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Game Review

Who would have thought that a handful of children’s interconnecting blocks could make for so much video gaming fun? But if you’ve ever played a LEGO Star Wars or LEGO Indiana Jones game you know that these building block characters can pack a quirky and charming punch. And now the LEGO guys are dropping their fedoras and lightsabers in favor of growing hair down to there—and twanging away at a guitar, too, of course.

Like other rhythm titles, LEGO Rock Band is all about listening to rockin’ tunes and tracking colored blips on the TV screen while you punch buttons on plastic controllers shaped like a set of guitars and drums (sold separately, naturally). It’s an elaborate karaoke sing- and play-along for one to four would-be rock stars—of a certain rectangle-ish persuasion. So how do LEGOs, uh, stack up in this genre?

The simple answer is that they make things a bit more friendly.

Build Me a Rock Band …
All those rock star images featured in other Rock Band or Guitar Hero titles look a lot different when seen through LEGO-shaped glasses. Sure, you still have tattered T’s and jeans, goth and punk outfits, spiked hair, multicolor makeup, tattoos and the possibility of a bare chest or bikini top in the wardrobe choices. But when it’s all painted on a blocky little LEGO guy or gal—without an accentuated curve in sight—it can’t look anything but funny and fun.

Another amiable aspect of LEGO play shows up in the game’s Rock Power Challenges. Essentially, instead of merely making your way through song sets, you’re given a series of scenes that send your blocky band in to help others through the power of your awesome rock ’n’ roll! (Did you hear the reverb in your head when you read that?)

An example or three: You aid a frustrated demolition team with crumbling a building. You face off with a Jurassic Park-style T. rex. You recharge a depleted flying saucer in a Close Encounters of the Third Kind spoof. And through it all your broadly gesturing LEGO characters keep you chuckling while they crank out the jams.

And speaking of cranking, a couple of other nice additions help make LEGO Rock Band a little more accessible to those who might not be accustomed to hard-core Rock Band ways. For the first time, gamers can turn off the bass kick pedal to make their drum pounding duties a bit simpler. And they can opt to play shorter versions of the songs to give their button-punching fingers a break, too.

… And Sing Me a Song
Which brings us to the game’s 45 included tracks. I can’t say that this collection is a tour bus full of golden hits, but it’s a pretty good song list that stays mostly on the family-friendly side of the stage.

There are rock classics from the likes of Elton John ("Crocodile Rock") and Queen ("We Are The Champions"), some more contemporary pieces from such groups as Korn ("Word Up") and Blink-182 ("Aliens Exist"), and even some novelty numbers such as Ray Parker Jr.’s "Ghostbusters."

P!nk’s "sneer in the face of divorce" anthem "So What" is the most rough-edged piece in the pack ("I guess I lost my husband/I don’t know where he went/So I’m gonna drink my money/I’m not gonna pay his rent"). But these jumpin’ jams ultimately can prove to be a bit of a problem. And that’s because of the wide range of bands they represent. The bands’ songs inside the game aren’t so bad, but the rest of their music available outside the game can be—and there won’t be any LEGO characters around to cutesy things up.

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Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, DS


Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment


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Bob Hoose

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