Rock Band 3 Makes Room on Stage for the Pianoman

The Rock Band series has been a leading innovator of the ‘band’ games, with frequently updated downloadable tracks, a revolutionary online multiplayer, and (lets not forget) the introduction of drums and singing to the mix. However, recent trends in sales have many believing the interest in such titles is diminishing, and possibly that rhythm games are nothing more than a dying fad. We can assume, without a doubt, that the creators at Harmonix have held many meetings to discuss new ways to retain their audience and keep their music/rhythm games fresh. Now, with less than a month until their E3 presentation, new footage has been uncovered that points the way for some exciting efforts to reinvigorate the series.

Recently, Harmonix sent out invitations to their E3 Rock Band 3 demo/hands on session, which included a downloadable demo of Green Day: Rock Band. The final screen in the demo, shown above, is simply the number 3 in the Rock Band font, and the symbols for each of the instruments in the band. But as you can see, there’s one extra symbol that hasn’t accompanied the others in previous images: piano keys. The keyboard seems to indicate that, once again, the band will be expanded; now to include a total of seven possible members.

I thought the 80's guitar game already came out?

But there’s even more- it seems a ‘famous’ Mole over at Ars Technica has broken the news that it will not be a keyboard supported by the new game, but instead a piano-like guitar, or keytar (image to the right). According to his record, this mole has been right on the money with his predictions, so it is very likely that this tidbit will follow suit.

As for all the band equipment, a partnership has been announced between Mad Catz and Harmonix stating that all of the peripherals for the Rock Band series, including number 3, are going to be produced and distributed by Mad Catz for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii systems. Many bundles with different combinations of instruments will be available, and all previous Rock Band instruments will work on the sequel.

Furthermore, Rock Band 3 is slated to include a “Pro Mode”:

…and we’re told that there will be a “pro” mode included in the game that will require proper technique, and may lead to actual skills on guitars and bass. How this will work isn’t known, but it’s possible Mad Catz may create a product that more closely mimics an actual guitar.

It will be interesting to see if this “Pro Mode” will be the result of an overhaul to the instruments that somehow gives them another level of realism and depth. More likely though, this mode will be used with the instruments that have more accurately received the digital treatment, like drums, mic and possibly the piano.

Regardless, the inclusion of the piano or keytar is sure to be a fan pleaser as it has been a long clamored for addition to the mix. As far back as the first Guitar Hero, we wished we could rock out as the fat pianist,”Larry”, with his pot belly and stained wife-beater. Remember him?

Expect more information in the coming weeks, and a complete reveal during their conference at E3.

[Source 1] [Source 2]