Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Adventures In Awesome: Want! Now! (1)

Note the (1) after the title of this post. I get the feeling I'm going to be doing this a lot, so totally plugged into the consumerist mindset am I. Every so often I rail against it, that ever-present unblinking pyramid eye that represents The Market, a monolithic soul-crushing generator of injustice every bit as invisible and dependent upon blind, unquestioning belief as all the myriad Sky-Gods of religion, and I worry that I'm nothing more than a brain-washed lever-pusher whose interaction with the economic machine amounts to little more than me chipping away at my own soul and handing over fragments of myself in exchange for fleeting moments of joy. It makes me sick to my guts. And then Activision announce (a month ago, but hey, I've been busy) they're releasing Guitar Hero for the DS, and look at the plastic rhythm-game pretty! ::enthusiastically pushes lever::

So purty! It will also include a special stylus pick to strum the screen, and other features include autograph signing in mid-song and using the mic to blow out onstage fires. And yes, it's all gimmicky surface stylings on a simple rhythm game, but it's the inventive use of the unique features of the DS that make it such a desirable object. The track line-up isn't announced yet (Nirvana and OK Go have been suggested, but that might be misreporting), and there will only be 20 songs, but I'm happy. I just hope the Guitar Grip peripheral fits into the clunky old non-Lite DS I have.

One thing I especially love about this is that it could be released at about the same time MTV Games finally releases the European version of Rock Band. Now, I'm angry that Activision have cynically blocked the patch that allows Guitar Hero peripherals to be used with Rock Band, and it's often little shitty manouevres like that that make me doubt the logic of allowing The Market to do what it wants. I mean, if the Market is the democracy-generating, self-regulating, benevolent and incorruptible God of Love that credulous evangelists like Thomas Friedman want you to think it is, how can Activision's mean-spirited anti-consumer move be good for anyone other than Activision's shareholders? Consumers get shafted, and somewhere in the world some corporate butt-nubbin gets to buy himself a brand new golf bag. Whoop-dee-fucking-doo. Here is an accurate visual representation of the actual relationship between The Market and the consumer.

And yet, I can't help but congratulate Activision on possibly spoiling MTV Games' rollout by bringing out a sensibly priced mini-alternative to Rock Band Europe, which is sickeningly, prohibitively, unfairly expensive. Even with Amazon knocking the price down, it's £40 for the game, and £100 for the peripherals (without Amazon's reductions, that's an RRP of £180!). That was the game I've been looking forward to most. Even more so than Lego Indiana Jones, Gears of War 2, Ninja Gaiden 2, Okami for Wii, and Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution put together. Even more so than the summer cinema releases that make me so crazy with anticipation. However, I think I'll pass. In the US the same game costs $148 (Amazon price). Convert the bucks to quids, and you're looking at £75.14 (£86.31 if you go by the RRP). Here is an accurate visual representation of the actual relationship between MTV Games and my soul's finger.

Thanks for the assist, Johnny! I will say this, though. Harmonix, thank you a million times over for inventing these magnificent games that have given me and Canyon and many guests to our home so much joy (and yeah, your interpretations of the game are more fluid and intuitive than Neversoft's commendable but slightly inferior adaptation), but why, how, why, why, why, how, why?!??!!!?! Is it just VAT? Is that responsible for a £100 mark-up? How can that be possible? I tell you, if there was a computer game made where the player has to throw rattles out of prams, I would buy that instead as a protest. Instead, Activision get a few more of my pounds. Guitar Hero On Tour FTW!

(P.S. Sorry about linking to that appalling book earlier. If you followed that link and were tempted to buy that inept pamphlet, ignore that, go here and do your brain a favour by buying Thomas Frank's One Market Under God.

It'll change your perception of the world for the better.)

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