Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Continuing our climb with a variety of genres

This week we'll continue our routine of playing last week's new DLC, plus our worst songs by rank. The new songs have some great diversity in terms of genres (punk, indie rock, metal, country and pop-rock).

We'll play between 24 and 32 songs, allowing us to continue our climb of the "All Songs" Leaderboards. We're about 32M points behind 10th place "Mary G0 Round", so we'll try to gain at least 16M to pass them next week.

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week:

3. "All-American Girl", by Carrie Underwood: It's nice to have a fun country song as a single for a change, as they usually come in packs. This adds some variety to the game. As usual for country songs, the guitar chart is quite fun due to lots of movement. The song has a nice flow and it is fairly easy on most instruments except for vocals, which has some neat pitch variation between the chorus and the verses. Drummers, watch out for the slowdown at the end.

2. "Am I Crazy", by Little Fish: Wow, what a great song, definitely the best from this band this week, plus it is free! :) The drum chart is awesome, with a variety of fun patterns. The guitar is pretty easy, even if it contains triple chords. It's neat to see a bit more French content in the game (3 or 4 lines in this song).

1. "Los Angeles", by X: This song brings back a bit of Guitar Hero 80s nostalgia. It is short and sweet, fast, and full of early 80s punk energy. It can be a bit tricky on guitar and bass due to a few fast strumming sections. The "Get out" counterpoint from the female vocalist is great.

Honorable mention. "The Hungry Wolf", by X: This is another neat sounding song by X, with some fast rolls on drums, some tough strumming sections on bass, and some fun vocals. It is not as difficult as "I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts", but it is a better song overall.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A nice 18M point increase

This week we only played with the optimal line-up, apart from the Lady Gaga songs where Sylvie sang and Raikan played Bass. After playing last week's new DLC, we played our worst ranked songs (all songs with ranks higher than 325).

We gained 18M points for the evening (1,040M to 1,058M), helping us move up the "All Songs" Leaderboards. At this rate we'll be passing "Mary G0 Round" for 10th place in about 2 weeks.

- Stars breakdown for the 24 songs: Gold stars (13), 5 stars (10), 4 stars (1, for "Waking the Demon")
- Bongoo was the "Top Performer" for the most songs (14), followed by Sylvie (9), Raikan (6), and Phoenix (3)
- Bongoo had the most FCs (4), followed by Raikan (3), Sylvie (2), and Phoenix (1)
- The funniest wah-wah bass moments this week were during "Just Dance", "Control" and "Red Barchetta"
- It was neat to get another 2M point song for "The Who Super Bowl S-Mashup", but the song is so long that it was almost inevitable

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Starting our journey towards 10th all-console

This week we will definitely be passing "Heart." for 11th place in the "All Songs" Leaderboards because they are only 2M points ahead. We will start to gain ground on "Mary GO Round" for 10th place and a spot in the Hall of Fame! :)

We will be playing last week's new DLC, including all the new Lady Gaga songs. While they were enjoyable overall due to their catchy downtempo vibe, fairly challenging vocals, interesting techno sounds on guitar and bass, plus pretty funny "na-na-na-na" South Park spoof, the rest of the week's DLC make up the entirety of my top 3+ list.

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week:

3. "Control", by Mute Math: This song was pretty odd in the first two thirds, but what do you expect from the band that brought us the amazing mindwarp that is the "Typical" video. Making up for it are some great chrouses ("Beautiful Surrender...") and a neat-sounding buildup on all instruments near the end. The bass is interesting at times but the guitar chart is quite simple. The rolls on drums are very difficult but they are a lot of fun to try to master. I really liked the drum chart during the buildup at the end.

2. "It's Not My Time", by 3 Doors Down: The acoustic guitar intro sounded a little bit like the beginning of a Metallica song, but then it quickly morphs into a straightforward clean sounding rock song. What stands out in this song are the variety of fun and challenging drum fills, especially near the end, plus some vocals with nice pitch variation.

1. "The Who Super Bowl S-mashup", by The Who: This is an absolutely epic 5-song superset by a classic band! Relive the greatness that was The Who's performance at this year's Super Bowl (finally out for the PS3). I loved some of the challenging moments on bass in the 2nd half of the song. The end of "Baba O'Riley" was the toughest part on drums, but the funnest had to be the section at the end of "Who Are You".

Honorable mention. "Oh Yeah", by The Subways: This band deserves a mention because of their great drum charts. "Rock & Roll Queen" had some fun fills, followed by a neat "Maps"-like section. "Oh Yeah" edged it slightly in my opinion due to its unique rhythm and its stream of successive double hits. It is quite tough on Expert, but I had a great time trying to FC it on Hard.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Phoenix Down

This week Phoenix was down and couldn't play drums due to a back injury, and although he started playing Final Fantasy XIII recently, we didn't have a "Phoenix Down" to revive him... ;)

Raikan's girlfriend Chrissy filled in for Phoenix for most of the night on medium bass. Thanks for helping out! We all played different instruments this time around, with Raikan on drums, Sylvie on guitar, and Bongoo on vocals.

We nonetheless managed to increase our total score by 8M points, coming just 2M short of out goal of beating "Heart." for 11th place in the All-Songs Leaderboards.

- No stars breakdown this week as we didn't play many songs all on Expert difficulty
- Bongoo was the "Top Performer" for the most songs (20), followed by Bongoo (16), and then Phoenix and Raikan (3 each)
- Bongoo had the most FCs (16), followed by Raikan (1)
- We saw a weird glitch for the 1st time. After restarting a song while the drums and bass were in fail mode, the icon color for those 2 instruments was red instead of the usual white. It stayed that way for the whole song
- Bongoo played drums for "I.V." and one drum stick went flying through the air at the end of a fill. He got some style points for catching it in mid air and continuing to play as if nothing happened... :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"Heart." killer

While "Heartkiller" by HIM was released a little while ago, it's still close enough to have this fitting title, as we'll be passing the PS3 band "Heart." in the All-Songs Leaderboards this week. is temporarily down for a server upgrade, but we were 10M points behind "Heart." for 11th place after last week's point increase. We'll easily gain that by playing last week's 9 new DLC and our worst songs by rank.

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week:

3. "All of This", by Shaimus: A blast from the distant past, as this Guitar Hero 1 classic finally comes to Rock Band! The highlight of the song is the killer guitar solo, but it's happy tone makes it neat to hear and play on all instruments. The drum chart is simple but always changing.

2. "Hounds of Love", by The Futureheads: This song is quite catchy, as you'll be singing the "Oh oh oh" parts even if you're not on vocals. The bass chart is pretty simple, but the drums and vocals more than make up for it with some challenging and fun beats and phrases. There are also a few tricky hammer-on chords on guitar.

1. "Walk Away", by James Gang: This band just doesn't know how to make a boring drum beat... While not quite as good as the drum chart for "Funk #49", it's free-flowing sections throughout are a treat to play, especially during the "Seems to me" choruses. The bass chart is also a lot of fun.

Honorable mention. "The Hockey Theme", by Neil Peart: Rush drummer extraordinaire Neil Peart brings our "2nd national anthem" to Rock Band in brilliant fashion. Watch out if you're on Expert drums though, as it is quite tricky (should have been higher than tier 5). This is the 2nd song of the week with only 3 instruments ("Fell in Love with a Girl" by The White Stripes is the 1st song with no bass chart...).

Friday, March 12, 2010

Moving past the "ROCK BAND 3 kids"

This week we gained 23M points (1,009B t0 1,032B), allowing us to move past the "ROCK BAND 3 kids" for 12th place in the "All Songs" Leaderboards. Our next target is another PS3 band, "Heart.", which is 10M points ahead.

We played 33 songs, including last week's new DLC (Disturbed pack + singles), plus our worst songs by rank. We improved on every song we were not in the top 365, often improving our old score by 800K or more. All songs were played with the optimal line-up, except for the last 8-song set. Phoenix had an amazing performance on drums (see highlights), so he got a much needed break in the end by moving to vocals.

- Stars breakdown for the 33 songs: Gold stars (18), 5 stars (13), 4 stars (2, for "Downfall" and "I.V.")
- Sylvie was the "Top Performer" for the most songs (19), followed by Bongoo (16), and then Phoenix and Raikan (3 each)
- Bongoo had the most FCs (4), followed by Sylvie (2) and Raikan (1)
- We get 2M points for a song for the first time in a while ("Panic Switch")
- Phoenix did a great job playing "2 Minutes to Midnight" and "Mr. Brightside" back to back without missing a beat. Even better was his masterful performance during "Aesthetics of Hate", which allowed us to get a Gold star for a very tough song
- Sylvie's funniest wah-wah bass moments were during "Ride the Lightning" and "Celebrity Skin"
- We needed to hit the Big Rock Ending for "Kickstart My Heart" to get 1M points, but the drum pattern to hit was amazingly difficult...
- After about 1 and a half years playing RB2, we see a new image in the loading screen!? It had something to do with a tour with "Vanity Calamity"

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Rock Band 3 announced!

If you haven't heard already, Rock Band 3 has been officially announced for release in 2010! We'll be eagerly anticipating what the master innovators at Harmonix have in store for us.

How fitting then that this week we'll be trying to move up past the "ROCK BAND 3 kids", who are 20M points aheard of us in 12th place in the "All Songs" Leaderboards.

I now have sortings for "Rank", "Score", "Stars", "%-ile" and "Spread" bookmarked in my iPhone, so we'll be able to quickly select and play our worst songs for any of these categories.

In other news this week, Harmonix has realeased their Leaderboards API! That means that future updates will be much faster. I will be moving back to retrieving the full range of scores in the next update (top 100,000 for every song, including all RBN songs). Enjoy! :)

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week:

3. "Third Floor Story", by The Mother Hips: A very unique and groovy tune, it almost feels like a different band compared to their old RB1 song and DLC. It is particularly fun on bass.

2. "Panic Switch", by Silversun Pickups: This week was amazing for drummers, due in no small part to the two new DLC from this unique band. "Sort of" was quite a challenge on drums, especially during the guitar solo, but overall I preferred "Panic Switch". The patterns on guitar and drums are fast but they are always fun.

1. "Voices", by Disturbed: It was tough to pick a favorite from this trio of older Disturbed songs, but I picked "Voices" due to its great bass chart. If you play it on guitar, watch out for some tough chord changes at the end. "The Game" also had a really neat sounding bass section at the end. Overall, I really liked the drum charts for all of the new Disturbed DLC. There was a lot of interesting bass pedal patterns in all 3 songs.

Honorable mention. "Downfall", by Trust Company: This Nu-Metal song deserves a mention for its unique and fast drum patterns. The Harmonix drum charters have been on a roll lately (no pun intended)... I guess this made it an even split between Indie Rock and Nu-Metal DLC last week (although "The Mother Hips" is classified as Rock, they sound quite "Indie Rock"-ish).

Friday, March 5, 2010

Next goal: 1 trillion points

Hmm, unless DLC becomes free and super abundant, that will never happen... :)

We finally managed to reach 1 billion points this week. Fittingly, the song that got us over the edge was "Just for Tonight", by "One Night Only" (now ranked 1st for it). We played about 24 songs, gaining 15M points in the process, finishing with a total of 1.009 billion. That puts us in 13th place ahead of "dead 2 rightss" in the "All Songs" Leaderboards. Our next target are the "ROCK BAND 3 kids" (15M points ahead of us).

Sylvie was sick this week so after playing most of the new DLC, her cousin Blanche took over on Bass. She did a great job, even being the "Top Performer" at one point. Thanks for filling in! :)

For most of the night, we used our output on my iPhone to select our worst songs by rank. We improved on each song where we weren't yet in the top 1,000.

- Stars breakdown for the 24 songs: Gold stars (5), 5 stars (15), 4 stars (4)
- Bongoo was the "Top Performer" for the most songs (10), followed by Phoenix (8), Sylvie (7), Raikan (2) and Blanche (1)
- Bongoo had the most FCs (4), followed by Sylvie (1)
- The mystery about the missing "Green Day 01" scores was solved, as we realized we had forgotten to download them last summer... oops! :)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Joining an exclusive club

We are currently in 14th place in the "All Songs" Leaderboards, just behind the 13 bands that are part of a very special club: the bands with 1 billion points! With just 6 million points to go, we'll be joining them after playing last week's new DLC.

Yesterday's update was the first since the in-game and Leaderboards were fixed. All our scores now appear, so after playing the new DLC, we'll be playing our worst songs by rank or by score. It's impossible to sort by rank or by score in the game, but I now have an iPhone so it will be easy to load up our stats on before selecting songs.

One weird thing I noticed is that we are not ranked for the "Green Day 01" songs even though we played them last summer. We'll have to play them again to see if it makes a difference.

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week:

3. "Walking on the Moon", by The Police: This is a laid back reggae-infused song, with the highlight being the variety in the drum chart. Songs by this classic band have a tendency to get a bit a repetitive near the end, and this one is no exception (don't worry Sting, we are still "keeping up"...). Neverthless, it has a unique feel so it is worth checking out.

2. "Just for Tonight", by One Night Only: This neat-sounding British pop-rock song is fairly easy but it is quite fun on all instruments. There is one tougher fast-strumming section on guitar to look out for. I didn't expect it but it was a nice surprise. The drum chart is quite interesting too, with an intense solo followed by a really unique and fun drum pattern.

1. "Heartkiller", by HIM: This Finnish alternative rock group has some very good songs. This one was my favorite due to its great hooks and diversity. The drum chart has a number of neat double-hit patterns so you'll never get bored.

Honorable mention. "Ode to Solitude", by HIM: I liked the many heavy riffs in this song, but overall it lacked a bit of cohesion (what does it want to be?). It's a fairly good song on all instruments, but I remember the bass chart being quite enjoyable. This wasn't a metal song, but I hope we eventually get more Finnish metal in the future (more "Children of Bodom", "Kalmah", "Amorphis", "Finntroll", "Korpiklaani", "Nightwish" from the Tarja era, etc...)