Monday, December 27, 2010

Rock Band 3 Keyboards! Part 2: Welcome To Hell

Ok, now the Christmas fallout is over.  I got a digital camera, a new desktop computer (one that can hopefully run HL Source games), a bunch of polo t-shirts, and a set of 1996 Indianapolis 500 Micro Machines.  I might add I love Micro Machines and any small toy cars (Hot Wheels can bite me), but I'll get to that someday.

But most of all, I picked up the Rock Band 3 Clavier Keyboard with stand...alright, I'm super pumped!  So that's the first present I opened up.

Now I've already talked about RB3 Keyboards before.  My initial reactions were slightly off (ex. you can't play Guitar and Keys in the same song) but regardless, you have the option to play Pro Keys.  That spans the entire length of 25 keys.  On the contrary, normal Keys is just 5 notes--C, D, E, F, G.  You have the option of holding the keyboard like a guitar (sling it over your shoulder), but I'd rather do like everyone else and lay the thing down on a surface.

But I said that everyone thought that Pro Keys on Hard/Expert was really hard and I thought I could take it, but no, it's THAT HARD.  And this is coming from someone with over five years of piano lessons.  There's four reasons why:

1. You usually have no idea where your hands are.  So you'll see a note and go for it and you completely whiff it.  Yes, you may say "I'll keep my hands here and remember from now on," but then you have to jump around, especially with the black keys which throw you off.  The game tries to make it easy by color-coding the lanes, but it only helps a little.

2. You get hit in the face with a chord and no matter how slow it comes, your brain misfires and you miss it.

3. Fat fingers--you go for a note but accidentally hit another one too.  Bam, miss the note.  Even if you know which notes to hit, it can be hard to keep a combo going at first.

4. I wouldn't say this is a difficulty concern, but on some songs, you spend a lot of time idle waiting for notes to pop up.  I just finished playing Radar Love and you have to sit there for a minute, play some hard chords, wait, play hard chords, repeat.  Makes going for high scores more aggravating.

NOTE: One egregious offender is Rock Lobster.  Once the guy goes "It's a giant clam!  Down, down..." after those two-note repeated chords, just get up and walk away.  Or party on the beach.  Or beat your head against the keyboard.  No more notes for the rest of the song.  Hey, at least it was an easy FC for me!

And about the "whammy bar" touch pad and the Overdrive button--that's on the left side of the keyboard.  So in theory, you're supposed to play the entire chart one-handed, but that doesn't stop people from using both.  Like this:

Hardest Pro Keys song in the game.  Now this guy deploys a good strategy--place the keyboard near the screen so you can see both at a time.  I haven't tried it, but you can better see where your hands are.

Now unlike regular Guitar/Bass/Drums/Keys, you need to practice beforehand.  Unless you're some sort of prodigy like Mozart, Liszt, or Danny (AKA GHPhenom), then you probably can't do it.  Like throw up any moderate song--I'm not like the lady at church who plays any hymn on the piano or organ like that--no, not at all.  Yes, you can turn No Fail on and still submit scores to the Leaderboards, but unless you feel like flailing around, then practice or play on Easy/Medium difficulty.  The game does try to make it easy by offering you some training lessons for each song--specifically practice the hard bits over and over again until you get it.  Unfortunately, these segments don't cover every hard part of the song which kind of sucks.

I just finished 5-starring all the Warmup Pro-Keys songs on Expert and even though it's not much, it still feels good.  Just being able to get a combo going on something easy is tedious.  Crap like Oh My God and Radar Love seem easy, but it's a few big chords and you can't afford to break your combo or miss that many Overdrive segments to have a chance.  The only reasons these songs are labeled as easy is because with so few notes, it's hard to fail.

You have to fight your battles one at a time.  If you don't know how to do something, start on easy then move up as you go along.  Like a tube of toothpaste--roll it up from the back to front.  I don't know how long I'll take this Pro Keys stuff seriously since it's so damn tedious.  I'll probably go back to Guitar soon which I'm much better at.

So anyway, that's enough of the rant.  If you like pianos, give it a shot.  You've got to put practice into it though.  UPDATE: I've gotten a lot better at Pro Keys (it's May 2011 and I've already 5-starred many Tier 5 thru 7 songs), I'll get back to you later about that.

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