The Power Gig: Rise of the SixString
booth at E3 2010 was one of the most fun looking booths I saw while traversing the geek-infested floors. It was decked out to represent a grungy looking bar, complete with a stage of hipster looking rockers that never seemed to tire, and a bouncer behind the red rope. Looking inside, individual game stations are occupied by industry gamers rocking out to color coded rhythms indicated to them on screen plastered in front of what looked like fantasy themed backdrops. But that is not where we were headed.
Instead, John and I are escorted through back-doors to what I like to consider the VIP lounge of the “bar.” I have my sights on the six-string guitar, which Audio Director Mashi Hasu was kind enough to demonstrate for us. In regular play, the guitar has a clip to keep strumming silenced. Sensors pick up your finger placement in the color-coded sections on the neck of the guitar to follow along with notes. When you want to rock out on chord play, that clip pushes down easily to release its hold on the strings. Mashi Hasu plugged the guitar into the amp and gave us a skillful demonstration on how the guitar can play as a real, electric one.
Ensuring your finger placement on the frets does not slip is a bit tricky initially. The barriers between color indicators are drawn with thin metal bars that can be easily missed without proper practice with them. Eventually, however, I got the hang of remembering where the green area ended and the red area began. Having to press down on strings as opposed to a button was an exciting experience as I recalled my short time tinkering with a real guitar and learning notes. I could practically already feel callouses developing on my fingers from the practice.
Switching with John to take control of the AirStrike drums, I was curious to check out this noiseless drum set. It’s easy to become annoyed by the clamoring of the drum sets we have all come to know, but it was time to see if a purely sensor detecting set would be worth the replacement. The AirStrike drums' sensors spread to a wide radius the higher away from the sensors that you strike, so I tried to remain as close to them as possible for a smaller margin of error. Even so, it was difficult to hit the notes properly so I resorted to an awkward sitting position of essentially hovering over the set. I can see that getting accustomed to the sensors' more receptive zones would be in order.
As for the game itself, the menu is ordered in the typical fashion that you would find a music genre game to organize their songs. The difference in the game’s design is really in the HUD and organization of the notes. One distinctive quality that probably everyone has picked up on is the string of colors attached to each note that are meant to guide your eyes toward the next color/note. While I found that beneficial, the notes themselves fly on an open screen, where as I would have preferred my notes to be lined up in their respective lanes. In my time spent with music games, although I have always relied on the color coding to help with progression, I noticed that I also go by the position the note is in. Although the positions are maintained here, it’s easy to have them confused without distinctive barriers in between them.
For more insight, check out our interview with Jeff Walker
, VP of marketing at Seven45 Studios. Power Gig: Rise of the SixString will be available in October of this year on the 360 and PS3.