The Guitar Hero series has received its death sentence, but one company thinks it’s come up with a creative new way to revive the genre: using real guitars.
To be precise, Ubisoft’s RockSmith isn’t billed as purely a game, but rather a “musical experience.” It’s less a case of a rhythm game that happens to be based around a guitar theme, and more a guitar training program using the medium of gameplay, with the console or computer giving a precise breakdown of accuracy, as opposed to a human instructor throwing out adjectives.
RockSmith is still in development, but the idea is that it will ship with a special adaptor that plugs into the guitar’s output socket at one end and a USB socket at the other. For those who don’t own a guitar, there may be a special bundle including a real-life instrument. Ubisoft is said to be in talks with guitar manufacturers to try to set up a deal where such a bundle could be sold for $200 (which is often touted as the psychological limit for reaching a mass audience with consumer electronics.)
The actual details of the gameplay have been kept relatively quiet, with only one brief glimpse of a screenshot among the trailers. It looks to be along the same lines as Guitar Hero with the colored “notes” scrolling down the strings, but without the on-screen representation of the player. One thing that has been revealed is that the gameplay will automatically adjust to the player’s skill level.
A Ubisoft spokesman claimed ” Whether a beginner or a seasoned guitar vet, players progress at their own speed and walk away from the game with the ability to play songs by memory. Rocksmith is the only video game that gets players stage ready.”
The game is set to launch in September on XBox 360, PS3 and PC. It will ship with 45 tracks, with big names such as the Rolling Stones, David Bowie and Nirvana included.
Whether it will prove a lucrative exercise remains to be seen. Given that the rhythm market has been well and truly saturated, it’s hard to see how a game that’s inherently aimed at a much narrower audience could be a major success.