Fender, the guitar company manufacturing Rock Band 3′s hybrid guitar and controller, has posted an info page for the new device allowing interested parties to sign up to “be the first to get access to exclusive content and news for the upcoming pre-order and release of the Squier by Fender Stratocaster Guitar and Controller.”
The page doesn’t really tell us anything we didn’t already know about the instrument; details are mainly talking about “quality Fender components” like “a contoured wood body, 22-fret maple neck, steel strings, enclosed tuners, adjustable bridge, and custom bridge pickup.”
But it’s good to know you can sign up for early notification, so you don’t have to keep checking music blogs and…wait a minute. Forget I said anything. NOTHING TO SEE HERE.
Nice! Jeff over at Fake Plastic Rock has posted a nicely detailed review of the tweaked Rock Band 3 drums and redesigned Rock Band 3 cymbals. He didn’t find much difference with the drums heads themselves, but speaks very highly of the new cymbals:
I heartily recommend these new Rock Band 3 pro cymbals, as they are indeed a major and welcome upgrade over the RB2 ones.
It’s interesting to me that he didn’t notice a difference in the feel of the drums themselves, though, because when I tried them out at E3 they seemed noticeably quieter than my launch RB2 kit. But it’s certainly possible that that was a prototype kit…or that I was simply misremembering how the RB2 kit feels.
Tommy over at RockBandAide just posted a followup to his recent PAX interview with Harmonix communications manager John Drake, and while there aren’t a whole lot of surprises to be found therein, one item in particular caught my eye.
Tommy asks if the Squier is console-neutral, and whether it comes packed with the MIDI controller. Here’s Drake’s response:
The Squire [sic] is console neutral! You will need to get a MadCatz MIDI Pro Adapter to play Rock Band 3. That adapter can also be used to convert MIDI Drums or MIDI Keyboards for use with the game and it’s being planned as a standalone product at this time.
That’s a bit disappointing since the Squier is sure to be expensive, and the MIDI adapter has a MSRP of $39.99. Now, I do know that the MIDI adapter is not console-neutral, so perhaps this is actually the most cost-effective way of selling both devices. And hopefully this means that the price of the Squier can be kept down a bit. But if the guitar runs $250 or more, and you’ll need to shell out another $40 for the MIDI adapter, I don’t see a lot of folks being particularly happy about that.
Remember that video I posted awhile back featuring blogger/geek/noted video game advocateWil Wheaton singing “Poker Face” in Rock Band? The one where he was backed up by the wanton gyrations of actress/geek heroine Felicia Day and science fiction author/blogger John Scalzi?
Apparently, following this stellar performance, all parties involved in this memorable event signed the Rock Band guitar used on stage. (Also signing: James Owen of The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica and Aaron Douglas of Battlestar Galactica.) And now it’s being auctioned off for charity!
The charity is Kids Need to Read, which “works to create a culture of reading for children by providing inspiring books to under-funded schools, libraries, and literacy programs.” And at the moment, the auction sits at an eminently affordable $165-ish. So get in there and help kids get good stuff to read!
[EDIT: Now updated with Amazon links to the available products.] In advance of this weekend’s PAX Prime in Seattle (alas, I will not be going this time), Mad Catz has released info and pricing on all the retooled — or at least re-colored — controllers designed to support existing music games. But that’s not all; the release also details pricing for various official accessories — as well as one item designed to take advantage of one Rock Band 3′s Pro drums:
Fully compatible with Rock Band™ 2, all subsequent games in the Rock Band franchise and other music games, the Wireless PRO-Drum and PRO-Cymbals Kit allows gamers of all abilities to rock-out in style when playing drum portions of any game in the Rock Band franchise. From playing on easy in standard Rock Band game play, through to hard on the all-new Rock Band Pro mode available in Rock Band 3, the Wireless PRO-Drum and PRO-Cymbals Kit features four responsive drum pads, three realistically styled and newly engineered cymbals (Hi-Hat, Crash and Ride), and a metal-reinforced foot pedal. Now with an all-new input allowing for dual foot pedal setup, the Wireless PRO-Drum Kit comes complete with one set of wooden drum sticks.
I suspect that’s going to be on a lot of Christmas lists this year. I got hands-on time with many of these tweaked products at E3, and came away particularly impressed with the redesigned drums and cymbals.
The press release also lists features and pricing for an extra kick pedal; keyboard, mic, and guitar stands; and the Electro-Harmonix Overdrive Pedal, with everything in the lineup expected to be available by the October 26 launch of Rock Band 3.
Dan over at Activision’s One of Swords blog has posted a nicely detailed video showcasing the new drums that’ll be (finally!) packed in with Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock. This is the same kit that’s been available for Band Hero in the UK, or with Band Hero Wii in the U.S. But now it’s open to the masses, and it sounds like it’s got some very welcome improvements.
My favorite new feature has to do with the drum brain: It now detaches from the body of the kit so you can easily use it with MIDI drums (or MIDI-enabled systems like the Omega GM-1) without having to have the whole drum kit out and attached. Even better (for home recording enthusiasts like me), the brain now has a MIDI out instead of just the MIDI in. That should mean we’ll be able to hook the kit up to a PC or other MIDI device and play it on its own.
Check out the whole video below to see even more details.
Reader JCR writes with a question that I thought we could all benefit from.
“I have yet to invest in a full band kit,” he says. “I bought Guitar Hero III for my 360 a couple years ago, but never played it much. Now my fiancee wants to rock out, but I don’t know which box to get — I’m still seeing World Tour boxes available (not seeing GH5 though), but there’s also Band Hero, Rock Band 2 and Beatles Rock Band on store shelves. I’m not loyal to GH over RB, or vice versa. I just want a good set that I can use with whichever disc I want to pop in.”
Well, JCR, this would have been easier to answer without Rock Band 3 on the horizon. Now things are a bit more complicated. Here’s how I see it:
For games and instruments available on store shelves right now, I’d have to go with the World Tour bundle. The game is solid, the drums are the quietest stock kit on the market (unless you have a Wii or are outside the U.S. and already have access to Band Hero drums for your 360), and the guitar and mic are perfectly adequate. If your tastes run more to pop, you could even upgrade the guitar a bit (and currently, save some serious cash) by picking up a Band Hero bundle instead.
But here’s the thing: In a couple months, everything’s going to change. Continue reading →