A Guide to Holiday Rock Band Shopping

Hey there folks, Kyle here again. Last time I was writing for The ‘Zine, it was recapping the madness of the Pepsi Drink Up, Rock Out stage at E3. Well, I’m back again, and I certainly haven’t been resting on my laurels. I recently returned from Gobblepalooza, Old Navy’s giant Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Weekend Rock Band extravaganza. It was four days of complete madness that included Rock Band 2 for $20 on Thursday, people lining up outside at 3 a.m. for free copies of LEGO Rock Band on Black Friday, and lots of sparkly Rock Band clothing (seriously: see below). On top of playing a whole lot of Rock Band with folks from all over the world, I did a lot of Rock Band holiday shopping question answering. I’ve decided to put together a little guide here to help out anyone who still has any questions about giving the gift that really does keep on giving, Rock Stardom. Fortunately, Harmonix has a flavor of Rock Band for everyone on your list.

Game: The Beatles: Rock Band
Kids, been trying to get your parents into video games? Parents, been trying to get your kids to listen to The Beatles? No need to fear, The Beatles: Rock Band is here to save the holidays from tube socks and madras shorts.

What is it that makes The Beatles: Rock Band such a great gift? Dozens of classic Beatles tracks to play along with (with more DLC on the way)? Intricate vocal harmonies supported by three separate microphones? The authentic reproductions of classic Beatles instruments like the Gretch Duo Jet and Rickenbacker 325? Stunning original cinematics? Loads of unlockable content like rare photos, movies and sound bites?

Well, yes, all of that. But the real caveat here is that The Beatles: Rock Band is a two-way gift! Parents, give it to your kids for you both to enjoy! Kids, give it to your parents for you both to enjoy! It’s a win/win gift no matter how you give or receive it!

Bonus: All that talking over each other your family does when they’re together? Put it to good use by making them sing the two and three part harmonies! Note: I take no responsibility if you family starts to sing-argue with each other at the dinner table afterwards.

Game: LEGO® Rock Band
You might think LEGO Rock Band was developed as an entry level, more kid-friendly, version of the classic Rock Band game. Well, you’re only half right. What makes this game great is that the character editor in Rock Band 2 can’t make your character shorter than like, 4’10! But LEGO Rock Band solves this problem by simply reducing everyone to an inch and a half.

With an amazing song list (which can be exported to Rock Band 2), hilarious new in-game challenges, insanely cute characters, compatibility with your other Rock Band and Guitar Hero instruments, family-friendly DLC and tweaked difficulty options for kids (and parents, ha!) it’s never been super easier to introduce the joy of Rock Band to someone this holiday season.

There is one warning about this game I have to make clear though. You’ve probably heard of Pageant Moms. Well, LEGO Rock Band has the ability to turn normal, everyday, fathers into Rock Star Dads. I’ve seen the transformation first hand. One minute your dad is staring at the screen, mesmerized and confused by flashing lights and colors, the next he’s forcing you to sing David Bowie’s “Suffragette City”  so he can belt out the chorus from offstage. Kids, make your parents play themselves!

Bonus: Bored with wrapping paper? Complete the LEGO Rock Band experience by delivering it in a present made out of actual LEGOs! Tearing off paper and throwing it away is boring and bad for the environment. Smash it to pieces and rebuild it as something else, like a guitar stand!
Game: Rock Band Unplugged
Know someone who loves Rock Band so much, they can’t bear to be away from it for any extended period of time? Me either, but I do know a guy who wears a Power Glove everywhere, so they must be out there. And because they are, Rock Band Unplugged exists. This is the fully portable Rock Band experience for the Sony PSP and PSPGo. I know, I know, you’re wondering how exactly that works, but trust me, it does. Don’t question the genius that is Harmonix, just accept it and keep rocking. This is Rock Band in your pocket or pocketbook.

Bonus: Headphones! Trust me, whoever is getting the glory that is Rock Band Unplugged will appreciate a nice pair of headphones to go along with. You may want to invest in a sturdy PSP case or wrist strap too, lest your rocker-on-the-go ding into Gold Stars, nail the Big Rock Ending , and in a fit of rock stardom, attempt to smash their PSP on the floor, light it on fire, throw it into the crowd, etc etc…

Game: Rock Band 2
Here it is, the genre defining, rock star-producing King of Music Games. What more is there to say, really?

There are now more than 1,000 songs – spanning almost 400 artists and tons of genres – available for Rock Band, MORE THAN 1,000! With songs released weekly as DLC or available on themed Track Packs, there’s enough music to keep you playing all the way to next holiday season. And that’s not even counting the Rock Band Network! Rock Band 2 isn’t just an amazing game; it’s a gateway to a history of amazing, cross-generational, music. It truly is the gift that keeps on giving.

Bonus: Even if you or your potential giftee already owns Rock Band 2, there are about a billion different accessories available to enhance the Rock Band experience. Hey, let’s take a look at some of them!

Accessories: Instruments!
If you’ve strolled through a Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart, GameStop, or any of their interwebs-based counterparts in the past two years, you’ve probably noticed that there are a ridiculous number of third-party Rock Band instruments out there. Every shape, color, weight and material you can possibly imagine, especially in the guitar department, is out there somewhere. From simple upgrades like the cymbal expansion for the drum kit and wireless mics to serious investments that can give real instruments a run for the money, like the Ion Drum Rocker and the Mad Catz Full Body Fender Stratocaster guitar, there is an instrument out there for everyone.

Bonus: You can find lots of instruments for crazy cheap now-a-days! You know what that means? After nailing a Big Rock Ending in Rock Band 2 or LEGO Rock Band, smash that axe, lasso that mic, and whip those sticks (just not into the TV, those are still expensive)!

Accessories: Songs!
More than 1,000 songs available for Rock Band in both DLC and disc form means more than 1,000 potential gifts for the rock stars on your list. DLC can come via gift cards for Xbox Live, PlayStation Network or Wii points. The Track Packs are available for all three of those consoles, plus PlayStation2. They come in flavors like Metal, Country, Classic Rock, and AC/DC Live! Sadly, there’s no Show Tunes Track Pack yet, but hey, who knows what the future holds?

Bonus: You can import the Track Packs directly into Rock Band on the PS3 and Xbox 360, but don’t let the actual disc go to waste! Recycle them! C-7 size Christmas tree light bulbs will fit perfectly through the disc’s center hole. The light from the bulb will reflect off the discs underside and throw all kinds of cool light effects across any room or tree! Cheaper than a disco ball!

Accessories: Other Stuff
Rock Band has spawned entire new categories of videogame merchandise.
•    Drum pad silencers let you chop out into the wee morning hours without waking up the whole neighborhood.  Even better, how about some awesome drum pad cosies (see below)?
•    Mini amps let you can rock out into the wee hours of the morning by waking up the whole neighborhood. Pair them with a digital projector and you can take Rock Band anywhere! Add a PDP Stage Kit and you can get kicked out of anywhere for fire safety violations! ROCK!
•    For marathon game play, you can’t underestimate the benefit of a great guitar strap, especially if you’re playing on a serious guitar, like the new Mad Catz Full Body Fender Stratocaster. Unless, you know, you want to give the gift of scoliosis this holiday season.
•    A great drum throne is to a drummer what a great guitar strap is to a strummer. A comfortable drum throne makes an awesome gift for the hardcore gatorbeater on your list. Warning: A bicycle seat is not an appropriate drum throne! (It’s happened!)
•    Stands! Sick of having to hang your mic from a ceiling fan for voxtar action? Mic stand, go! Are guitars taking over your living room? Multi-guitar stands are an easy way to keep them neat, accessible, and on display.
•    The list goes on and on! Drummers gloves, glittery t-shirts, stickers, console wraps, custom avatar Bandmates, pedals, portable kits, sticks, bags… if it even remotely relates to music or Rock Band, it’s out there. Hell, in my apartment I have Rock Band coasters and coffee stirrers (I’m still looking for Mic logo cufflinks, wink wink, nudge nudge).

Remember, you’re not limited to the big name retailers (although they certainly carry some awesome gear and run some great holiday bargains) in pursuit of awesome Rock Band gifts. There are great deals happening everywhere. I saw LEGO Rock Band in an Office Max last night. The internet, as you all know, is an ocean of weird, cool, wtf, stuff. Look around, dig deep, you never know what you might find. In fact, you might find things like…

1.    Drum Pad cosies: – How awesome are these? These are some pure, simple, homemade, Rock Band, love.
2.    Rock Band pajamas: – What better way to keep warm on a chilly Christmas morning, I mean, aside from snuggling up with your Xbox 360 or PS3? Next gen consoles or space heaters? You decide.
3.    Rock Band Energizer Stickers: – These are just one of those things you see and are like “Why do these exist?”, but then realize there are a thousand and one uses for them. Nothing says “Happy Holidays” like Rock Band… Energizer… rare… sticker… uh… yeah…
4.    Rock Band Belt Buckle: – Keep yer drawers up in style. Also, when a riot breaks out at your next show you can swing that action around for double duty! Keep punks in line and provide free marketing when the Rock Band logo ends up embedded in some hooligan’s forehead. Win/Win!
5.    Pink Sparkly Rock Band T-Shirt: – The only reason Sharky doesn’t wear this shirt is because no one has bought it for him yet (Don’t let the spikes fool you, he’s a sad panda for this very reason).  No real rock star should be without such a garment. I’m sure you have people on your list who need this shirt, and need to be photographed in it, and need to have said photograph posted on the internet, and… well, you get the idea.

Well, that’s it for me. I’m getting ready to take Rock Band out on the road again so I need to wrap this up and go practice what I’m preaching. Good luck with your shopping this year everyone!  Giving or receiving, you can’t go wrong with some Rock Band action.

Happy Holidays!