As we've celebrated the PSP's fifth birthday this year - and by celebrated I mean we sort of shrugged a little and sighed - it's been debated in the media whether or not the PSP was a big fat white elephant. I take a certain amount of umbrage with this simply because there are some very good games out there for Sony's brick, and Rock Band Unplugged is certainly one of them.
You can pick up Harmonix's band simulator for under £15 from Play at the moment, saving your a pound or so on the nearest competitor. GAME did have it a while back for £7.99, but that went pretty quickly as you might expect.
The game has received a mixed response as people have been disappointed that it’s not really Rock Band. While this may be true, in reality the game actually predates the entire Guitar Hero phenomenon. Plus it'd be a bit hard to fit a guitar and drum kit in your pocket.
Many years ago before people were rocking out with plastic guitars and drums while screaming down microphones, Harmonix released the game Frequency on the PS2. It was a music game played by pressing three buttons on the controller to match notches coming down the screen. The piece of music was broken down into eight tracks with one or more of drums, guitar, sfx and vocals. Once a bar had been successfully played, it would then play automatically and the player would then move to a different track. Frequency received good reviews but failed commercially as the game’s setlist and the gameplay made the game inaccessible.
Frequency was followed up by Amplitude, which kept the same core gameplay but added a more mainstream tracklist and online play. Again it was well received critically but failed to make any impact at retail. While there were rumours of another sequel titled Velocity, Harmonix instead developed the Karaoke Revolution series of Konami.
Skip forward a few years and Harmonix has hit the big time - largely thanks to getting a leg up from Activision - and Rock Band Unplugged mixes the original Frequency/Amplitude gameplay with Rock Band giving four tracks (drums, vocals, guitar, bass) each with four notes matching to left, up, triangle and circle and using the L/R buttons to change between the tracks. There’s no multiplayer, but most people will prefer playing with the bigger console versions together. For those wanting a slice of Harmonix on the train ride to work without the hand cramp inducing controller for the Guitar Hero DS series, then Rock Band Unplugged is definitely worth a look.