For Beatles fans all across the country, especially the youngest fans among us, last Wednesday 09-09-09 was one of the most Beatle-manic dates in the band’s history, as it marked not just the re-issue of the Fab Four’s entire CD catalogue, but also the debut of the new gaming sensation BEATLES Rock Band. But for Maspeth residents lucky enough to participate in PRESS START CAFÉ’S exclusive launch party Thursday evening, it was the following day that was even more memorable, the one after 9/09.
At an exclusive after-hours debut party on September 10th, several fans and media got to try BEATLES ROCK BAND first-hand (while also being feted by PRESS START with their oh-so-tasty THREE SON’S PIZZA, a staple of the parties held there on a regular basis.)
BEATLES ROCK BAND is clearly more than just a competitive gaming experience. It’s also a clever way to introduce an entirely new generation to the history of the group itself, as the game’s journey is essentially a musical travelogue of the entire Beatles career.
Gameplay modes are definitely similar to other Rock Band games, and "Story" mode is similar to the "Career" mode of the first Rock Band game as it follows a linear progression through The Beatles history. Optional challenges are available in each of the story's "chapters," tasking players to accomplish specific goals. If the players earn a sufficiently high score, they will unlock photographs and audio clips of The Beatles taken from the Apple Corps' archive to provide "splashes of history." (One such unlockable "prize" is an edited version of the 1963 "Beatles Christmas Record"!)
Immediately before playing a song, players must choose their difficulty level (ranging from "Easy" to "Expert"). A "No Fail" mode has been carried over from Rock Band 2 and is accessible from the difficulty selection screen rather than from the game's main menu. No Fail mode allows players to complete songs regardless of their performance. In fact, it’s probably one of the most popular aspects of this new gaming experience – how encouraging, how confidence-boosting it all seems to be – as note after note after note is heralded as “Fab!” “Fab!” and “Fab!” again and again.
Given the world renown of the game’s inspiration, rest assured that the developers absolutely did not miss a trick anywhere here, in an effort to brand The Beatles for all eternity. For example, players use controllers designed very much in the Beatles image – Ludwig drums, a Hofner bass, a Rickenbacker guitar – and the game’s journey has them performing songs from the BEATLES oeuvre like “I Saw Her Standing There,” “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” “Eight Days A Week,” etc. as the game takes them on a journey from the Cavern Club in Liverpool, to the Ed Sullivan Show, Shea Stadium, Japan’s Budokan, and Abbey Road Studios, culminating of course in the “Get Back” rooftop sessions above London’s Apple Corps building.
BEATLES ROCK BAND was, in fact, developed with the blessing and critical input of the very same Apple Corps, including former Beatles members Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. But chalk this one up to the next generation in the BEATLES fold, as it was George Harrison's son Dhani who championed the game's creation and helped to bridge discussion between game developer Harmonix and Apple Corps, while Giles Martin, son of The Beatles' music producer George Martin, was able to assure high-fidelity audio from songs recorded on older media to integrate properly with Rock Band's gameplay.
Clearly, participants at Thursday’s launch got a great taste of not just what BEATLES Rock Band is all about, but also why Grand Avenue’s PRESS START CAFÉ is the absolute perfect venue for friends and family to try it out. First of all, the vibe here is really more of a lounge and a café than just a video-gaming center, something which always seems to make parents feel even more comfortable about having their kids spend time there. Add to that the comfort level of the salon-style recliners from which participants can play (in combination with dozens of high-tech state of the art high-def screens!), and you’ve definitely got a truly top of the line gaming experience, one which will probably have you and your young ones on the premises… oh, shall we say… eight days a week!
And that’s the thing really – because unlike other videogames, BEATLES ROCK BAND is the perfect opportunity for parents and kids alike to join in and share the music together. In fact, if you ask us, isn’t that what makes for the perfect scenario to celebrate a special birthday party?
“My hope,” says PRESS START CAFÉ co-owner Danny Bolanos, “is that BEATLES Rock Band will introduce their music to an entirely new generation of fans. And I also hope that they’ll remember PRESS START CAFÉ, where they first got to experience it!”
(For raw video of PRESS START CAFÉ’s launch party – and a look at BEATLES ROCK BAND – please check back with us soon right here at www.QueensLedger.com. And make sure you check out www.PressStartCafe.com too, for more on this state-of-the-art video gaming center!)