Amplitude is Almost Here and I Can’t Wait

AmplitudeHarmonix Games’ revival of their famed Amplitude franchise is looking spectacular, thanks to a new trailer that was released today.

Put into production after a successful 18 day Kickstarter campaign, the PlayStation exclusive rhythm action game revives the cult classic series that Harmonix claimed fame for prior to their work on Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Players are challenged to create music tracks by successfully activating sections of a song. Each song segment (bass, rhythm, highs, vocals, etc.) are activated by rhythmic combinations of three button presses, similar to successfully activating a section in Guitar Hero or Rock Band. After a segment is successfully activated, it stays running for a limited time and a different segment can be jumped to (typically with the shoulder buttons) with the goal of adding more segments.

New to the series is the addition of a cooperative multiplayer mode where multiple players can stay on dedicated segments to create more complex tracks. It is a natural evolution for a company that saw incredible success in its work in cooperative rhythm games.

Newcomers to the franchise might notice many similarities between Amplitude and the colorful Rock Band Blitz. Blitz shared many of the concepts that made Amplitude and Frequency popular, with Blitz having a focus on Rock music thanks to the vast Rock Band library.

Amplitude is set to release this Summer for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3. Harmonix will be showing the game off for the first time to the public at this weekend’s PAX East convention.

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Harmonix Toys With All Our Emotions

Rock Band 3Last week was a pretty busy week for Harmonix Studios. The design team best known for their development of the Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises launched three new tracks for Rock Band 3 last week, nearly two years since their last DLC update.

…oh?

While the tracks themselves were from established and popular bands (Foo Fighters, Arctic Monkeys, Avenged Sevenfold) they weren’t exactly long absent tracks or chart burners. The timing of the release begged the question, why? Harmonix had ceremoniously pulled the curtain on their weekly DLC outings for Rock Band back in 2013, with the highly appropriate American Pie as their plastic instrument swan song.

So why after two years are they suddenly dipping their toes in the water?

Easy answer, new consoles are out and there is a gap in the plastic instrument music space.┬áThis theory holds water as Harmonix issued a voluntary survey to its mailing subscribers and the public asking about what they want to see in a new Rock Band. Topics ranged from importance of DLC, bundling of instruments, to online play and a career mode. There’s not much tea leaf reading required on this one. Harmonix wants to make a new one, they just need to find the right opportunity.

Dance Central SpotlightAfter making some fairly well received motion controlled games in their Dance Central series and to a lesser extent, last year’s Fantasia, Harmonix is probably itching to get back into what they do best. Creating note charts for popular music.

Harmonix is in an interesting situation where they have such a overwhelmingly positive relationship with both Sony and Microsoft. With Microsoft, they designed the aforementioned and critically acclaimed Dance Central games and with Sony they are set to bring back their cult favorite Amplitude thanks to a short Kickstarter campaign (even though that game got delayed until Summer). Rock Band proved to be a huge financial boon to publisher Electronic Arts but quickly fizzled out thank to saturation in its competition.

AmplitudeTruth be told, those plastic instruments were a chore to maintain and took up a ton of space in any den. Between Rock Band and Guitar Hero I have six guitars, two drum sets and two microphones all occupying space in my closet. And I never purchased any additional guitars after the original Rock Band.

But Rock Band was my jam. Something about playing Boston online at 3 AM with my headphones on was surreal. Forming a band out of strangers, getting your friends over to play the random assortment of downloaded tracks in my library, Rock Band was a pure experience that has never been replicated. Where Guitar Hero excelled in competitive music gaming, Rock Band brought individuals together in a performance.

And honestly, that is what music is all about.

Destructoid – Harmonix survey asks what you want from a new Rock Band experience