Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Little Plastic Controllers, Guitars, and the Spaces In-Between

At CES last week, Disney announced a product called Disney Star Guitarist (thanks to David Gloier for the link), and it looks to be a game-based trainer for real guitar playing. Here's a description:
Disney Star Guitarist trains you on the guitar by displaying Guitar Hero-like note information that applies to the frets and strings of an actual guitar. The game can teach you specific songs and ranks your progress as you go, based on how many notes you hit.

In the world premiere demo we witnessed, the game performed remarkably well. When the guitarist hit the right notes, he scored, and when he was slightly off, he didn't. Meanwhile, an inventive notation system gives the player a clear idea of which notes he or she is supposed to hit, thanks to a color scheme that includes some of the strings on the guitar. Players can choose between rhythm and lead guitar modes, adjust tempo, flip the guitar neck on the screen around so that it's facing them as a guitar teacher would, and choose between forty or so guitar tones.

Full story and video here.

The song selection will probably be entirely craptastic, but conceptually, it sounds very much like what I wrote about a few months ago. And if Harmonix could ever come out with something like this to support Rock Band, it would be fantastic.

Actually, that might not even be necessary. The first thing that will happen when this gets released is that someone will create an interface board so that it will work with Rock Band.

Mark Kinkade sent me a link to another interesting product that's being released later this year. I don't even know how to describe it, so here's an excerpt from the website:
The You Rock Guitar has a FULL fret board like a guitar, and feels just like it, but unlike a conventional guitar, there are no fretboard strings. The You Rock’s g-stik technology includes the patent pending multi-touch fretboard and is the ONLY Music controller that can be used successfully on both video games and real music. Raised bars on the fretboard give the user the feeling of playing the guitar with strings but unlike a real guitar, the You Rock Guitar never requires tuning…ever.

I'm not exactly sure how this would work in Rock Band, but based on the pictures, there are no buttons and no strum bar--you'd press down on the frets and actually strum individual strings instead of pressing a strum bar. Well, maybe you'd be strumming individual strings. You could also be strumming any string, which is entirely different.

Again, the description isn't entirely clear, but it looks like kind of a hybrid product, and certainly more challenging (because of the strumming) than using a regular music game controller.

It's shipping later this year, and you can check out an information page here. Oh, and I'll say this: it looks dead sexy. Or it looks like shit. There will be people on both sides.

Update: I found a video, which is definitely headed for the Cheesy Hall of Fame. It's epic.

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