For a long time, Konami has been producing a guitar-based arcade game franchise named Guitar Freaks, which, along with its sister series Drum Mania, has been the go-to Bemani game when I don't feel like jumping around like a tit. When Guitar Hero revolutionized the home rhythm game genre, Konami sued the makers for infringing upon their patented guitar controllers they use for Guitar Freaks. I think it was less about defending their patents, and more about trying to grab a little bit of that sue-sue revenue-tion.
When Konami realized that they were missing out on an untapped home audience, they contacted a little-known and fairly mediocre company that goes by the name Zoë Mode, and together they adapted the famous Guitar Freaks and Drum Mania game franchises for home consoles and portables under the name Rock Revolution. The reason why you've never heard of this is because it's awful, and if you have heard of it and played it, you'd likely agree.
Zoë Mode's previous contributions to society? EyeToy games, SingStar games. Dancing With The Stars... This is going to be bad, isn't it.
If it had been a complete copy/paste job of the arcade games, along with their amazing "Konami Originals" such as Dragon Blade, Murmur Twins, iFuturelist... it could have potentially been my favourite guitar game, even over Guitar Hero and Rock Band. But because this is Konami, and the focus was on making cheap bucks, the easy way they felt they could make money was to put in popular rock songs, make the game gritty, and there you go.
Along came Rock Revolution, and like all attempts to westernize a Japanese intellectual property it just fell apart like a badly oiled combine harvester, ooh wah ooh wah eyy. I think it was important for me to look at why the game missed the mark so spectacularly, because now that we have our expectations sufficiently lowered, Rock Revolution can actually be fun.
No "revolution" to speak of, but it's definitely revolting.
You can play guitar, bass, and drums in Rock Revolution. To play guitar or bass, you need a compatible Guitar Controller, or you can use the Xbox 360 controller. The same goes for drums, which can be played with either a Rock Band or Guitar Hero drum kit or with the Xbox 360 controller. The game doesn't laud it over you if you want to play on a controller; it'll let you do the whole game like that, no complaints.
The two major modes worth talking about are Quickplay (where you can select any song in the game, no unlocking required) and Multiplayer, where you and another player can go head to head. There is also a Career Mode, which has you completing mundane tasks to progress through an uninteresting plot-less slog to unlock characters and venues, none of which are exciting or implement anything from Konami's long and illustrious history.
All of the songs are covers. This isn't inherently bad, and in terms of quality, they are on par with what you'd expect from the Bemani sound team. In other words, they're enough like the original song that when a line is sung wrong or a guitar lick is incorrectly played I am pulled straight out of the experience. After just one song, I'm used to it. Yes, it sounds wrong, but it feels alright to play.
Do we really need loading times up to 30 seconds for a song in a rhythm game? How about for the game menus?
This is a half-assed game, yes, both lazy and poorly constructed. Yet Rock Revolution is still somehow fun. You'll get a kick out of it for about an hour, picking out your favourite songs in Quickplay. But riddle me this: why play Rock Revolution if every decent song in this game is available either on disc, as DLC, or as a song import for a better game such as Rock Band 3 or Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock? Get one of those.
I would also like to add that DLC exists for the North American version, which I unfortunately cannot play due to region restrictions. It's just four songs, but here's the clincher: they'd have to be goddamn Konami Originals, wouldn't they. I need to sit down.