Gamer’s Got Talent

It’s been nearly three years since Rock Band hit the gaming scene. You might think the mockery would have disappeared by now, but no. Elitist braggarts, with their real guitars, real drums, and real manes of heavy metal hair, still feel the need to feed their egos. Sure, you might be able to play every Led Zeppelin song with your eyes closed, but guess what; I don’t give a crap.

I’m not saying that I don’t want to play an instrument. On the contrary, I gave three years to my middle school percussion section, but spent 99-percent of my time on the bells, and no, not by choice. I ‘played’ guitar for eight years, but had no desire to practice. I had actually wanted a bass, but my dad said, “Nobody wants bass players.” Never mind the three bands that told me to look them up when I got my four-string.

I want to be a singing, dancing, record-spinning, rock-out machine.

I’m not alone either, or Dancing With the Stars wouldn’t be heading into its eleventh insipid season. Desire is one thing. Mustering up the enthusiasm to practice day in and day out is another matter, especially when you can expect to suck royally for at least a few months, with no tangible goal in sight. This is all going to change. Video games provide the instant gratification while also giving real and achievable goals with every new level unlocked, and the latest breed is going beyond simple mimicry.

All right, I’m fickle, and impatient, but if the following games do their jobs, at least I’ll have more talent than you.

Power Gig: Rise of the SixString
You can read our earlier preview, but here’s the cliff note rundown. Power Gig is a music-game that uses a real guitar as a controller, which is fully compatible with Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Developer Seven45 Studios released the “Story” trailer yesterday, but honestly, I’m not interested in story. I don’t care how many customization options, characters, or stages Power Gig has. The game is going to live or die on the strength of Power Chord mode.

In Power Chord mode, it isn’t enough to mash your sausage-fingers into the appropriately colored fret. You also have to hit the proper string. At least, that’s the theory. Power Gig was shown at GDC and E3, but strangely, the heavily-touted mode has yet to be unveiled. I want to see Power Chord mode in action, because I’m getting mixed signals. One rep has told me that it will be limited to power chords – simplified, two-finger versions of full chords – and another rep has said that it will feature more complex fingerings, the same as when playing a real guitar.

By no means do I expect the game to teach me how to nail the solo to Slayer’s “Seasons in the Abyss,” although it will be cool if the potential is there. If nothing else, I’m sure that we can count on Power Gig: Rise of the SixString to give aspiring guitarists a taste of the real thing and learn to play a few songs in the process, without having to drop a few hundred dollars on equipment and lessons.

Dance Central
I started playing Dance Dance Revolution in 2001, but really, stepping on arrows and calling it dancing is like playing Tony Hawk’s Ride and saying you skate. I wanted more, and I found my inspiration through David Elsewhere. I secretly practiced c-walking, liquid, and the Melbourne shuffle in my basement, always imagining the day when I would bust it out on the dance floor. That day never came. I suck at dancing.

Can Dance Central help me? I certainly hope so. I know what some of you naysayers are thinking, “If you want to dance, just get in front of a mirror and do it.” I need more than that. Maybe some crucial pathway in my brain got severed during one of my numerous head injuries. My body starts doing one thing, my brain tries to do another, and my eyes scream in pain from the visual horror. What I need is for someone, or rather the unemotional eye of Kinect, to tell me that I’m doing it wrong.

Am I going to look ridiculous? Will my friends laugh as I shake around like an arthritic amputee in a pool of Jello? Absolutely. Do I care? Not one bit.

Dance Central trailer