EA Mobile was at CTIA this week to show off its upcoming “Rock Band” game for the iPhone and iPod Touch. The game, which is based on the popular console series, is clearly believed to be the next big hit on the iPhone. Rather than meet in a booth, EA was stationed in a Rock Band-branded bus that was parked at the Hard Rock Hotel. In private meetings, a few lucky people got to see a peek of the game and play it, too.
What’s truly impressive was the amount of time and energy that went into the development of the game. It took a year and about a dozen people in Montreal, Canada office to make the game. Rock Band for the iPhone has amazing graphics, but also has 20 songs in which the player can choose to play the drums, guitar, bass or vocals on easy, medium or difficult. Songs include, Smashing Pumpkins, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Foo Fighters, Blink-182, Beastie Boys and more. There’s a World Tour option that allows players to play at venues around the world. As you play, you unlock five of the 20 songs. There’s also 10 more songs ready to buy from within the game. But coolest of all is the multiplayer abilities.
Multi-player uses one of the unique abilities of the iPhone. You can play with up to three other of your friends, who are close by, by connecting your phones via Bluetooth. It’s not difficult to set up. One player starts a session, and then the three other people look on their phone to see if there’s any live sessions available. Then everyone connects and chooses what song and what instruments they want to play. True to the console version, the music is in sync on all of the phones and people play simultaneously. Obviously, because the game is being played on the device, all the instruments look fairly similar to a guitar with notes coming down the screen. At the bottom, there’s little drum pads if you are playing the drums, or picks if you are playing the guitar.
While playing together, it encourages interaction with “unison bonuses,” although it’s kind of hard to concentrate on playing and talking to one another at the same time. When you start doing particularly well, you’ll be able to power up. It will be more valuable if users do it by shaking their phone at the same time. It can also be used to save another player who is not doing well, like in the original game. While multi-player functionalities have been promised in mobile gaming for awhile, this is one of the most entertaining and best implementations yet.
In addition to being able to play your friends in person, you can also send a request over Facebook. Those sessions aren’t live and the user gets eight days to fill the request and play. The game will come out in the next couple of weeks for an undisclosed price.