left handed, but play guitar right handed due to your more dexterous left hand, you'll probably be playing keyboard with your left hand. There is no lefty flip option for keyboard. You're probably going to try to play green notes with your index finger and orange notes with your pinky, even though you will want to do the opposite.
When doing non-Pro keyboard, though, the 5 leftmost keys can be used instead of the colored ones for lefties.
Switch from guitar to keyboard causes this in any combination, really, mainly because you have to use five fingers rather than four.
Can also be inverted. The player can experience moments where he/she nails a difficult section perfectly and thinks "how did I just do that?" That's your muscle memory helping you out.
Difficult but Awesome: Using the bottom frets on a Fender Stratocaster controller during guitar solos. During a guitar solo, you can hit the notes using the buttons on the bottom of the guitar controller without needing to strum. However, because the game counts each time you hit a button on the bottom fretboard during a solo as a strum and penalizes you more for strumming when there isn't a note than for missing a note, you'll likely do worse using these buttons than you would using the top buttons and the strum bar, at least the first time you try it. HOWEVER, with practice, you can use these buttons to great effect during certain difficult solos. What makes this technique so effective is that you can use both of your hands to hit notes, whereas you would otherwise only be able to use your non-dominant hand to hit notes.
One example of where this technique is useful is the solo in Disturbed's "Stricken", during the part where you must alternate between green notes and other notes. The notes go by so quickly it can be hard to hit them with just one hand. However, you can hold the green button on the top fretboard and use the bottom one to hit the other notes.
Joe Satriani's "Surfing With the Alien" features some of the fastest trills in the series, but since the vast majority of them alternate between orange and a different note, you can hold down the other note on the top fretboard and mash away on the orange button on the bottom fretboard (using two fingers is recommended) to hit those trills.
An even MORE difficult technique is to hold ORANGE down on the shredboard and tap madly at the other note. It seems like it shouldn't work, but it does.
The infamous Solo 2 (also known as the Surf Solo) in "Satch Boogie" is another place where you can use this technique to great effect by holding down the green button on the upper fretboard using your other hand to hit the other notes on the bottom fretboard. You may need to cross your arms so you can use your regular fret hand (your more dextrous hand) on the bottom fretboard, where you will be hitting the majority of the notes, but the song has a long sustained note (as the final note of a Overdrive phrase no less) before Solo 2, giving you time to do just that and also start the section with a full overdrive gauge.
Another place where holding down on the green fret is more or less necessary is the intro to Thunderstruck on the AC/DC Track Pack - but if you imported the song to Rock Band 2 instead of playing it on the Track Pack disc itself, you'll be pleasantly surprised to find that the notechart has been changed from all-tapping to only being able to tap the green notes, forcing you to keep strumming while you hold your thumb over the green fret.
Difficulty By Region: For a reason that no one has been able to figure out, fast strumming parts are easier to hit in the PAL version of the game than in the NTSC version. As a result, pretty much any song with 13+ notes per second strumming has never been Full Comboed by someone playing the NTSC version of the game.
This was finally fixed with the retroactive tweaks to tremolo strumming in Rock Band 3.
Difficulty Spike: Moving from Medium to Hard on guitar or drums. Guitar charts start including the orange fret, meaning that you have to start moving your hands around instead of having your four fingers sit on green, red, yellow, and blue all the time. On drums, the bass pedal finds itself on the off-beats more often, forcing some extra limb independence out of players, and that's not taking into account the presence of drumrolls and fills with much more notes than one would see in a Medium chart. Moving to Expert is even worse, since the number of notes charted in Hard modes tends to be reduced until a certain standard of reduced difficulty is reached, while Expert is the song in all it's difficult glory. Expect to be murdered by the guitar solos.
Moving from Medium to Hard in pro guitar has an equally difficult curve. Medium mostly has you doing not much more than calm streams of two finger power chords which are easily voiced as 0-2, 7-9, 5-7, whereas Hard starts throwing relentless walls of three finger chords, arpeggios, and even barre chords at you.
For bassists, the first real difficulty spike came on the day that "Hysteria" was released as Downloadable Content (or packaged with the game in Europe) as the first song to be released for the platform with a genuinely difficult bass chart.
Starting with Rock Band 3 and with all DLC since around June 2010, songs are required to use all buttons/pads on the various instruments at all difficulties if that button/pad is used in expert. It will still be fewer notes for the player to hit, but this helps with the hand position aspects.
Of course, in reverse, the introduction of Pro mode will likely find many Expert players dropping back to Easy Pro mode to learn how to acually play a stringed instrument.
Remember beatmania? Remember how many songs have a very difficult part right at the end? Well, I present you: Through The Fire And Flames Expert PRO Guitar ending. The end of the song is even harder on basic guitar. Due to the way tapping solos work on pro (no need to strum at all), and the fact that the tapping solo on pro is "anchor 3rd fret and tap 10th and 6th", it's far easier, as on basic, the solo is "miss a note, you're done, you have to strum to start up again", not to mention the fact that it's anchoring the red fret then tapping the orange, blue and yellow frets.
Some song\instrument combinations have a large spike from one difficulty level to the next. For example Visions on Hard Guitar is much, much harder than Visions on Medium Guitar.
Smaller example: Brainpower by Freezepop on Guitar (Expert). Most of the song is only two different fairly easy riffs - except for one part right after the first chorus. Out of nowhere, there's a One-esque mini-solo. Not difficult for highly experienced players since it's only fast and not across weird frets (it's just OBYOBYOBY over and over again), but playing the song for the first time, especially for less experienced players, is hilarious.
Does Not Like Shoes: The Duke of Gravity in Rock Band 3. Your own created characters can be this in any of the games if you choose.
Double Play: Not officially supported, but the game drops a lot of hints about using a mic with another controller. There are also Youtube videos of people doing all 4 at once using modified controllers.
At least one person has Full Comboed Rock Band 2 (considered the hardest game in the series) playing guitar and singing at the same time.
Downloadable Content: If each song is one pound, there's tons of it. With RBN, it became possible for music copyright owners to add and sell their own (though only 30% of the profit would go to the music- and chart-makers).
Easier Than Easy: Super Easy in Lego Rock Band. No fret-work on guitar, no worrying about what drum you're hitting on drums, and no pitch detection on vocals.
Earn Your Fun: Averted in Rock Band 3, which unlocks every song from the start (though there are still clothes and instruments to unlock). The Beatles, Green Day, and Lego games also have most songs unlocked from the beginning. Played straight in the first two games, where the majority of songs are locked from the start, and can only be earned by playing the Tour mode, which can be tedious compared to Quickplay.
The player can input a cheat code to unlock on-disc songs in the first two games; however, this disables saving and achievements.
Easy-Mode Mockery: In the first game, Easy Mode prevents you from unlocking the last sets of songs on the Easy career tour. The multiplayer Band World Tour mode takes this further: after a certain point, the Easy difficulty is locked out, forcing everyone to play at least on Medium.
Rock Band 2 continues the tradition. If certain songs are in your setlist in tour mode, Easy difficulty is locked out. On some late single-song gigs, Easy and Medium difficulty gets locked out, forcing everyone that was on Medium to jump to Hard.
The Beatles: Rock Band has a subtle form of this. If you select Easy as your difficulty, or if you press the select the Back, Select, or - button No-Fail mode is on.
Green Day stopped being subtle with that, and openly admitted that No Fail Mode was on if you picked Easy.
Epic Rocking: RB3 lets you filter by duration, including the category "Neverending Epic Songs" (which clock in at over 9 minutes).
Just giving some examples, we have "Foreplay/Long Time", "Won't Get Fooled Again" and "Green Grass and High Tides" in the first game; "Panic Attack" in the second; "Jailbreak", "High Voltage" and "Let There Be Rock" in the AC/DC Live pack; "Homecoming" and "Jesus of Suburbia" in Green Day; and "Free Bird" and "Roundabout" in the third.
Somewhat averted pre-Rock Band 3 - if you picked Green Grass and High Tides solo vocals, you get a version with shorter solos (but the same number of tambourine notes), and with Foreplay/Long Time, the game skips Foreplay.
But completely played straight on the Wii version. Instead of shorter versions, you play the full song. This actually allows Wii players to get higher scores on Foreplay/Long Time (the tamborine notes during Foreplay are absent on the other versions).
And now, we have 2112 from Rush. The whole twenty minute version.
Expansion Pack / Mission Pack Sequel: The Track Packs, which are largely intended for players without access to online who want to play a sampling of the songs available for downloadable purchase. These can be turned into Old Save Bonuses with an included code.
Expy: Several of the prefabs/session artists from Rock Band 1 and 2 are dead ringers for classic Guitar Hero characters like Clive Winston and Judy Nails.
Fake Difficulty: The drummers are usually the ones directly affected, but vocalists also have it bad sometimes. In Rock Band 1 and 2, when a song includes a harmony, with two vocal tracks sung at different pitches, Harmonix charts one of them for the vocals and penalizes you if you sing the other one, since you are technically singing the wrong pitch. This is fine in most cases, but sometimes they chart the quieter, less audible pitch as the pitch at which you need to sing, rather than the one everyone knows and will try to sing. "B.Y.O.B.", "New", and "Painkiller" are particularly egregious examples of this. But really, drummers do have it worse...
They can only activate overdrive at predetermined points in the song, which reduces the number of notes they can hit. Yes, this means two people can "Full-Combo" a song with different numbers of notes hit.
There are no such points during a Drum Solo in Rock Band 2. Subverted here since all the (marked) drum solos are actually noticeably easy except for the opening one in Painkiller, where outside of battle of the bands, you will not have overdrive there to begin with. This particular kind of Fake Difficulty is played straight, however, with The Jimi Hendrix Experience's "If 6 Were 9," a DLC song which has an exceedingly difficult drum solo whose challenging part doesn't start until a good way into the solo, long after your overdrive would have run out if you activated it before the solo started.
There is only one bass pedal. double-bass doesn't work well on any Rock Band kit (ESPECIALLY the ION Rockers). Attempts to full-combo some of the bass-heavy songs (such as "Conquer All", which might as well have been played by a four-legged drummer) are doomed to failure.
ION Rocker owners finally have a means for double-bass. Sure, it's $60, but it actually WORKS compared to other methods such as headphone-splitters and so forth, which only work for the standard drums and only if one bass pedal is being pressed down at a time [due to how RB drums handle bass kick input].
For some time, an official splitter was available for the standard drum kit. This kit also included an extra pedal but required a AAA battery to operate. As of Rock Band 3, a second bass pedal can be plugged into the heretofore-unused unmarked plug on the back of the drum kit to act as a second bass pedal. (It can also be set to work as a hi-hat pedal while freestyling, but a hi-hat pedal has no gameplay function.)
Some songs are very awkwardly charted (see Painkiller again, especially when comparing it to the Guitar Hero Van Halen chart which shows that 3 out of every 4 kicks were charted in RB 2), and others reverse Red and Yellow's normal assignments as closed Hi-Hat and Snare, to the dismay of many people playing with the ION rockers.
Songs with reversed red and yellow are actually charted like that to AVERT Fake Difficulty. A real kit has the hi-hat to the left (if you're right handed) of the snare, and doing a pattern like Run to the Hills or Everlong with a constant roll on the hi-hat means that both hands are usually to the left of the snare, with one going to the right to hit the snare. If the red and yellow weren't reversed, you'd have to lead with your weak hand, making any song with that kind of pattern stupidly difficult and awkward.
And yet this makes it much more evident on songs that place similar hi-hat runs on the yellow pad. Additionally, anyone with an ION Rocker more likely than not has the yellow cymbal positioned to the left or above the red snare pad so that they can do such patterns on a whim. Rock Band 3's Pro Mode ignores the so-called "Disco Flip" if a yellow cymbal is present, keeping the hi-hat (and hi tom) on yellow instead of allowing it to be on red.
You are penalized more for missing a Kick Bass note or a snare note than any other note (including when the hi-hat and snare are flipped like Run to the Hills and Everlong). "Miss" includes actually missing the note in addition to playing a non-existent note. (incidentally enough, knowledge of this actually makes Visionsa lot easier to manage.)
Additionally, if you accidentally hit one note out of order in a pair of quick non-simultaneous notes on different surfaces, you get penalized for missing the first of the two. This does get carried over to Guitar Hero when they implement drums, too.
On this tangent, Solo Tapping on Guitar also has this bit of fake difficulty. It's probably easier to illustrate the point than to explain it, so let's assume you have a yellow note in a solo. If you tap blue or orange on the shredboard (or have a shredboard fret held down when you press blue or orange on the lower frets), it counts as a miss and combo break. Fair enough. If you tap Green or Red, which are BELOW Yellow, it ALSO counts as a miss and combo break, even if there is a smaller (HOPO) green or red note immediately after the yellow note. Upside? you don't HAVE to release higher frets for single-fret notes during solos when tapping them. Oh, and neither the game nor the manual ever tells you any of this, making some songs much harder than they should be (Especially those with fast multi-fret solos - Constant Motion and Satch Boogie stand out in this respect, as neither one's fast solo runs can be Overdrive-bluffed)
Hammer Smashed Face features many sections with double bass. During most of those sections, Harmonix did their usual thing where they only map every other kick-pedal hit since players are only using one pedal, rather than two. During some of the choruses, the double bass in the actual song halves in frequency, meaning there should theoretically be half as many kick-pedal notes to hit in those sections. However, Harmonix mapped those kick-peddle hits identically to the way they mapped them in the verses, regardless of the reduced frequency. As such, during those sections, you need to use one bass pedal when Cannibal Corpse's drummer used two pedals.
To clarify, during the verse double-bass parts, there are two kick-pedal sounds per beat in the actual song, and one kick-pedal note per beat on the in-game drum-track, per usual. During the chorus double-base parts, there is one kick-pedal sound per beat in the actual song, and one kick-pedal note per beat on the in-game track, when there should be one every two beats.
The possible justification is that the player shows he can hit the kick-pedal that quickly during the verses, so why not map it that way during the choruses? An immediate rebuttal would be that, given the choice, most real drummers would want two pedals to hit a double bass part as quick as the one in the chorus.
Another Way To Die also has double bass charted, although it's justified there, as Mike Wengren (Disturbed's drummer) rarely uses both feet on kick bass in the studio, only in live performances. So that "double-bass run" in the chorus (which happens to be the fastest continuous steady run of kicks in standard Rock Band 2 DLC)? One foot.
Bornholm's "Where The Light Was Born (Thule Ultima A Sole Nomen Habens)" features two sections where every kick-pedal hit is charted in a part where the drummer clearly used double-bass. That said, if you aren't good enough to get through those parts with one kick pedal, you probably don't have the stamina needed to survive the middle of the song.
And lastly, Harmonix rarely charts closed hi-hat and open hi-hat notes on the same lane, typically using yellow for closed and blue for open. One of the FEW times the two are charted accurately is on the cover version of Run To The Hills on Rock Band 1.
Since there's no hi-hat pedal, they instead set up the simulated drum kit to have one perpetually closed hi-hat and one perpetually open one. Not really something a drummer would do, but that's the reasoning. There is an adapter for actual e-drum kits that lets you chart closed and open hi-hats differently, so you can actually do it properly, and there were talks about a pedal and adapter for the stock controllers to do the same.
Tremolo picking is absolutely ridiculous. For some reason, when strumming gets really fast, the game has a chance of dropping notes, making songs with fast strumming (Green Grass and High Tides, East Jesus Nowhere, My Last Words, Crawl, Lazy Eye (basically anything with ~13+ notes per second strumming)) much more difficult than they should be. Add the dropped strums to the fact that you need to strum exactly the right number of notes, and it's a recipe for throwing the guitar against the wall.
Rock Band 3, however, should alleviate some (but not all) of the above with subtle changes to how some trills (see Crazy Train), drum rolls (Lasso), and tremolo strumming parts (25 or 6 to 4). Even unmarked tremolo picking (Green Grass And High Tides) gets a fix, due to fixing the aforementioned bug of dropping notes. You get a bonus for doing them perfectly, but being slightly off shouldn't kill you anymore. Unfortunately, with the exception of unmarked tremolo picking, the changes are not retroactive since they require certain notes not used in pre-RB 3 charts.
However, Harmonix is looking at updating a handful of the older songs to add the RB3 features to them. Seems like you'll be buying them all over again when they do though. Additionally, they also put in a few more tweaks that DO affect tremolo strumming across the board and makes them slightly easier. (specifically, both NTSC and PAL handle unmarked tremolo picking in Rock Band 3 the way the PAL version of Rock Band 2 did)
Here's one from Rock Band Blitz. The game heavily implies that instruments with a higher difficulty tend to have more notes. For the most part, this is true... when referring the guitar or bass. You see, the gems in Blitz are determined by how the instruments are played (only drum snares, toms, and kicks are counted, vocal gems are determined by pitch change). This means that even though an instrument may have a very high difficulty, it may not have many notes. This is especially noticeable when playing drum songs that are given their hard difficulty from cymbals (Bad Reputation) or from vocals having long-winded parts (Painkiller).
However, this also counts as an inversion too. Instruments with low difficulty may have many notes, for the same reason as the above. Low-tiered vocal songs can have plenty of notes as long as the pitch keeps varying and guitar/bass/key just need a constant stream notes playing.
Five-Man Band: With the addition of keyboard in Rock Band 3, you can now make your own.
Except that you can only have four members on stage at a time. Keys will replace either bass or guitar (unless you turn on All Instruments Mode).
Subverted in the DS version, where your guitarist alternates between guitar and keyboard during songs that have keyboard parts.
Flawless Victory: Though not officially recognized by the game (but acknowledged once per Expert-level instrument per song by the metagame; for example, two Full Combos of Eye of the Tiger on drums counts as one Full Combo, but one on guitar and another on drums counts as two Full Combos, one in each instrument category), a lot of people try for Full Combos of songs (100% accuracy without hitting any nonexistent notes).
Note that getting a Full Combo is not the same as maximizing your score. To do that, you have to know exactly when to deploy overdrive.
The opening video for RB3 shows the car from the opening videos of the first two games, way off in the distance.
If you have enough time to pay attention to the sides of the road of Blitz, you'll see the car and numerous other elements from the previous games and Harmonix in general (neon signs from RB3 menu screens, a marquee about the Eric Pope movie, etc.)
Game-Breaking Bug: Hardware Edition: RB's drum pedal is cheap plastic. Get too enthusiastic on it and it'll snap.
If you play on Expert, you can expect to go through them until you get a replacement.
However, the Limited Edition of The Beatles: Rock Band included a metal kick pedal for the drums.
The Rock Band 2 drums also put a metal plate on the pedal.
PS3 owners who tried to export Rock Band 2 at Rock Band 3's launch ended up with the wrong export key, hope you left your email with them to get a fixed key.
The last two DLC released for Unplugged, Sex Type Thing and Constant Motion, have the potential to delete the rest of your DLC if you download them. Buyer beware, indeed.
Game Mod: Mostly hardware adjustments for the drums. Less necessary now that better instrument controllers are available, but sites like MegaPedal offer aluminum replacements, and then there is the more luxurious designs, like an actual kick pedal augmented with magnetic contacts...
In a somewhat more traditional example, the Rock Band Network will allow users to submit their own songs for review to be made available for downloadable purchase. This requires a multitrack master of the recording and for the user to chart the song's notes himself. Oh, and the rights to do so, which can be harder than actually charting the song...
"Jukebox" mode. Turn off the crowd sounds, enable no-fail and performance modes, and select vocals. Then just pick any song that you would like to listen to without fear of the game punting you out for losing.
Real musicians can buy versions of popular songs with their instrument track stripped out, so that they can practice listening for the other instruments' cues. Doing this with Rock Band using the Jukebox method above (just "play" as the instrument you're using in real life) is much, much cheaper.
Just don't forget to change your difficulty and continuing just before the song begins, or else your zero-point score will be saved. Plus, doing this will prevent the crowd from booing you during the song (as your crowd meter will decrease, inevitably - not to mention that ominous red flashing around the edges of the screen), which really ruins the experience.
The Wii version of RB 2 is compatible with Rawk SD, a bit of homebrew that lets people import songs from any Rock Band or Guitar Hero game as well as play fan-made songs. Considered a killer app.
Custom songs are now available for Rock Band 3. There's a dedicated community bringing songs that are not in the official catalog, which includes tracks exclusive to the Guitar Hero series (especially from World Tour on), tracks from prior games that were previously unexportable ("Enter Sandman", "Battery" and "Paranoid" in RB 3? Yes please!), and total customs, whose multitracks may or may not be available on the net (and yes, that does include Led Zeppelin).
Grand Finale: The final weekly downloadable song is Don McLean's "American Pie"You know "The day the music died."
Greatest Hits Album: Bob Marley's Legend, No Doubt's The Singles 1992-2003, and Bon Jovi's Greatest Hits compilations were released as DLC, as were large packs from The Who, Iron Maiden, Queen, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and The Doors.
Guide Dang It: A minor example, but it still counts. There is one cutscene in 3 which can only be viewed if you finish a setlist (in any mode) with at least two individually-scored members (Harmony Vocals counts as 1 person), but there's no indication of it anywhere, making players who have beaten the game with gold ratings in all Road Challenges wonder why there's still one ??? in Band History.
One specific song in 3, Jerry Was a Racecar Driver, is considered by many to be the hardest song on pro bass in the game due to extremely awkward hand movements required in the verse. However, there is absolutely no need to strum any notes in the verse; the entire verse can be tapped. This is not hinted at in-game at all.
Hand Wave: Harmonix's explanation for why genres other than rock (the aforementioned country and funk) are in the game: "Rock Band" refers to the instrumental setup of the band, not the genre of music it plays.
Harder Than Hard: Pro Mode, on any instrument, especially on Expert. Pro Mode requires drummers to differentiate between cymbals and toms, keyboardists have to use the entire two-octave range on the keyboard, and guitarists and bassists have to essentially play a real-live guitar to the tune of the song. Just playing anything in the first place more or less demands players to practice well in advance, and even on Warmup tier songs keyboardists are running the risk of getting instant carpal tunnel syndrome. Being able to actually pull it off, though, is beyond satisfying, and the muscle memory carries over to real-life instruments, so if you can play these songs on Pro Expert, you can pretty much play them for real.
Guitar on Keyboard. Basically, we take the 5-lane chart, strip out all the hammer-ons and pull-offs and make you press the key down for EACH INDIVIDUAL GEM in the chart.
Actually, some guitar parts are easier on the keyboard than guitar, because some things are easier to do with your fingers pointing down than pointing up (like the crazy solo part in Freebird). Other songs that have a lot of strumming on the same note are significantly harder, though, like Beast and the Harlot (still doable though).
Speaking of keyboards... Bass on the keyboard is easy enough. Try Thrasher, or BYOB, or any song with fast strumming. Have fun trying to keep combo!
100% Completion: Aside from getting all achievements/trophies (for 360/PS3) or all stars in Tour Mode (the closest to an official 100% completion in the game), many players strive to pass, 4-star, 5-star, gold star, or full combo an entire game (meaning all the on-disc songs for that game) on one instrument. Rock Band 2, being the most difficult, seems to get the most of this, with at least one person having Full Comboed the entire game playing two instruments at once. No one person has yet Full Comboed the game on all instrumentsnote at least not entirely on a Rock Band 2 disc, though Darth Fizz of Score Hero got Visions Bass in Rock Band 3, though at least one person has managed 3 out of 4.
And in RB3, there is a new band goal to hit every note in the 83 on-disc songs in the game. All of them. Thankfully, it only actually requires it be done on one chart per song.
To be fair, the way you play the plastic guitar controller really has nothing to do with how you play an actual guitar. Vocalists and drummers survive a bit better.
Guitar in the game probably correlates better with playing piano/keyboard, since the feeling of the buttons makes it more like playing keyboard with your hand at an odd angle than playing guitar.
Also, in defense of Jonathan Coulton, his "Backing Band" there was an All-Star grouping of internet luminaries Leo Laporte, Veronica Belmont, and Merlin Mann, none of which are professional musicians. The ones that barely got through were Leo and Merlin, with Jonathan and Veronica having to save them.
Though, Merlin did play real guitar in a real rock band, Bacon Ray, in the late 90s and early 00s... not drums.
I Know Mortal Kombat: The game guitar won't help much for real guitar. Also, even on Expert, one can be partially off-key with their vocals, and the octave doesn't matter at all.
Quite possibly averted with the drums, especially if you can play on expert. Don't expect it to help much beyond a primer for actual drums, but that's a start.
Interestingly, the Rock Band website is starting a series of articles intended to teach people how to play real life instruments. As well as a section full of links to online music courses at the Berklee College of Music.
What with the Pro mode to be introduced with RB3...
The biggest difference between playing Rock Band and a real instrument, is that while Pro Mode can help to teach you how to sightread like a boss, it won't teach you actual musical theory. It's the difference between being able to read and pronounce a word, and knowing what that word means.
Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Averted and played straight. Each player has the option between Easy, Medium, Hard, and Expert, but the individual songs are rated as well (both with an overall Band rating and with individual instrument ratings), using these names: Warmup (zero points), Apprentice (one point), Solid (two points), Moderate (three), Challenging (four), Nightmare (five) and finally, Impossible (the infamous devil heads).
The first game had two more difficulty ratings, so as to divide their 45 main songs equally among them: Skilled (between Moderate and Challenging) and Blistering (between Challenging and Nightmare).
And with Rock Band 3, you can now also choose between normal and Pro modes with all of the above, effectively creating a three-dimensional matrix of difficulty levels which some of the game's goals are named after (e.g. Nightmare Medium Pro Guitar).
Avenged Sevenfold's song "Afterlife" has one particularly painful one: after the guitar solo, the singer has to hold a scream note for twenty-five seconds. Hope you took a really deep breath!
Instrumentals: Introduced to the franchise with Rush's "YYZ", with many released via the DLC and RBN since then. Vocalists in the band prevent these songs from being accessed at all, except in RB3 if these songs are part of a setlist.
In another form of this, "The End" by Pearl Jam can't be played if you have a drummer.
As of Feb. 9th, 2010, there is now a song on the platform with no guitar track: Megadeth's "Dawn Patrol". Several songs have followed since then.
This form was averted with The White Stripes tracks - although they don't have a bassist, the rhythm guitar was charted to the bass line (similar charting practices have happened with songs by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who also don't have a bassist). However, one song from the second pack (Fell in Love With A Girl) doesn't have a bass line charted, so now all four instruments have at least one song without it.
The Rock Band Network brings us a few interesting examples: aside from the typical instrumentals that lack vocals, there's "Buster Voodoo" by Rodrigo y Gabriela, which has only a guitar and bass part (though the bass is really the rhythm guitar), "Upstream" by Cory Wong, which is only a guitar part, and several classical selections with only keys.
Also included is a drums only song called (funnily enough), "Drum Exercises for the Sufficiently Masochistic" by Shylo Elliott. Somewhat ironically, the song isn't all that hard compared to some of the other DLC songs.
In an unusual example for the series, "Positive Force" and "Pressure Cooker" from VVVVVV are available on RBN (the former being 360-exclusive.) Yes, that's right, video game music. Songs from Super Meat Boy and other games have followed.
Inverted with Green Day: Rock Band. The song "Song of the Century" only contains vocals, whereas "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" only has a drum part missing.
Interface Screw: At two points during "The Killing Moon", the camera flashes a bright red fade-away. Unprepared players can easily misinterpret this as the "you're about to fail out" signal, especially if they're a) playing an unfamiliar instrument or b) haven't yet failed a song in RB3.
Irony: Rock Band 2 features a song called "Feel the Pain", which is a pretty easy song and won't make you feel any pain at all. Then there's "Painkiller", which is certain to make your entire band ache (even your vocalist), yet shares the name of a type of drug designed to get rid of pain.
Larynx Dissonance: Happens whenever the on-screen singer's gender doesn't match that of the original artist, generally with hilarious results. There's also Visions, where the vocals consist of low, guttural growling, but by default the game will assign a female singer for the song...because the original singer also happens to be female.
Last Lousy Point: Rock Band 3 has hundreds of challenges to clear, including 4 "Epic Rock Band 3 Goals" 3 of which concern the 83 songs on the disc, while the other 1 is the total score accross all songs (On Disc, Imports, and DLC). The last one is "Obsessive compulsive" and it's considered to be a true test of dedication. What it means is that you need to be flawless on every song on disc in the game. However it's not really all it's cracked up to be, it just means you have to hit 100% of the notes in every song in the game on Expert. Still very hard, but any instrument can be used (including vocals). Compare that to 5 starring every song on Pro Guitar, which is undoubtedly going to be achieved by less people, even accounting for the % of people who have a Pro Guitar to play on.
Last Lousy Achievement/Trophy: It's the Final Countdown! Specifically, the achievement in Lego Rock Band that expects you to 100% the guitar solo of The Final Countdown on Expert). The other games have tough achievements (like the Bladder of Steel), but in terms of pure skill, this is the one that stands out compared to the rest of the trophies in that game.
And if you imported LEGO Rock Band into RB3, it's reincarnated as one of the many goals.
Rock Band 2 shipped with a special edition bundle with enhanced instrument controllers, including a guitar controller with much more quiet fret buttons and a camera and microphone to make calibration easier, and a drum kit with a sturdier kick pedal.
The Beatles: Rock Band had a special edition bundle with Beatle-themed instruments, including a guitar shaped like Paul McCartney's Höfner_500/1 bass, with instrument peripherals modelled after John Lennon's Rickenbacker 325 and George Harrison's Gretsch Duo Jet sold separately. The game is also sold as a Singstar bundle with two microphones (for the PS3 only), as well as a Value Bundle with original Rock Band controllers.
Green Day: Rock Band was released in the States as both a standard edition as well as a 'Plus' edition at $10 extra, which allows players to transfer all the songs in the game to other Rock Band titles for free, and comes with all previously released Green DayDownloadable Content.
Challenge rewards can only be obtained one time per band. While the "impossible [instrument] challenges" clearly show what the costumes look like (before coloring), the "Impossible Marathon, part 2" challenge has a reward of ONE (not a set. ONE) "crazy instrument" for each active player, corresponding to whatever instrument that player cleared Painkiller with. In order to get all 4 crazy instruments on one character, the entire challenge ladder must be gone through four times, each one in a different band. The amount of time one such run takes is comparable to the time it takes to clear Endless Setlist II.
Remedied in Rock Band 3 - unlock once, use on every character you want for that profile.
There are a couple of songs that were pulled from the store due to copyright\renewal issues. You can still play and redownload them, but if you haven't bought them, they're gone.
Luck-Based Mission: Yeah, remember all that hard DLC you downloaded? You know all those songs you exported from Rock Band 1 into Rock Band 2? THEY CAN SHOW UP IN MYSTERY SETLISTS FROM THE START.
However, at least in RB2, you could often predict when a certain song from the on-disc content would appear. In many cases, notably "Say It Ain't So", the song would be repeated twice in the same list. Lampshaded by Harmonix in their Rock Band: The Board Game April Fool's video.
Rock Band 3 actually lets you do something about both this and having "Say It Ain't So" appear constantly by the means of rating songs on a "5-lighter" scale. Higher-rated songs have a higher chance of appearing when a random song is picked by the game. This is very important, as not only are Rock Band 1 and 2 songs exportable to Rock Band 3 (and thus can appear in random setlists), ALL DLC, including Rock Band Network DLC, can also appear in random setlists in Rock Band 3, so unless you like the idea of possibly having Death Quota for Purification as your first random song, you might want to go through your setlist and 1-lighter all the songs you know you can't pass.
Marathon Boss: "Green Grass and High Tides" by The Outlaws, which was featured in the original Rock Band, was almost ten minutes long. "The Camera Eye" by Rush, a song available in the DLC store, clocks in at eleven minutes long, but that doesn't even compare to The Who's "The Who Super Bowl S-Mashup", another DLC song, which features multiple The Who songs played back-to-back and is about fifteen minutes long. Credence Clearwater Revivial's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" has the longest guitar solo of all collectively released tracks, taking up most of the 9+ minute song.
The AC/DC Live Track Pack presents us with "Jailbreak", which clocks in at almost 12 minutes - though much of the song is a heavily padded Subdued Section, where Angus plays a few licks, two solos, and there's even one drum solo by Chris Slade (AC/DC's drummer at the time). You only know it's about to end when you hear "Heartbeats...". "High Voltage" (9 minutes, 19 seconds) suffers from the same padding problem due to Brian Johnson's interactions with the crowd. "Let There Be Rock", on the other hand (little over 9 and a half minutes), gives us a long-winding final solo and a BRE in which you can easily rack up more than 50k, making the studio version in RB 2 feel like "Hello There" in comparison.
And now, for your DLC pleasure, "Do You Feel Like We Do (Live)" by Peter Frampton. At 13:46, it's one of (if not the) longest songs in the game, and fairly difficult on everything but vocals and bass. Good luck.
Released December 31st 2011: 2112. Any of the three pieces qualify, but if the pack is bought (Unless you're on the Wii), it's also available as one twenty minute track.
Marathon Level: The Endless Setlist (and the Endless Setlist II and III). They are comprised of every song in their respective game, after all.
This is then beaten by the Infinite Decade challenges in Challenge Mode - which cap out at 99 songs (the cap for setlists) and always use the hardest (band-rated) available songs for the decade from the disc AND your DLC. The catch? if you've already done the challenge once, you cannot quit-and-save in the middle of the challenge on subsequent plays.
Rock Band 3 lets you create and save your own setlists, up to 100 songs. 3's Party shuffle will make a setlist with all of your songs, which will take a few hours with the base disc, and for some particularly big spenders would mean solid days of gameplay without sleeping.
Melismatic Vocals: Represented by sloped lines in the vocals charts; songs with lots of these tend to be more fun to play.
It's also an incredibly easy way to get Awesomes on many phrases: singing an otherwise long, straight note like this somehow makes the little clock fill faster.
Mercy Rewarded: Songs with complex drum beats can sometimes be made easier by you not hitting all of the notes, instead dropping some from your pattern. Due to how the game weighs red notes and kick bass on drums, this typically involves hitting Red and Orange and the occasional cymbal hit. Your score will obviously suffer, since your combo will be broken frequently, but this can make a song that you just can't beat easy enough to beat, and any score is better than no score. Usually this is only something you can do for a small amount of time as a break, as your rock meter will slowly fall as you do this, but "Blinded by Fear" can be beaten with intelligent use of overdrive without ever needing to hit every yellow or blue note, instead hitting every other one. This got nerfed big-time in Rock Band 3, where making a mistake (outside of Pro Guitar/Bass) does just a smidgen more damage to you... and each correctly-hit note adds less to your health meter than in Rock Band 2.
The Pro Guitar's Rock / health meter is much more forgiving than in the regular five button mode. As long as you don't waste it by actively missing notes, you can easily finish a song with 50-60%, or even less with carefully applied Star Power. If there's a certain chord that you just can't hit without throwing off your rhythm completely, just let it pass by and hit what you can.
Visions effectively demands this until you can get BOTH hands hitting green and red at the speed the chart wants. It's not uncommon to see people ignore green completely for the triplets.
Rock Band 3 changes the weights around to where it's closer to two out of every 5 notes with overdrive and 2 out of every 9 or so notes without. The exceptions are still the kick bass and snare notes for drums (still weighted heavily) and vocals in their entirety AS WELL AS the newly added Pro Guitar and Bass modes (which are weighted slightly less).
Metagame: There is the above mentioned Full Combos; many people seek a high FC count. Then there's the leaderboards — getting high scores on the leaderboards requires a tactic called "squeezing", requiring you to activate Overdrive off-rhythm (which means hitting a crash off-rhythm in the case of drums) to "squeeze" more notes under overdrive — that's right, playing off-rhythm in a rhythm game gives you a better score. Both of those are a game that exists next to, but differs greatly from, simply playing the songs. Moreover, before Rock Band 3, there was a glitch that let you hit gems hidden at the end of a fill by triggering OD early and then hitting the (hidden) gems on beat. All of this only has a small impact on your score though, so it only matters if you're playing perfectly otherwise.
Milking the Giant Cow: Any character acting as the lead singer while using the Metal-attitude responses tends to do this fairly frequently.
Misbegotten Multiplayer Mode: Averted... unless you try to have a guitarist, bassist, and keyboardist all in the same band in Rock Band 3. This requires "All Instruments Mode" which makes vocals (if present) essentially useless among other nuisances. The largest band without this mode is 6 players, comprised of 3 vocalists, a drummer, and 2 out of guitar, bass, and keys.
Also included in the game naturally: in the Endless Setlist III, "Whip It", which is very upbeat both in melody and lyrical tone, is immediately followed by "Killing Loneliness," which is the exact opposite.
Solely Xbox 360 if you want to take full advantage of the Rock Band Network, though. It's obvious which platform Harmonix prefers (or maybe it's just obvious which platform doesn't have an equivalent to XNA, the system that allows Xbox users to submit songs in the first place), even if people don't like to admit it.
Due to license agreements with Sony, the PS3 keyboard bundle for RB3 is not available in the NA region. Similarly, the Mustang Guitar won't be available for PS3 owners until late November (The Wii one will be available before the PS3 one). The X360 Pro guitar? Already available from some retailers. The Xbox 360 owners just get all the luck with regards to Rock Band. Also, the Wii version of the game lacks the ability to put custom art on... well, anything. You can pick one of a large number of preset images for band logos and tattoos, and makeup and facepaint are removed altogether.
Mission Pack Sequel: Just about every disc release for the series can be considered one, especially in light of all the improvements Rock Band 3 adds to the platform. In fact, Harmonix deliberately chose to break their annual release cycle so they could perfect everything for Rock Band 3.
As far as the numbered games go, Rock Band 2 can be considered a particularly blatant Mission Pack Sequel, for including almost all the content from the original game (specifically the custom clothes and stages, and even some of the events are copy-pasted with a small alteration), with a modest interface change to make browsing through song menus easier. The only noticeable changes in actual gameplay are the drummers being able to have 8 velocity-sensitive surfaces instead of 5 surfaces, the drummers can get solos now, and the bassist has a unique effect ("Distortion" which replaces "Echo")
Unless you're on the Wii. RB2 was the first time Wii owners got the chance to make custom characters or even select which premade character to play as; download individual DLC tracks of their choice which would then be incorporated into the general track library; make setlists; or have any choice in what venue to perform in.
Mythology Gag: The Beatles: Rock Band is full of this. The dreamscape for Yellow Submarine sticks the band in the outfits they wore in the film of the same name, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band appears to be performing in Pepperland, the dreamscape for Hello Goodbye references the promotional video for the song, and so on.
Even the regular version gets in on this a little. When playing Gorillaz' song "Clint Eastwood", lines sung by Del are sung by the virtual band's drummer instead of their singer, a reference to the song's music video. Plus, the colours go inverted, and your drummer is blue!
Nintendo Hard: Getting all the achievements\trophies in Lego Rock Band requires a great deal of skill, thanks mostly to The Final Countdown solo. The Beatles game has a few challenges to get 100%, on Expert, on some of the hardest charts of the game. In the case of guitar, you also need to do the hammer-ons\pull-offs properly; one strum where you don't need to and it's all a waste. The Green Day game is also like this.
The "Obsessive Compulsive" goal in 3, which requires you to full-combo every song in the game on Expert. Good luck.
The Beatles: Rock Band has an achievement for a perfect playing of Ringo's only drum solo in the band's career, just after the beginning of "The End". As if that's not bad enough, there's one for finishing all the Beatle Beats training tracks, the last of which is... THE DRUM SOLO FROM "THE END".
No One Gets Left Behind: Harmonix is working towards not only making every Rock Band 2 song exportable (which, as of the initial feature, isn't possible), but going back and securing the rights for the songs which were dismissed from the originalRock Band's exportation so that they can be available in the third game. Now that's dedication.
Rock Band 3 came out with a patch in November 2011 which finally made Black Hole Sun and Dani California (the Rock Band 1 tracks that previously could export to 2 but not 3) playable in that game, thus playing the trope straight.
The Harmonix team member band tracks from RB2 have been released as free tracks... unless you're on the Wii. Just like pretty much every other free song.
Also a game mechanic; if a bandmate fails, they can't play until they are saved, and the entire band's crowd meter will gradually deplete until someone saves them with Overdrive.
Rock Band 2's "Give it Away" and "Spoonman" were not exportable to Rock Band 3. But in the Rock Band Blitz setlist, they come back, and thanks to the fact that all of the Rock Band Blitz songs are exportable to Rock Band 3, guess which two Rock Band 2 songs are now playable in Rock Band 3?
Nobody Loves the Bassist: The original game had no solo mode for bass. A lot of players don't like to be the bassist (prompting realism jokes from reviewers) because it's usually much easier than guitar, and sometimes more repetitive since the game often merges together more than one guitar part into one high-variety chart, which can't be done with the bass in songs with just one bass part, and naturally bass solos are very rare in the game, not even being implemented until 3 (with no on-disc songs actually having one) despite drum solos existing in 2. The max multiplier for bass is 6x instead of the normal 4x, making it less forgiving of mistakes, which is good or bad depending on preference.
Old Save Bonus: In a way. Importing the songs from the first Rock Band (minus three) to be played in its sequel, as well as allowing all Rock Band Store and Track Pack downloads to be played in either game, is a tremendous value. At longest, players will only have to endure a brief "exclusivity" window for any given song to be made public DLC.
Just so everybody is perfectly clear on the matter, The Beatles does NOT feature this, as it is considered a completely stand-alone product from its brethren. Likely the price to pay to even have The Beatles in a music game.
On the other hand, you'll be able to get more Beatles tracks via DLC, so it's a double-edged sword.
Of course, Iron Maiden's "Run To The Hills" was released as master track DLC, thus helping to alleviate the problem of losing three of the best songs from the first game. Too bad it still lacks "Paranoid" and "Enter Sandman," however.
European players are forever cut off from playing Tokio Hotel's "Monsoon" in sequels to the first game. American players could purchase these European Bonus songs as DLC and play most of them in all games up to but not including Rock Band 3; these are to date the only DLC to not be playable in a newer game for licensing reasons.
Should European players somehow manage to get access to the US store (at least on the 360), they can get Monsoon from there; however, their exports of Hier Kommt Alex and Rock and Roll Star won't work, nor will the DLC versions.
Was somewhat fixed around the time of Blitz, when all the songs released only on the EU disk were finally released as DLC for that region. So you may not be able to export Monsoon, but you can rebuy it. Doesn't apply to Hier Kommt Alex and Rock and Roll Star, though.
Lego Rock Band allows all 45 of its songs to be exported via a one-time use code (included in the case on a separate, rather easily lost/stolen sheet, not on the manual itself) coupled with a $10 fee for the licensing. Green Day: RB has the same permission and cost, though pre-ordering or getting the more expensive Plus version eliminates the cost.
Of course, all songs released prior to Rock Band 3 will not immediately feature keyboard parts, harmonies, or Pro mode support (besides drums) within Rock Band 3, but there has been word HMX is seeking fan input on what past songs should be updated with these features.
One Game for the Price of Two: Played straight hardware-wise in that you need to buy instrument controllers to play the game, and there are a lot to buy; drums (optional cymbals), a keyboard, a USB microphone, and two distinct types of guitars. In the case of drums and keyboard, a real instrument can be used but requires the purchase of an adapter. So, unless you can get a good deal on old controllers, it's a costly game to have everything in (though "getting off the ground" simply requires a $20 copy of the game and any USB mic).
Inverted software-wise in that after you have these controllers, every disc is a full guitar game (plus bass charts), drum game, karaoke game, and, starting RB3, also a keyboard game and another entirely different guitar game (also plus bass charts); the value of the game itself is pretty good for any one of those five, except possibly keyboard which is sparse or not present on some songs. The other four can all be played in over 80 songs. Compare the first Guitar Hero five years ago by the same company, which was only a guitar game and had less than half the songs (which were covers). From that game to Rock Band 3, the chart count has risen from around 40 to around 600 (or from ~160 to ~2300 if split by difficulty).
Overly-Long Gag: Some songs have very long big rock endings, to the point where it goes from fun to boring to, "This is going to end, right?" "Iron Maiden (Live)" takes the cake, with a big rock ending that lasts a minute and twenty seconds. That's about a quarter of the song. Nearly every song from the AC/DC live track pack too.
You want a LONG Big Rock Ending? Try out "Let There Be Rock (Live)" from the AC/DC pack, with a Big Rock Ending lasting NEARLY TWO MINUTES, and is quite possible to rack up 50K of bonus points on one instrument (If you turn on no fail mode, you can 5* it on Easy Guitar by just playing the BRE, and the game will actually show 0% notes hit.). Unlike Iron Maiden (Live), the song itself is over 9 minutes long, making it 'somewhat' justified.
During the 56-second organ interlude of Won't Get Fooled Again, none of the band members onstage actually play anything. If you look carefully, occasionally your bass player will check hiswatch.
The vocalist checks their watch during the long "helloooooooooo" at the end of "Opening Band".
On the RBN, there's "I am S/H(im)e[r] as You am S/H(im)e[r] as You are Me and We am I and I are All Our Together -Our Collective Consciousness". The final part of the title even had to be cut.
A Game-Breaking Bug (thankfully patched) would delete your whole save file if you played a rock challenge that involved a band with a name of over 25 characters (e.g. The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets; counting spaces, that's 36 characters), and quit the challenge without completing it.
"My Name's Horatio, You Got Me, You Ain't Got Nobody Else, So Deal With It, And Love It" by Mega64 on the RBN.
Panty Shot: Since the game uses the same animations and camera angles whether your character has pants on or not, a girl in a short skirt or a Man in a Kilt WILL get an upskirt shot sooner or later. However, their underwear isn't rendered, so it might not strictly count.
The Practice Mode in RB3 has characters slouching regardless of their outfit.
Pause Abuse: In RB3, when the player pauses and unpauses in the middle of a song, the track scrolls back a few bars to help the player catch up after a pause, which can be abused to split up a really hard track into smaller, manageable sections. While this has never been outright fixed, the game was eventually patched so that players who pause often will have their scores nullified.
Performance Video: Every venue that doesn't feature a crowd (i.e. concert halls, nightclubs, pubs...) is this. In Rock Band 2, your band performs against one of four sets, from an all-white background to a 3-D laser show, while RB3 features trippy backgrounds which range from artsy stripes in dégradé to stardust and asteroids.
Polygon Suit Actor: David Bowie and Queen appear as playable performers in Lego Rock Band, flaunting their trademark mannerisms (Brian May of Queen explicitly demanded that his hairstyle be recreated as accurately as possible for his Lego avatar). Iggy Pop also appears as a host for the tutorial segments... shirtless, natch.
Lego Rock Band takes The Power of Rock and runs with it. Bonus levels let you destroy a skyscraper, cut down trees while being chased by a Securi T-Rex, and summon stormy skies simply by rocking hard. It's a LEGO world, after all...
"You know what would solve [arbitrary problem]? Rock!"
Although the inspired-by webcomic has it - to 12. You'll never read those "you lost x fans" screens the same way again. And those Battle of the Bands? They're to the death.
Power Up Letdown \ Dummied Out \ Missing Secret \ Urban Legend of Zelda: "Awesomeness Detection" in RB2 has now been officially confirmed by the lead designers to do absolutely nothing. Previously, speculation ran rampant on what it was supposed to do, ranging from narrowing the timing window down to nothing to sending hidden data to Harmonix.
A more legitimate Power Up Letdown would be Keys On Guitar mode. "Hooray", you think, after finally unlocking Keys On Guitar, "Now I can play the keyboard parts without having to buy the keyboard peripheral!" Sadly, the keyboard notecharts are frequently too complex to comfortably play on a guitar controller, and your playing doesn't count towards any of the game's keyboard-specific goals (well, technically, they do count, but they don't register as completed until you go back and play at least one song on an actual keyboard).
Pre-Order Bonus: Done occasionally, often in the form of preliminary access to downloadable content or special codes to unlock new in-game instruments. Thankfully, none of it stays exclusive to preorders (songs are eventually put in the RB Music Store, and instrument codes make their way onto Game FAQS or message boards quickly).
Rags to Riches: You get to see your band like this in 3, as you complete the Road Challenges. It's notable to watch the transition: you go from getting paid with only enough to buy a pizza to share to touring all the way to Japan.
Rank Inflation: Playing on Expert allows you to earn "gold stars" - five stars, except they're golden, and you can't get them on Easy, Medium, or Hard, so they're better. Originally, the score required for having gold stars was normalized across all songs on all instruments as the five-star cutoff plus half - and then it turned out that Vagiant's "Seven," on Expert Drums, was literally incapable of being gold starred due to there being no way to get those last few points. This eventually led to all gold star cutoffs being cut down a bit.
The difficulty levels for each instrument (and the band as a whole) are rated on a five-point scale, ranging from zero to five points, and the absolute hardest songs are rated with five devil heads (see "Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels" above). In addition, the fandom has coined the unofficial "tier 7" rank to refer to any downloadable song that's even harder than the hardest on-disc songs.
Revenue Enhancing Devices: Argued by detractors, particularly in The Beatles' case, as to why DLC is peddled onto the player so frequently in lieu of songs being included from the get-go.
The AC/DC track pack is certainly this, however, as rather than releasing it digitally and as a disc, they only released the disc, which seems to have a higher premium than buying them online. Though like The Beatles, this may have been a compromise to have the songs in the game at all, considering how reluctant AC/DC are to distribute their music digitally or in single releases.
Most point to the, at the time, AC/DC deal with Wal-Mart and Sam's Club for exclusive distribution of their music, including the track pack; it has since become available at most other retail outlets with the exclusivity period completed.
It's worth noting that: 1) The Track Pack discs, when released alongside equivalent DLC, start at $30 for 20 (or, in some cases, a couple more than 20) songs, whereas downloading those same 20 songs online would cost $40 total at $2 per song,note However, Harmonix lowered the price of all pre-Rock Band 3 DLC down to $1 shortly before Rock Band DLC came to a close, now making the total $20 instead of $40. and 2) the AC/DC pack started at $40 and pretty quickly went down to $30 for 18 songs, just 2 less than the otherwise-standard 20.
Rock Band 3 makes Harmonix' habit of DLC-peddling even more obvious by including goals related to the downloaded music: There's several goals for playing any selection of downloaded songs (for up to 20 songs), or downloaded songs from specific artists like Queen or bands with Harmonix employees in them. Thankfully, some of these can be obtained with free DLC, and there's a separate goal for playing every free downloadable song on the platform. Tastefully, the goals do not appear unless you've downloaded the songs that you need to have (but they are still worth fans).
And none of these goals are actually required to hit the highest rank (Completionist) - but if there's one you can't do, they are able to cover it off. You do need all the exports though - RB1, 2, Green Day and LEGO. Given that The Final Countdown 100% solo goal appears... you might actually want to grab some DLC just to avoid it, if you're close.
With Blitz, Harmonix introduced a Facebook application, Rock Band World, where they offered a number of challenges that would reward the player with coins to be used within Blitz (needed to buy powerups for each time you played a song). Most of them cannot be completed unless you have additional tracks imported from the other games, or, even worse for the Scavenger Hunt challenges, the specific DLC songs. Fortunately, since the re-vamping of the coin rewards in Blitz, these challenges are absolutely not necessary.
The Rock Band Stage Kit - for the 360 versions only, it included a LED light show device, and, if you wanted, a fog machine; this would sync with the band animations as to generate its output.
Rooftop Concert: Naturally, the final leg of the story mode in The Beatles: Rock Band is the group's rooftop concert.
Save Scumming: Sort of. The RB3 Pause mechanic actually rewound the song, giving you in effect three seconds to breathe before the song started back up, allowing you to to repeatedly pause and hit difficult chord shifts/drum rolls with 100% accuracy. Harmonix released a patch where excessive pausing turns your crowd meter grey and discards your score for that song.
Sequel Difficulty Spike: A noticeable case of Unpleasable Fanbase. Note how many people complained that Guitar Hero III was too hard, and that Rock Band was too easy, and compare it to how many people complained that Guitar Hero World Tour is too easy and Rock Band 2 is too hard.
Schizophrenic Difficulty: Every incarnation of Endless Setlist has a tendency to jump around a bit on individual parts since it's ordered by band difficulty rather than any specific part, but on vocals it's significantly more noticeable, although what's easy for one vocalist could certainly be hard for another and vice versa, so it's a difficult instrument to balance in the first place.
Also RB2's on bass, because they're ordered by band difficulty rather than instrument difficulty. You're likely to run into this in general if you play bass and try to play the songs in order of difficulty, because when the game sorts them it assumes you want them ranked by guitar difficulty. Rock Band 3 sorts it by whichever part you're looking at the scores for (unless you're in multiplayer, in which case it sorts by band difficulty)
Being randomly selected and all, Mystery Setlists/random setlists have a good chance of turning out this way.
The pro Mode difficulty tiers in Rock Band 3 for guitar, bass, and keyboard (but not drums or vocals) can be harder, easier, or have no change (well, they're almost always harder, but they can be easier compared to other pro charts than the normal chart is compared to other normal charts.) The most egregious example is Smoke on the Water, which is Tier 0 on 5-button Bass, but Tier 6 on Pro Bass.
Self-Imposed Challenge: The game drops hints like crazy. Playing two instruments at once (one being singing) is popular (and fun).
Players also have the option to turn off the note track that tells them what to do (meaning you must play from memory). You also can turn off the master track's vocals (so your voice is the only one you hear), and you have to play entirely from memory.
If you can do this as a band, go on tour as a real gig, and pick up your crowning moment of awesome on the way.
Sensory Abuse: The thankfully patched glitch on Rock Band 3 for the PS3, which would cause a very jarring sound three times as loud as anything else in the game, completely at random, when playing on keyboard.
On the other hand, RB3's music video venues can be unforgivingly blinding at times, even if you have the lights on in the room.
Sequel Difficulty Drop: 2 added No Fail mode, but nothing can be saved while it's on. 3 has a stricter crowd meter, but almost everything can be done with No Fail off (most goals now revolve around getting a certain number of stars instead of survival).
Sequel Difficulty Spike: Rock Band has 2 songs that fall into Rock Band 2's "impossible" tier, 3 if you count the cover of "Run To the Hills" (which doesn't transfer over due to licensing issues, though the original version is now in the Music Store). Rock Band 2 has 12!
Vocals got the biggest boost in difficulty in Rock Band 2. Some of the songs that were in the impossible tier for vocals in Rock Band are in the fourth tier out of six in Rock Band 2. "Foreplay/Long Time", the hardest non-bonus song on vocals in the original Rock Band, was placed right at the bottom of tier five in Rock Band 2, meaning most of the songs in the upper two tiers of difficulty in Rock Band 2 are harder to sing than Rock Band's hardest non-bonus song.
The Rock Band Network is seeing this in a tremendous way; the amount of songs rated at the maximum tier in at least one category, let alone multiple ones, is staggering. Vocals is usually the exception, as the songs in question are metal tunes with talkie lyrics without regard to pitch measurement.
Chaotrope deserves particular mention, as each song of his released on RBN is generally harder than his previous releases. The Hourglass Paroxysm, released as two parts due to being longer than 10 minutes, double-subverts this: Part 1 is probably the easiest 5-star anyone will get on a chaotrope song on anything other than Keys, while Part 2 proceeds to give everybody whiplash with 2 of the three guitar solos, both drum solos, and the overall difficulty (which is considered by some to be above that of Operation Ground And Pound).
Interestingly, this trope is inverted for the regular DLC store, which has a lower percentage of "Impossible" songs (in terms of band difficulty) than Rock Band 1, even if you don't include "Run to the Hills" in that percentage.
Rock Band 3 has an interesting version of this trope. Though all of the instruments are harder individually, the difficult parts are more spread out over the whole setlist, meaning that the general band-difficulty saw a massive drop, even as the individual tracks became harder.
There was an unwritten rule in the first two Rock Band games (and all of the Guitar Hero games for that matter) that all guitar and bass parts were limited to the first three frets on Easy and the first four on Medium. However, for Rock Band 3, not only was this rule scrapped, it was inverted: the tracks on each difficulty are now required to have at least one of every color that is present on the Expert track. In practice, this means that most new songs on Easy now have you using all five frets. Casual gamers were not pleased.
This by itself is impressive. The addition of Pro Mode makes the IDEA of having a keyboard sane. For those that haven't read about it yet, Pro Mode makes the following changes to gameplay for the players with it on:
Drums differentiate between pad and cymbal hits. hitting yellow pad instead of yellow cymbal counts as a miss and an error.
Guitar (requiring a specific type of controller) will require the ACTUAL frets be hit (and correct strings strummed) instead of a catch-all fret button being held down. What TRULY makes this a major escalation is that they released a 102-button (6 strings, 17 frets) controller to play it that way.
Not to mention an ACTUAL Fender (well, Squier) Stratocaster, with circuitry built into the neck that senses your finger positioning (some advanced techniques notwithstanding). Thus, you can play a song on Rock Band and through an amplifier at the same time.
Unfortunately, it has been revealed that a string muting device needs to be applied for the game to pick up the strums reliably. It doesn't hurt technique, but it does hurt the sound. The device can be removed outside of the game (or in the game with no-fail on). E-drums fare better in this regard.
Pro Mode expands the keyboard from using clusters of keys for the 5 lanes into actually playing the correct keys out of the 25 for each note.
Starting with Beatles and through Green Day and RB3, three-way vocals are implemented whenever harmonies exist in songs, requiring a separate mic for each player.
Shown Their Work: Harmonix has stated that, while creating the pro guitar and bass charts, they consulted with the actual artists of the songs to proofread and confirm they were correct. Well, for the most part- the plastic Pro Guitar only has 17 frets, so notes played above fret 17 are moved elsewhere (in some cases, down an octave). There are separate charts for the 22-fret models such as the Squier.
It also features an achievement for whoever can nail 53,596 HOPOs. The number is the exact same as necessary to get the "Z-Genocider 2" achievement in Dead Rising 2 (which was just two zombies upnote Valve one-upped Capcom in Left 4 Dead, commanding you to kill 53,595 zombies. Harmonix tried to continue the joke from the original game's "Zombie Genocider"). The name of the achievement? "HOPO-cidal Maniac".
Most of the default characters in the series (not counting The Beatles: Rock Band, Green Day Rock Band, and Rock Band Unplugged) are referenced.
RB2 had an achievement called The Bachman-Turner Award, for holding Overdrive for 60 consecutive seconds. RB3 had the same achievement, only this time with the title You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet.
Most of the clothing options' names are these. There's even a top called Doctor What.
Siamese Twin Songs: Harmonix (and the Rock Band Network Community) is actually pretty good about handling these, as consecutive tracks that should play back-to-back uninterrupted are charted as one song instead of two most of the time. This does end up being impossible to do at times with songs in the Rock Band Network due to the 10-minute length limitation (One song, Andromeda's 18-minute-long Veil of Illumination, had to be split into two parts to be distributed via RBN).
The most obvious example of not doing this is We Will Rock You \ We Are The Champions, which is two separate songs in Lego Rock Band as they serve as Book Ends to the story. When the songs are exported to the main platform, they're still separate. Then they were re-released with new RB3 charts added. Separately.
Another example is "Black Magic Woman" by Santana, released as DLC, which omits the instrumental at the end, "Gypsy Queen". However, in Guitar Hero III, the instrumental is included as part of the song.
The Trope Naming song is in the game, of course, it's still possible for this to happen given how many words fly by.
Spiritual Successor: Although Rock Band itself is a spiritual successor to Guitar Hero, the spin-off games Rock Band Unplugged and Rock Band Blitz are successors to the past Harmonix games Frequency and Amplitude; arcade-style music games that involve switching between (literal) tracks for each instrument and hitting notes in a balancing act.
And the Nintendo DS games (ports of Lego and 3) are a mix of both, thus making them Spiritual Successors of all three of these games at once.
Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Alternative music; Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters are the most represented groups in the entire game at 26 and 29 songs respectively (Pearl Jam had since lost the spot to Queen who, without counting repeat tracks, has 28 songs in the series). Some alternative fans are very happy about this.
Though not as significantly overstuffed as Alternative, the other heavily saturated genre would be Heavy Metal, with numerous packs (Earache Thrash, Roadrunner Records, Century Media Girls of Metal, Mayhem Tour, Brütal Legend), two large packs by Ozzy Osbourne, albums by Mötley Crüe and Pantera, two albums each by Judas Priest and Megadeth, two Best-of packs for Iron Maiden, a near-factory line efficiency for appearing on the RBN and Disturbed being the single most represented artist in the game to come from the 2000's at 12 songs strong (Avenged Sevenfold trailing with 10 songs). That being said, a metalhead would be quick to tell you that most of it isn't "real metal", often being industrial and hardcore/post-hardcore lumped in with metal and the occasional soft ballad by an otherwise heavy band slipping by (Seize the Day, Through Glass, I.V). Some also criticize the categorization of harder hair bands being called "metal" along with a few downright controversial entries to the metal label (which won't be named).
David Grohl would also be an example if his involvement in Nirvana (entirety of Nevermind and live performances), Queens of the Stone Age (Go with the Flow, No One Knows), Tenacious D (Master Exploder, The Metal, Rock Your Socks), Them Crooked Vultures (Dead End Friends, New Fang) and Nine Inch Nails (The Collector) are counted. There are Dave Grohl fans who are completely for this, but their numbers are dwarfed by the group crying "Enough Grohl!".
One of the goals in Rock Band 3 requires the player to complete songs from 5 different bands that Grohl has been involved in (appropriately enough named Dave Grohl Band). HMX must be well aware of how many times he's appeared in the game.
Not so much a Take That as much as simply a cheeky move, Harmonix announced a 50% off sale for the PS3 (hopefully to counter the arguments for their apparent 360 favoritism). Amusingly these were made-up entirely of albums and packs containing songs that had been announced for Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock along with several singlesnote REM's "Losing My Religion", Flyleaf's "Again", Avenged Sevenfold's "Bat Country", Anberlin's "Feel Good Drag", Stone Temple Pilots' "Interstate Love Song", and a cover of The Runaways' "Cherry Bomb" (the version on WoR is a re-recording) to name only the singles as though to say "Look at the size of our library". Some of these packs were purely in response to Warriors of Rock's setlist:
They have "Been Caught Stealing?" Well, we have that on-disc, and the Nothing’s Shocking album, too.
They have three Megadeth songs, well we have Rust In Peace which contains one of them.
They have "2112"? We have that and Moving Pictures. All of it.
They have "I'm Broken", we got The Great Southern Trendkill.
They have "No Way Back"? Well, WE have so many packs of theirs (and an entire album) that we're going to offer our latest one (at the time, it was Pack 03).
Rock Band 3 andGuitar Hero: Warriors of Rock both have Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. So what do the Harmonix devs put in to put highlight on the fact that they have Vocal Harmonies? A goal called "Bohemian As Intended", unlocked by playing in a band of at least four of the game's capacity of seven players (exactly the sum capacity of players for GH:WoR), along with further special goals that can only be attained by all three parts being done 100% perfectly. Only a very few songs get special goals like this in RB3 (whereas they are extremely common in Guitar Hero), making the choice of this song getting them a fairly clear Take That.
Rock Band Blitz features city graphics with buildings on the side. Already in the previews, one of the buildings is "Bailout Bank".
The Tetris Effect: It is not unnatural, following a session with Rock Band, to find yourself listening to the radio and imagining what it would be like charted as a Rock Band song (complete with an imaginary note track flying towards you). Trying to finger note charts along with songs you know from Rock Band in other contexts is also a common symptom.
The Theme Park Version: Lego Rock Band, though besides having an easier difficulty setting and the songs being a bit easier on average, the gameplay mechanics are all the same as Rock Band 2.
Took a Level in Badass: several songs from previous Guitar Hero games return, usually as masters - with much harder charts. Players capable of easy five-stars in YYZ, Laid to Rest and Monkey Wrench in Guitar Hero II will probably do much worse here on their first attempts.
However, Texas Flood (from the original Guitar Hero) is now much easier (especially at the solo) due to the much better hammer-on/pull-off system, though still pretty difficult.
Don't forget Kansas' Carry On Wayward Son, which was in the 2nd easiest tier in Guitar Hero II, but the 2nd hardest tier in this.
The addition of the drums in Science Genius Girl from Karaoke Revolution took a reasonably easy vocal song and turned it into the most badass drum chart ever.
Many of the Freezepop songs themselves Took a Level in Badass when they were added to the game, since Freezepop added guitar or bass parts to songs that were lacking them, making them more well-rounded songs.
Trrrilling Rrrs: Songs that have these with no word attached, such as Oye Mi Amor and Extraordinary Girl, chart it "rrr".
Also in Du Hast. It's Till Lindemann we're talking about, after all.
Unlockable Content: Rock Band 1 and 2 require you to unlock the setlist for quickplay by playing the career mode, and a few outfits and instruments can only be unlocked by playing particularly difficult Self-Imposed Challenge setlists. Rock Band 3 gives you all the songs right away, but somewhere between a quarter and a third of the wardrobe and instrument catalog has to be unlocked via achievements (which replaces the need to earn in-game money and buy them).
Unwinnable by Mistake: Certain road challenges in Rock Band 3 are completely impossible for certain players to get anywhere on. Just from the on-disc songs, Antibodies on Vocals by itself during the Overdrive Chain challenge is an automatic loss of 5 spades - as even the full 13 seconds of overdrive obtained by the 3 overdrive phrases does not affect the spade meter.
Rock Band 2 has the random event "Biggest. Show. Ever." which tasks you with getting 5 stars on every song in the setlist plus an unnamed encore song with no overdrive at all. The encore added is always Ace of Spades. The problem is, multiple band-mates deploying overdrive simultaneously gives massive score multipliers to everyone, and the star cut-offs adjust for this. If you have a full band, it is impossible to get 5 stars on Ace Of Spades without overdrive.
Up to Eleven: Unplugged (PSP)'s Overdrive multiplier, when activated at 5x, makes the score 11x than just ten.
But not in the DS version of Lego Rock Band, because the overdrive multiplier goes up to 12.
Updated Re-release: In a manner of speaking. Harmonix, now that their position as a leading developer of music titles has been further cemented, likes to take the old cover songs featured in their old Guitar Hero games (the first game, its sequel and Rock The 80s) and reintroduce them into the Rock Band franchise as masters, with full band gameplay, and the added convenience of having all your music on the same platform. Not to mention for new players who never bothered with those earlier titles. Some people, especially players who play games in both series, don't like seeing all these repeating songs, especially in light of the Rock Band 3 track list announcement, which features at least eight repeated tracks from previous Harmonix games, and a handful of songs from Neversoft's Guitar Hero games, although the latter might not be so much a detriment considering Neversoft's habit for ludicrous overcharting.
Also, the RB3 versions of some songs, from Queen and Bon Jovi. Mostly the same charts as before, only modified to take advantage of the new features (on Expert; the lower difficulties were also modified to accomodate use of all five lanes).
Players Are Geniuses: Rock Band 3 has no tutorial except for pro guitar, probably because most people just dive in anyway. It does have trainers for drums, pro keys, and pro guitar, and practice mode for all instruments.
Violently Protective Girlfriend: Vagiant, an in-house all-girl band fronted by game programmer Helen McWilliams (they have since changed their name to Tijuana Sweetheart), created "Seven", one of the first game's bonus songs and a valentine to the violent and protective type.
Vocal Range Exceeded: The game allows you to sing in any octave, so long as the note is right, but there's nothing to stop you from trying for the same octave as the original singer.
Wake-Up Call Boss: "One Step Closer" by Linkin Park is supposed to be a tier-zero song on guitar, yet it is without a doubt the hardest song on guitar in the zero tier (even though it isn't listed as such), and it is even harder than a few of the songs in the next tier, thanks to its power chords that are all over the place.
We Sell Everything: The Rock Band Store, to some people's annoyment about what a game called Rock Band should entail. Seriously, if there's not even one song genre (or even just one SONG) listed that you like, you're just trying to be offended at that point.
Their store on the web used to sell quite a lot of things you wouldn't expect to, including figurines of the characters you created, as well as tee-shirts, mousepads and coffeemugs of your bands. With the new site revamp, the ability to take new pictures of your Rock Band 2 band was removed, although existing pictures are still there. No word on a Rock Band 3 equivalent for this, though.
What Do You Meanits Not For Kids: Most of the outfits are either harmless or mildly sexy or badass looking. A few choices however are straight up BDSM clothing that would not be out of place in something really...well, not for kids.
Wrestler in All of Us: During some Big Rock Endings, your guitarist will not only smash his guitar against the stage, but also elbow drop on it (see the studio version of "Let There Be Rock" in RB2 for an example).
Artistic License - Physics / Rule of Cool: The intro movies from the first two games, which had bands playing on top of their speeding cars, and making Isaac Newton squirm in his grave in the process. The singer is able to stand on his car's windshield, only supported by his feet, and with his body leaned forward almost horizontally. Without falling. Repeated in the "dueling bands" intro for RB2, where both singers do this by planting their feet over the radiator grills and leaning forwards in the same way, as if they were trying to faceplant on the running asphalt below.
Zero Effort Song / Un Winnable: There are some songs that have so few notes that you can pass the song without hitting any notes, but it's still possible to fail them by simply hitting notes when there are none. Then there's "Thank You, Boys" by Jane's Addiction. On vocals, the whole song is one percussion section and one phrase of words, which happens to be a talky part. You couldn't fail this song if you tried. On the other hand most of these songs are also "Un Winnable" in that you cannot get gold stars, or in many cases 5-stars or even 4-stars, when playing them, no matter how well you do. Rock Band 3 fixes this by accounting for the expected average multiplier and amount of overdrive obtainable in the chart.
"Polly" by Nirvana on Drums. There are 8 notes to hit on Expert. 4 on Medium.
In RB2, with various talkys (songs that have extremely few tonal vocal parts, which include "So Whatcha What" and "Give It Away" [one tonal phrase at the end] and "Visions"), one can play the microphone in front of the speakers and do nothing and pass the song, even at expert.
This also happens in RB3 with "Jerry Was a Race Car Driver": pretty much 95% of it is talky.
In The Beatles: Rock Band, the DLC track "Her Majesty" literally has one sustained note on bass and a simultaneous yellow-green-kick note on drums.