Developer: Realta Entertainment
Publisher: Mastiff Games
# of Players: 1-4
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
Score: A- (90%)
So, this took a while to get done, but that’s because BandFuse: Rock Legends isn’t a “game” in that traditional yearly franchise some of you were probably expecting. While there are indeed game-like elements to both this and Ubisoft’s solid Rocksmith (which has more game-y bits and pieces to it), I have to tip my cap to Realta Entertainment for coming out of the gate strong with a product that excels so well at delivering exactly what it promises in its first iteration that any future versions will most likely be in the form of add on DLC or disc updates as opposed to an entirely new product. Featuring what’s basically an entire guitar school in a box and thanks to some great yet simple tech, amazing lag free play, BandFuse is a must-buy for anyone looking to learn to rock out with the best of them.
What makes the game click is the overall level of quality that’s gone into making everything work so well. The focus here is more on instruction and learning more than copying what’s come from other guitar games from the past decade to the point that some “players” of those older games will indeed feel challenged by what’s here. Unlearning old and poor fake guitar skills in favor of actual guitar skills is actually a great thing to see and experience, so the game scores high marks on the first of many fronts. Equally impressive is the game letting you play at your leisure and not slide up the challenge because you’ve hit too many of the right notes in a song.
The tablature system here is also different than in other guitar games, so it’s going to be one of the things that falls under the most scrutiny among those interested over which new game is “better”. Granted, new users who may not have touched ANY guitar game to date will see this system as new and will pick up on it as they go, but this is a case where trial and learning makes the system. The software also has a great polyphonic tuner you can get into whenever needed and as with a real guitar, if you’re playing a different set of songs from assorted artists, you’ll need to tune up between some songs (and now you know why real bands have all those guitars on stage or being handed out before a new tune is played!).
As this is a teaching tool, the amount of content contained on the disc outside the music and ability to jam with up to three others is very impressive indeed. You can recreate just about any pedal and amp effect you can think of (and probably create a few new ones), every song can be fiddled with in numerous ways to the point that you’ll be laughing at the flexibility you have to even make adjustments mid-song, starting over at any point without failing or few frustrations other than realizing that learning an instrument isn’t as “easy” as those older plastic guitar games make it seem. Multiplayer allows up to two guitars, a bassist and vocalist, but you can even get a simpler karaoke night on with a trip to the options screen for some fiddling.
There are also dozens of interviews and general to advanced tips on playing and life as a musician from Slash, Bootsy Collins, Zakk Wylde and more, making that part of the experience almost like taking a master class with a few personal touches. You can spend hours just watching these videos, space them out between lessons or even get a few friends together to learn at the same time while using the videos for motivation. As noted, total freedom of choice is the way to go here. Of course, drummers are out of this rock loop, but that’s because of it being a separate discipline and the need for an actual drum kit or some expensive simulation. BandFuse is made to work with any electric or acoustic guitar and a wide range of microphones, but I guess if you have a drum kit and a drummer handy who wants to pop into your private school, Realta would be all for that noise. The more, the merrier…
As for songs, you get 55 great classic to current tracks on the disc and more are on the way from a few more greats (and who wouldn’t love some exclusive Jimi Hendrix tracks?) as the game makes its way into the libraries of both music game fans and up and coming rock gods and goddesses. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, there’s a LOT of stuff to do with this “game” that makes it one of those “evergreen” titles that’s an absolute must-buy. The best thing I can say about BandFuse is it’s got legs far outside the genre box some will put it in until they see fr themselves that it’s a great deal more than “just another music game”. Whether or not you’re a shredder-in-chief or someone who wants to become one, this is a more than superb start to your musical future.