The world went crazy for plastic guitars and fake drums in 2008, so 2009 was always going to be filled to the brim with market swamping content. Amongst others, we saw games for teeny boppers (Band Hero), games for suits on the commute (Rock Band Unplugged), games for metal kings (Guitar Hero: Metallica) and karaoke divas (Lips: Number One Hits). The brilliant Rhythm Paradise and Bit.Trip bravely went as far as to challenge the status quo by bringing us a fresh take on the whole Music/Rhythm genre. Finally, Apple Corp decided that it was about time Beatlemania swept the gaming world too and relaxed their iron grip on the Fab Four's legacy so a new generation could experience The Beatles in a whole new way.
If you're yet to sample any of the contenders below, be sure to click on the thumbnail or game title to look at a price comparison for all available platforms:
With a setlist skewed slightly more towards a younger demographic, Band Hero built upon the Guitar Hero 5 engine to provide an experience perfectly suited for your little sister. But Band Hero also introduced the Drum Skin for the DS Lite, which allowed for some finger tapping percussion on the train. Needless to say, it was awesome.
We couldn't really just name one game here, so we figured we'd bundle in the whole series. Following the continuing 80s, rhythm-based shenanigans of Commander Video, Bit.Trip was a glorious assortment of retro-themed rhythmic fun. From the Pong-style action of Beat to the Freudian-themed black hole of Void, the Bit.Trip series both thrilled and confused the hell out of us.
Attempting to build upon the success of Guitar Hero, Activision's DJ simulator was ambitious and expensive. But it was also a boatload of fun. DJ Shadow, DJ AM and Grandmaster Flash provided the beats, and the inventive new peripheral did the rest.
Guitar Hero 5 finally provided a whole host of new features that fans had clamouring for. You could jump straight in to the action thanks to the new Party Mode, there were more famous appearances than ever (including, controversially, Kurt Cobain), and you could have three vocalists or four drum sets if you had the gear. Finally, and it was about time, GH5 allowed for future library importing.
A paean to all things metal, this celebratory collection of Metallica's finest proved to be much more than just a simple track pack. Introducing concepts to the series such as the Expert+ difficulty and the Drum Over mode, it was clear to see that GH:M was crafted with sheer love for the source material.
While Activison appealed to fans of High School Musical, Harmonix teamed up with LEGO to try and widen their audience to the younger crowd. Now younger rockers could enjoy easier difficulty levels, no way to fail a song, and Traveller's Tales' excellent LEGO presentation. Even a semi-nude LEGO Iggy Pop made an appearance.
Lip: Number One Hits did exactly what it said on the tin, offering a selection of No. 1 singles from major global charts. With added avatar unlockables, a new note streak system and building on the motion sensitive microphone karaoke action of it's predecessor, Number One Hits aimed to provide a singing experience that would hit pole position, so to speak.
Marrying the addictive qualities of the best of the mini-game market, with cutesy presentation, and rhythm mechanics destined for the DS, Rhythm Paradise was one of the most original and fresh takes on this genre we'd seen in a while.
The Fab Four finally hit the console market. With entire peripheral sets designed around The Beatles' instruments, this was as much a journey through the band's history as a music game. The impressive setlist and the nostalgic presentation made for a fine piece of musical memorabilia as well as a band-oriented music game.
Unplugged was the first Rock Band release for the PSP, and you could play all of the instruments, giving you maximum control over your band. With 41 master tracks, and building on Harmonix's previous releases such as Frequency and Amplitude, Unplugged was a cracking musical debut for the series on the PSP.