Beatlemania is sweeping the nation once again.
No, John Lennon and George Harrison have not come back as musically-gifted zombies to reunite the band. Instead, nostalgic Beatles fans are graced with the next best thing: The Beatles: Rock Band.
The Rock Band series of video games have been an entertaining way for friends to get together and spend a night living out rock-star fantasies, and The Beatles: Rock Band is no different — in fact, it is an improvement.
As an easy-to-play multiplayer game, The Beatles: Rock Band rewards group unity and is more satisfying to play with others than alone. I have seen non-video game fans eagerly play for hours, and even die-hard anti-rock ‘n’ roll fans pick up the guitar or take a turn at the drums. The Beatles has insanely catchy tunes and near-infinite appeal, which the game reflects.
The game aims to capture the feel of The Beatles’ start and rise to fame, along with the band members’ evolution as musicians. It covers the entire history of The Beatles, from the band’s early years playing in British pubs to the Fab Four Ed Sullivan era, all the way to the psychedelic post-India phase. Songs range from the succinct pop hits like “I Want to Hold Your Hand” to the wonderfully trippy and insanely-fun-to-play-at-two-in-the-morning “I Am the Walrus.”
The game also features a handful of more obscure tracks that are unfamiliar to the casual Beatles listener.
The Beatles: Rock Band improves on the standard Rock Band game in many ways. The game’s overall aesthetic, complete with bright colors and psychedelic imagery, looks sleeker and more toned down than the grungy Rock Band design. Many of the songs have specialized background themes — “Octopus’s Garden” features underwater graphics and imagery to accentuate the song effectively.
Introductory videos for each era — provided by MK12, which vastly improves on its disappointingly minimalist work on the opening credits of Quantum of Solace — perfectly set the mood and transport the players into the 1960s.
The controls are simple and intuitive, especially for those who are testing out Rock Band for the first time. Additionally, the game’s display is easy to follow, even when four people are playing.
But the game is not without its faults. The story mode is rather short and can be beaten in less than three hours. For a band whose career spanned 10 years, it is odd that the developers could not get more out of the its vast repertoire.
Also, for a band with such a strong discography, the depth of songs in the game is disappointingly shallow. The game only comes with 45 songs, and, despite downloadable tracks that unfortunately cost extra money, the overall selection falls flat. Where is “Eleanor Rigby?” Or “Strawberry Fields?” How could they not include “Hey Jude?” Although the developers do a good job of mixing the band’s hit songs with lesser-known tracks, some of these omissions just seem like glaring oversights considering the seemingly unlimited access to The Beatles’ music they were given.
Nonetheless, the game is extremely entertaining. Whether it is one person playing or a group of people having a party, The Beatles: Rock Band is infinitely replayable. For devout Beatlemaniacs or just casual fans, the game is the perfect way to spend an evening with friends and enjoy the music of a band that helped define and popularize rock ‘n’ roll.