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The 10 Best Video Games Based on Bands

Nothing beats rocking out and battling bosses with The Beatles, Aerosmith and Journey

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    In celebration of National Video Game Day, we’re revisiting our list of the best video games based on bands.

    This week, the Los Angeles Convention Center hosts the Electronic Entertainment Expo, otherwise known as E3, which showcases the hottest upcoming video games and game-related software. Wondering what will follow Xbox 360? Are you still waiting for that new Tomb Raider follow up? Getting tired of the Kinect and in need of something more? Pending this week’s results, you might have answers to all of those questions.

    In light of the festivities, Consequence of Sound waxed nostalgic and felt the urge to talk shop, asking one question: “What bands have made use of the video game medium?” The geekiest contributors over here suggested some ridiculous titles and then chiseled it down to ten (mostly) admirable titles. Some might surprise you of its existence, others might remind you why you should still be playing them. Whatever the case, we’re hoping this list changes in the future — perhaps this year’s showcase has some worthy contenders. We’ll find out at the end of this week!

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    For now, click away to start playing reading.

    –Michael Roffman
    Editor-in-Chief

    p.s. If you’re looking for full coverage of E3, don’t forget to follow any and all updates from our friends over at Nerdy Show!

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    The Beatles: Rock Band

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    Artist: The Beatles
    Released: 2009
    Platform(s): PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360

    They’re the greatest band in popular music history, so why shouldn’t we have expected them to issue the greatest music game in modern gaming history? In 2009, that’s exactly what Harmonix Music Systems did when they released The Beatles: Rock Band. Everything about this product sings with quality; from the meticulously detailed, Apple Corps-assisted artwork to the creative use of unreleased studio chatter placed amid loading screens to the inclusion of harmonies that only added emphasis to each song and the player’s experience. The developers spared no expense and, in most cases, went the extra mile. Not only did they receive help from George Harrison’s son, Dhani, but they even hired acclaimed Beatles impersonators for motion capturing.

    Although the game’s admittedly short, the replay factor is high, which comes as no surprise given that, well, it’s The Beatles. For over 50 years, people have spun A Hard Day’s Night or Abbey Road religiously, and that ideology explains why the game’s so alluring even three years later. While the Rock Band franchise fades into obscurity, this gem of a game stands on its own — it represents the peak of its kind. Perhaps that’s why few gamers are interested in the other Rock Band products anymore; think about it, where do you go once you’ve climbed Everest? –Michael Roffman


    Britney’s Dance Beat

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    Artist: Britney Spears
    Released: 2002
    Platform(s): Game Boy Advance, PC, PlayStation 2

    In 2002, one couldn’t turn on the television without seeing or hearing Britney Spears — she was arguably at her career best. In the previous year, she became the only female artist in SoundScan history to have their first three albums debut at number one, and she’d break that record again a year later with the release of her fourth studio LP, In the Zone. So, it only made sense that she would get her own video game.

    THQ issued Britney’s Dance Beat to commercial success. It wasn’t the first rhythm game of its kind — the Spice Girls beat her to that back in ’98 with the critically panned Spice World — but it’s really the first artist-endorsed one that worked. It would be years before the Kinect came in and changed everything, so players had to follow dance moves strictly through a variation of buttons — basically, it was a high-tech, more colorful version of Simon. Players took on the role of a faceless dancer trying out for Britney Spears’ dance crew, and each win would unlock a number of exclusive videos. As GameSpot wrote back in ’02, “…Britney fanatics will undoubtedly walk away with a smile.” They still do. –Michael Roffman


    Brütal Legend

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    Artist(s): Jack Black, Ozzy Osbourne, Lita Ford, Lemmy Kilmister
    Released: 2009
    Platform(s): PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

    Even the world of gaming has its living legends, and game designer Tim Schaffer (Psychonauts,The Secret of Monkey Island) is one of them. In 2009, Schaffer brought his love of metal music to nearly every aspect of the pixelated world of Brütal Legend, the design of which was inspired by heavy metal album covers. As the Jack Black-voiced roadie Eddie Riggs (named for Iron Maiden’s Eddie the Head mascot and his creator Derek Riggs, designed as a mix of Black and Glenn Danzig), players battle the minions of Doviculus (voiced by Tim Curry, though Ronnie James Dio had recorded some of the game before being replaced) and his henchman General Lionwhyte, who is voiced by Rob Halford, designed after David Bowie and David Lee Roth and named after glammetal band White Lion.

    Along the way, there’s aid from Kill Master, voiced and designed fittingly after Lemmy Kilmister; Fire Baron, designed after and voiced by Halford; Amazonian Rima, voiced by Lita Ford and made up like KISS; and the Guardian of Metal, AKA Ozzy Osbourne. And it just goes on and on like that, with nigh every character, setting, plot point, and even bit of dialogue a nod to metaldom. It’s like a metal head Easter Egg hunt trying to pick up on all the references. What’s even better (and entirely unsurprising for a Schaffer work), is that it’s a damn fine game, earning an 82 on Metacritic. –Ben Kaye


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