Before Rock Band… Before Guitar Hero… There was Amplitude.
And it was a sequel.
Seeing information coming out concerning Rock Band Unplugged on PSP, with each new tidbit, it appears to be a spiritual successor to Harmonix’ earlier games. And this isn’t a bad thing.
More after the break.
A little history on the subject.
Once upon a time, a little company named Harmonix released a rhythm game for PS2 called ‘FreQuency’. No plastic guitars, no gigantor drum sets stealing space in your living room. It was pure, unadulterated musical fun.
The game was only mildly successful, but received accolades from critics. Apparently the game was successful enough to warrant a sequel: Amplitude.
The follow up also met with universal acclaim, but hardly set sales charts on fire.
Partnering with Activision as a publisher, and Red Octane to make their peripherals, Harmonix created Guitar Hero… and things finally took off. While Guitar Hero II was being completed, Harmonix split with Red Octane and started work on Rock Band (partnering with EA and MTV). Red Octane still makes Guitar Hero peripherals, but Activision has brought in another team to actually make the Guitar Hero game.
I’ve oversimplified some of the story, but what I’m getting at is this: the creators of Guitar Hero AND Rock Band created two previous games that (in my opinion) are better than anything they’ve done since.
FreQuency and Amplitude share the same basic game mechanic. Each song that you play is broken up into tracks (drums, vocals, multiple guitars, etc). You’re controlling a ‘ship’ that is traveling down a series of paths, each one representing one of the instrument tracks. Notes flow towards you, and you must hit a corresponding controller button at the proper time (hey, just like Guitar Hero). Hit the notes in the proper time, and that instrument is added to the audio mix. Miss a note, and that instrument is dropped out, becoming inaudible.
While you can switch tracks at any time, if you string together enough perfect notes on a track, it’s toggled on and continues to play… letting you move to another instrument and work on adding it to the mix. One of the most fascinating parts of these games is creating custom mixes of familiar songs.
You also can gain powerups, multipliers, and other bells and whistles, adding a wide array of strategies.
The track lists for FreQuency and Amplitude are mind blowing. David Bowie, Garbage, Powerman 5000, Freezepop (of course), Oakenfold, and so much more (check the links below, there should be a track list for each).
These games are amazing, and I can recommend them to anyone who likes music. Period.
The differences between FreQuency and Amplitude?
Amplitude has improved graphics, a slightly different interface, new music to play, and online multiplayer (yes, on a PS2).
Unfortunately, Sony has put the Amplitude servers out to pasture, so if you play the game now, online play is no longer an option… but it’s still worth every penny.
I don’t know how else to put this, so I’m just going to spit it out: IF YOU’VE NEVER PLAYED THESE GAMES, YOU NEED TO BUY THEM NOW… BOTH OF THEM. Sadly, my copies of the games went with my PS2 when I moved to PS3. I’m going to right that wrong as soon as I’m done writing this article… I’ll be purchasing them again by the time you read this.
While the games are built for PS2 (you may still be using yours, or have an old one laying around) if you have a PS3 that is backwards compatible both games work without problems. Have a PS3, and you’re not sure if it’s backwards compatible? You can find out if it is HERE.