If you’ve been paying any attention to me, and it’s not really that important if you haven’t, you’d know that I’ve been locked in a sound-proof closet this month reviewing music-based games. Just a few hours ago I was able to put out a review for Harmonix’s Rock Band for the Wii. Just as I thought I could trudge home with a smile and take a much valued shower, I get handed the Track Pack Volume 1. A sly wink and a weary grin later I’m sitting in the lab again to see what the add-on has to offer.


The main shortcoming to my beloved Wii is that the online support isn’t quite there yet. So while all my buddies and their 360 and/or PS3 get to smile smugly about their downloadable content, I shall not be denied scalability. The Track Pack is not just a CD. It is, in fact, a full version of the game with new songs on it. As long as you have the instruments, you can play the game without owning the original Rock Band game disc (though you’d be a fool not to as that is one great game)!


So, YAY, and plus it says right on the box: “The Best Around! 20 of the most popular tracks in Rock Band history distilled to perfection onto one disc!” Master tracks no less…


Let the game begin!

The graphics are the same as the Rock Band game. I don’t see any improvements and I don’t have any ideas to make it better! I will say that the guitar-neck-cam makes me a little woozy so that proves its awesome. They’re using the same 6-8 models for the different songs and it’s their choice based on the genre of the song. There’s a scruffy can’t-see-his-face guy for the older tunes. There’s a clean cut Keanu-type and a couple gals working different instruments. It doesn’t really matter as its just eye-candy for the background, but it’s nice for your audience.


The same araknoid pellets roll down the trackbar and you strum the note when it hits the target. The menus are easy to navigate and it all works quite well. What I may have failed to cover previously were the tutorials. I’ve done the drum tutorial because I’m a percussion retard. I did the singing tutorial because I’m tone-deaf. I never bothered with the guitar tutorial because I’ve been playing Rock Band’s guitars for months now.


Boy was I missing out.


I’ve known about hammer ons and pull offs since the beginning. I just never knew what it was until I did all 3 tutorials. Of course you know this because you are smart and probably a bit younger than I am, or maybe you’re good about reading the manuals. Well before I go off on a back-in-my-day rant, let’s just give you kudos and me my limelight for a bit, yeah? I had not noticed that there are occasions where the notes are so close together that some are half the size of regular notes and those are ones you can hammer on if you’re moving to a lower note (say green to red), or pull off if to a lower note (blue to yellow). Meaning you just move your finger and not try to simulate an epileptic fit trying to hit that half-note.

You might be better off reading this last.


This is, after all, touted as the 20 most popular tracks in Rock Band (the game) history. I do not have any literature on how they came up with that statement. Perhaps it’s just a marketing gimmick, but I’m hard pressed to understand from where they pulled this claim.


For full disclosure, I am one of the biggest FNM fanboi-types there are without actually knowing Mike Patton’s birthday. Yet, I am to believe that “We Care A Lot” is one of the best from these guys? It’s got a nifty beat to listen to, but I’m amazed to think how much hair “Puffy” Bordin has left after playing drums for this song. It wasn’t even written during the band’s hay day when they broke into the mainstream with “The Real Thing” album.


“Gimme Three Steps” is a blast from the past and stinks like Skynyrd hasn’t showered since then, but alright I’m one man whose tastes are particular and this isn’t a musical review. I simply cannot figure out how they — for having such a huge hit of a game — did not come up with better music. After all this is for the widest common denominator and I’m sure that the next Jane or Joe has as strong an opinion about why the only reason to own this disc is for Ramones

This disc does not come as a bundle as far as I know. You have the controls from the main Rock Band kit, or purchased seperately. Thus, I shall plagiarize myself from the Rock Band review.


The controls are still straight forward. Other than the microphone not having any buttons on it — so you have to have the Wiimote handy — the guitar does its thing with the Wiimote nestled in the body, and the drums have their own USB interface. The lack of buttons on the mic can be a blessing because that means you can use any USB microphone you like. If you want a headset and try to play the drums and sing at the same time then go for it.


In the beginning there were many issues with quality of construction, but the set I have garnered no such worries. I had many an issue getting notes to work on time, but I’m certain these were all my fault and not of the controls. The drumsticks are a bit skinny for me, but I was able to get over it. I do not care for the mushy strum bar of the guitar, but with a little practice it gets better. The Guitar Hero strum bar is too clicky, and this one is too … umm … non-clicky. There has to be a comfortable middle in there. I do like being able to alter the purpose of the whammy bar in Rock Band’s guitar, but that’s largely cosmetic.


The USB interface of the mic and drums sort of make the whole wireless beauty of the Wii a moot point, but still it’s a great thing to bring this game to the platform so many millions love.

As a party game, I don’t really think this one can be beaten. You may think that Mario Galaxy or Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is all that, but Rock Band is Universal! Its content is appropriate for teen and older, and on top of that who doesn’t like music? You might not love all the bands that are on the disc, but you’re bound to like a few unless maybe all you can handle is heavy-twang country or Rap.


You can sing to your heart’s content, extend your guitar mastery, or become the ultimate percussionist with the drum kit. Maybe you get a group going and you can mix and match in between songs if someone’s voice is better for a certain song. It’s all possible and it’s all great.


Have a couple different versions of the same instrument (or microphones) then have contests battling against each other! Or with just an extra guitar you have a whole quartet to play to the crowd. Or hey, if it’s just you, there is a ton of things to do, learn, and practice with in the privacy of your own domicile.


No different for the Track Pack.

The brevity in number of songs and the wide swath used to fit as many demographics into one cover hurts the value somewhat. If you’re a gamer who’s musical tastes are in the 70’s, there’s something here for you. If you’re into the 90’s scene, there’s something here for you. If you’re into modern rock, there’s something here for you. The only problem with that is that one-great-track does not an album make.


At least the price is ~$30 rather than the standard ~$50 fee.

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