Features// Rhythm and the Revolution

Posted 25 Jul 2008 17:41 by
Mad Maestro!
Mad Maestro!
In 1998 FV Productions gave it a go with Unsigned on Windows and the 360. An early Rock Band type game with guitar, drums and singing, it pre-empted its way into the world using the keyboard as a rudimentary instrument (not the most involving of techniques) or a joystick. Nobody seems to remember it.

Perhaps, sticking with the evolution analogy, this could be the equivalent of those squiddish creatures living in the unfathomable, darkest depths of the ocean which have the best eyesight on the planet in a world lacking any light whatsoever. Were we that dark, sightless ocean or was the lack of peripherals what made such an invention pointless?

Guitar Freaks was the more memorable arcade game, but that seems to have sunk into comparative oblivion too, minus a few die-hard fans who add to my joy for the world by defending themselves against Youtube commentators with such insightful views as ?Wow you gotta be on meth with justin3 dude and smoke 3 bags of pot to play that shit?. Thanks copyninja4.

It seemed that many planets of social inhibition would have to fall into universal alignment before the world would be ready.

One of those planets was singing based. The drunken warblings of karaoke players had been brutalising more sober ears for a decade or more before PaRappa the Rapper came along with his cheeky hat and badittude in 1998. This hit the the tail-end of that popular musical genre 'rapping', which was popular by this point with the average young, white, middle-class gamer whose only connection to 'the hood' was when their mum made them wear their duffel coats on their first day of high school and they were roundly beaten up by their puffa-jacketed bretheren.

It took until the 2004 release of Singstar for these beatings to be repressed enough to enable older gamers to shelve their fears and join in with a new, louder, more confident generation. Suddenly your average drinker was swinging from a bottle of WKD while using the other arm to hang around the neck of a man with a goatee, glasses and a Nintendo tattoo, both wailing joyously along to classics of pop and rock.

Singstar
Singstar
Finally it seemed the ingredients were there: the masses of all ages and backgrounds were interested in video games having been brought up with them to a greater or lesser extent; our drinking culture had hit depths of indignity where it no longer mattered who or what was done; plus having a bit of a sing-song to Take On Me was a way of replacing the drinking songs of old (which were attached to specific times and places) with a tune which could span the many differences within our culture in a supposedly terror-struck, neighbour-fearing society. Plus that bit where it goes ?...in a DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYY!!!!? is quite fun to do pissed.

The planets were aligning. As the government reminded us daily of our obese, slovenly, ill-educated, asthmatic ugliness, the Wii proved that people wanted to get active and find a balancing point between fun and health. In the same month Guitar Hero struck and it seemed that, in the words of Melanie Chisholm, things would never be the same again.
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