Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Beatles: Now a bit like Sonic The Hedgehog

The appearance of The Beatles on Rock Band - uniting the world's most over-rated band with one of the most perplexing toys - is about to unleash its hypewave over us, starting with a massive chunk of Wired reporting on the process of turning The Beatles songs into games:

At the end of the video presentation, the two surviving flesh-and-blood band members, Ringo Starr, 69, and Paul McCartney, 67, take the stage for a surprise appearance. Standing side by side, the pair look slightly befuddled by the moment. For these been-there, done-that rockers, flogging a videogame is a first. "We love the game, it's fantastic," McCartney says. "Who would've ever thought we'd end up as androids?" No one, perhaps, except a few ambitious executives at MTV.

The constant suggestion is that The Beatles doing anything related to commerce is unusual - ooh, you persuaded The Beatles to make even more money; how cunning. It does, though, fly in the face of the evidence of Beatles tea towels and shoelaces that shows that the question is never about the idea of a deal, just a debate over how much cash we're talking about.

Still, at least the MTV team who made the game really understand The Beatles, don't they?
[A]lthough Martin and Rigopulos had figured out how to marry the Beatles' music to the Rock Band format, the developers still had a long way to go. The original Rock Band let players assume the role of a generic rocker and gradually gain experience and a bigger repertoire, thus accessing more fans, cooler clothes, bigger venues, a larger entourage, and all the other accoutrements of rock-and-roll stardom. "Right away, we realized this wouldn't work for the Beatles," Rigopulos says. "They had all that stuff—fans, money, stardom—almost from the beginning.

Eh? Right from the beginning? Well, I suppose if you ignore the bit between 1957 and the back end of 1962, they did.

Still, at least there is something realistic in the game's make-up: it's been buggered about by Yoko Ono:
By spring, the Harmonix crew had completed a rough build of the entire game. Yoko Ono, whose involvement up to then had been minimal, decided to fly to Boston to provide her own distinct brand of input. "She gave the designers hell," DeGooyer says.

"She's an artist," Rigopulos adds, "so she was very concerned with the look of the game. She really held our feet to the fire." Ono made specific suggestions, like proposing that the game's final scene—the Beatles' infamous rooftop concert on the Apple Corps building in Knightsbridge — look windier.

Her criticism sent Harmonix scurrying to improve the graphics. At that point, the E3 conference and the game's debut was just three months away. "We were like, oh, gee. Thanks," Rigopulos says. "It would have been nice to know that six months ago, but yes, thank you very much."

They did hold fast in the face of her proposals that the digital version of John Lennon should actually quit the digital version of the band and instead make songs about how it's terrible having money from the top of a massive pile of money.

Still, the fans will surely be falling over each other in order to get what they believe is the finest body of recorded work from the finest band which ever lived, in order to see how much better it would have been if they'd played bass and Larry's girl from over the road was on drums instead.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm a big Beatles fan but this whole Rock Band thing is completely beyond me. I mean I get why The Beatles are doing it (money), it's just that I don't really understand what anyone who likes music can possibly get from the games. Did you ever sit around thinking I would love to hit a crappy plastic toy whilst listening to this? I'll stick to air guitar for just now.

Also, much as I am also a fan of Yoko Ono's music (albeit seemingly the only one who is open about it in the world, even if it is only in anonymous blog comments), I'm not quite sure what she thinks is actually involved in the game. I mean the graphics in these things are basically just colours sliding down a screen. There really isn't any way to go wrong with that. The other bits will probably be skipped by every player after one go.

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