As any Rock Band singer knows, picking your microphone is crucial. It helps define your character. Plus, there’s nothing like screaming metal lyrics into a mic shaped like a bone to make you feel like a badass. Harmonix artist Reiko Murakami knew how important a good mic design was to a singer’s attitude, and designed some of the coolest fictional microphones known to gamers. We spoke with Reiko about her influences for the designs.
The aforementioned bone mic - which is actually called “The MicroBone” - is a user favorite designed by Reiko. She says it was inspired by a barbarian style. She studied pictures of real bones to nail the structure and added spikes and leather to make it “more rock.”
Another mic that received a healthy dose of rock via studs and leather is the Studded Belter blade mic. Oddly enough, it’s not the only Rock Band instrument that can double as a deadly weapon (see The Chainsaw guitar).
The Studded Belter
One mic that didn’t need any spikes or leather to be more rock – or in this case, punk – was the punk mic, also known as the “Sonic Transducer.” Reiko wanted this mic to look like it had been “beat on and broken, filthy and practically non-functional.” To emphasize the broken look, Reiko added frayed wires and duct tape, and of course the ubiquitous anarchy symbol.
The Sonic Transducer
Another popular mic is the goth-like mic called “The Claw.” Reiko designed the mic to have a scary, monster-like feel to it. Gargoyles and a statuesque look inspired this mic that looks as if it might come alive mid-song.
While Reiko designed these mics primarily for aesthetic reasons, they had to appear functional. She had to ensure that the inner workings of an actual microphone would fit in the fictional designs. On top of the technological needs, Reiko had to ensure that the singers wouldn’t poke themselves in the eye with the claw on the goth mic or lose a lip to the blade mic. Reiko creatively worked with the technological restrictions to design unique microphone styles that can only be seen in Rock Band.
One microphone style that never would have worked – but that was a favorite idea around the office anyway – was the ice cream microphone. Inspired by a photo in the Rock Band credits, the mic was an ice cream cone with a melting scoop of ice cream on top. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t fit into the “must be able to function” guideline and had to be scrapped. Had it made it into the game, it would have been the tastiest microphone in history.
The potential ice cream cone microphone