Rock (Band) Isn’t Dead!!!!

One of the biggest complaints you will hear in regards to modern music is that rock is dead. When Gene Simmons claims Rock is dead, it’s probably a pretty decent sign that the genre is on the way out. Statements like that reinforce the cynical nature inside of older people who just want a return to the old days.

The same echoes with the rhythm gaming genre. When Activision and Harmonix killed off Guitar Hero and Rock Band, gamers were left without any kind of successor. Sure, other types of rhythm games popped up, but nothing that utilized the guitar controllers and plastic drum kits we had collected over the years.

It seemed like all of that investment and trust was just thrown to the curb. Harmonix did their best to support Rock Band 3 with DLC well into 2012, but they eventually closed up shop. Since the genre had seen better days, there wasn’t much purpose in producing content for a game that people weren’t buying.

Just like how most people claimed that rock was dead, so was Rock Band. We all had our fun and now just have memories. No one will ever make the same classic game again. Why would you? We have all moved on.

Except that isn’t even true. Not only will Rock Band 4 be releasing tomorrow (with Guitar Hero: Live releasing later this year), but rock is not dead. Far from it. It may not hold the mainstream appeal it once had, but people haven’t forgotten about rock.

Sup?

A little band by the name of Ghost have done everything in their power to resurrect the 60’s style of gothic/satanic inspired pop/rock for a new era. Mastodon, once a progressive metal band, have transitioned into mostly their own genre with lots of throwbacks to classic rock styling.

For that matter, The Darkness released a new album in May of this year. They are a band founded on bringing back 80’s hard rock. To even claim that rock has died is just being ignorant; if anything, rock is more specialized now then it ever used to be.

Certain things fade in and out of fashion all the time. Music is the easiest to track as it has been around for as long as people began speaking. Much like how the Middle Ages was overrun with chamber music and the Renaissance brought about classical music, most of the 20th century was dominated by rock.

You can even go further by dissecting different decades and identifying sub-genres. The 50’s was the dawn of rock’n’roll. The 60’s brought pop/rock and the 70’s started with prog rock. Even now, in 2015, rock has mostly turned to metal with some bands clinging to old-fashioned ideals.

Gaming has had a similar resurgence of the past. 2D Platformers had all but died in the early 2000’s, but we now have more made every month then were released in the entirety of the 6th console generation. It’s almost as if the SNES never left.

If only you could buy one of these brand new.

To say anything is dead is to know where humanity and public interest is going. If you can logically see into the future, then you can make the claim that something has moved on. How can that ever come to fruition when so many people talk about it?

Could rock music ever die? There are indie bands no one has heard of pumping out sweet licks every week. There are people in their bedrooms recording songs made solely by them. Even gigantic, mega famous bands like Metallica are going back-to-basics and producing music in the vein of their origins.

Rock isn’t dead. Far from it. The same can be said for Rock Band. Now that the time is right and the consumers are hungry for a return to basics, Rock Band will get to thrive where it’s needed most; in the hearts of true fans.

The genre may have crashed before, but Harmonix never left the building. They let other acts take over the stage while they calculated how to one-up the competition. Allowing users to retain DLC between console generations is completely unprecedented and will definitely lead to sales from cynical folk.

More importantly, we may finally have that dream version of Rock Band we always wanted. Every single hit song from every decade on one console. The fact that I can load up Jimi Hendrix, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Talking Heads and The Police in one setlist is beyond amazing.

Better still, Harmonix has the power to make new music known. Most people who will buy Rock Band 4 are probably going to be younger then the target demographic (18-34). They will get to experience the best of the past and the brightest of the present all under one roof.

Long Live Rock!!

I don’t think there is a better time for rock then right now. If you still think it’s dead, you’re just delusional.

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A “Journey” Without Death

I’ve heard mountains of praise for the recently released PSN exclusive, “Journey.” Gamers and critics alike are claiming it to be an “experience” unlike any other in the medium. Its lackadaisical nature and user friendliness have allowed many to see everything the title has to offer. Another game comes to my mind immediately.

2006 saw the release of the sci-fi shooter, “Prey,” developed by Human Head Studios. The game is incredibly generic, save for one mechanic. The main catch to the title, though, is that death is an after-thought. For as hard as any one moment can be, you will never be able to perish or have to restart anything.

In addition to that, Ubisoft rebooted Prince of Persia in 2008 with a self-titled game, “Prince of Persia.” The same thing as “Prey,” as hard as any one moment can be the game immediately brings you back when you fail. You can even careen off a chasm and not be punished, other than waiting a few seconds for an unskippable cutscene.

So my question is, “What makes “Journey” so special”? I have yet to actually experience the game, but I have a hard time believing that the lack of death or game over is what people are so excited about. But if that’s not the case, then are they honestly going for pure atmosphere?

I’m not one to put restrictions on what a game should or should not be. If you can derive enjoyment from a title, then it obviously succeeds as a piece of entertainment. Every critical analysis I’ve read of “Journey,” though, claims that the game is a pure expedition through serenity. Well, why isn’t “Prey?”

You cannot fail at “Prey.” I suppose if you stopped trying, the game would never conclude, but nothing will ever hinder your progress. When you die, you get transported to a spirit realm to regain health and are then put back into the same exact spot where you collapsed. The bosses don’t even regenerate health.

At least in “Prince of Persia,” failure at battles would cause the enemies to regain some of their stamina. Attrition was the goal with that title and it suffered for it. At the same time, though, why is “Prince of Persia” not the same as “Journey?”

I find it hard to take game criticism seriously when games like “Journey” are receiving universal praise, but something like “Prey” and “Prince of Persia” are bashed for the same exact reasons.


But this is pretty, right?!

“Journey” doesn’t even take place in an area that is new to gaming. Modern shooters have been exploring the Middle-East for almost a decade now. Sand dunes and temples are staples in a lot of RPGs. Hell; the main character from “Journey” kind of resembles a Helghast soldier from “Killzone.” It doesn’t look to be terribly original in any regard.

My only point of comparison would be Thatgamecompany’s own “fl0w,” a game which I have played. I understand there is no true purpose to the title and that it merely exists as a means of entertainment, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to claim it as a classic. It exists for people to relax and kick back.

And maybe that is just the point of “Journey.” Maybe I shouldn’t be trying to compare it to “Prey” or “Prince of Persia.” “Journey” isn’t on PSN so that it can tell a specific tale or challenge anyone to their fullest degree. “Journey” isn’t demanding and it simply exists for people to relax.

“Prey” and “Prince of Persia,” though, do exist for the purposes of challenge. Both games were ambitious in their foundations to break the game-over screens of the old-school era, but failed to capitalize on their own premises. While their one central idea is founded in reason and logic, their game mechanics lacked any innovation or surprise or challenge.

“Journey,” though, brings people together anonymously and makes them feel like friends. Aside from the Souls games, I can’t think of any other title that accomplishes such a feat.


You’re my best friend!

Still, I can’t shake that people are being unfairly warm to “Journey.” I cannot claim it’s a bad game, but I would like to hear more claims about why it is so great. Simply being an “experience” doesn’t cut it for me. If anyone could enlighten me, I would appreciate it.

Thoughts of Death

When it comes to media, I try to be as objective as possible. Obviously I’ll berate something if I dislike it or cheer when I’m captivated by something, but I usually go into things with an open mind. It pains me when television shows lack quality, but then hit so close to home that I can’t openly talk about them.

Still, last night’s episode of “Glee” really did a number on me. The plot of the episode had the show’s main antagonist, Sue Sylvester (played by Jane Lynch), dealing with the loss of her sister. Her sister had been afflicted with Down syndrome, but managed to make it past 40 years of life.

Sue explains to her rival teacher, Mr. Shue, that she was hopeful. Her sister, Jean, lived past 35; a year her doctors claimed would be her last. Then she got up to 40 and 45 and everything seemed great when she turned 50. Sue was shocked that everything was perfect the night before. Then she got a call in the morning and she heard the horrible news.

Why this hits so close to home for me is that I experienced a similar loss in my own life with my aunt. While my aunt didn’t suffer from a lifetime illness, when doctors diagnosed her with ALS, my family really didn’t know what to say. She was given 2 years to live and we all felt terrible.

Those 2 years weren’t easy, either. My aunt was a small ball of energy. We used to laugh about her height (a meager 4′ 10″), but she definitely could knock you out if you pushed her. She was a very lovable and quaint person, though she had a wild side when she felt it. Seeing her deteriorate was like watching any natural disaster and feeling helpless.

She first began to lose feeling in her legs, eventually losing the ability to walk. Next came her arms and those, too, lost function. Her voice began to go and along with that, her ability to hold up her head. It was essentially like having “locked-in” syndrome and she cried at nearly everything.

When she wanted to say something but couldn’t, she cried. When my uncle tried his best to speak to her and help her communicate, she got frustrated and cried. He learned how to use a very interesting vision based keyboard, but she never fully grasped the idea and would give up, much to my uncle’s dismay.

The saddest part, for me at least, is how her memory never faded. My uncle obviously had a lot on his mind, but my aunt didn’t forget my birthday. Of all the hardships she was facing, she still had that love in her heart and the retention of an elephant.

On “Glee”, Sue says to the Glee club something that I often say to myself.

“Jean was the nicest person I have ever known. As you can all tell, I’m probably the meanest person you’ll ever meet. Why wasn’t it my time?”

I may not have fully known my aunt, but she was easily one of the warmest and loving people in my life. Losing her was awful to me and all I can think about is how selfish I am. I remember the times in my school life where I was mean to my fellow classmates. I remember how awful I’ve treated some women in my life.

I think of how ungrateful I was for my mother’s love during my youth. I can’t escape how terrible I’ve treated some of my friends with my own headstrong attitude. What I really don’t understand, though, is why my aunt had to die.

I’m not going to spin this religiously, either. I am not a religious man, though that is mostly due to my aunt’s passing. Still, when evil persists in the world and good is taken out, what is the greater purpose?
So while last night’s Glee may not have been a good episode, it definitely is one that got me thinking.

Life is indeed awful, but I hope that by opening up a small bit to the community, that I can learn to grow and move past my inner doubts.

If nothing else, know that I never intend to harm anyone with my comments.