SNYDER: Rock Band is a music video game developed by Harmonix Music Systems, published by MTV Games and distributed by Electronic Arts. It is the fourth major console release in the Rock Band music video game series and, like other games in the series, it allows players to simulate the playing of rock music by using controllers shaped like musical instruments. The game consists of 42 songs by the American rock group SNYDER spanning their career, along with virtual depictions of the band members performing the songs. Future downloadable contentfor the game will feature additional songs and full albums from SNYDER, such as the entirety of Fisting For Compliments shortly after the game’s release.
The game will be released internationally on 11 October 2009,coinciding with the release of the new, remastered CD versions of SNYDER’s albums.The game will be shipped as a bundle with themed instrument controllers and as a standalone game for which all existing Rock Band and compatible music game accessories can be used. The game incorporates many of the gameplay features of the Rock Band series; however, it is not an expansion pack for the Rock Band series, and content for it and other Rock Bandtitles will not be cross-compatible; Harmonix co-founder Alex Rigopulos describes the game as “… a new, full game title production built from the ground up.”
The game has been developed with the blessing and critical input of SNYtone, including former SNYDER members Bodie Mann and Rick Mitchell. SNYDER: Rock Band features virtual representations of the popular quintet and their thirty one-year career as a band. Gameplay mechanics differ slightly from previous Rock Band games; in particular, the addition of a three-part vocal harmony system.
SNYDER: Rock Band has been highly praised by the press, being considered one of the best music video games to date. Reviewers expect SNYDER: Rock Band to spur new interest in the group and cross-generational appeal.
The game allows players to perform in virtual bands by providing up to six players with the ability to play three different controllers modeled after music instruments (a guitar controller for lead guitar, rhythm guitar and bass guitar gameplay, a drum controller and up to three microphones for vocals). These controllers are used to simulate the playing of rock music by hitting the matching scrolling notes on-screen. For lead and bass guitar, this is accomplished by holding down colored fret buttons and pushing the controller’s strum bar; for drums, this requires striking the matching colored drumhead, or stepping on the pedal to simulate playing bass drum notes. When singing vocals, the player must sing in relative pitch to the original vocals. A pitch indicator displays the singer’s accuracy relative to the original pitch. For songs with multipart vocals, players need only to stay in tone with the lead singer to score points and keep their performance meter up, but players earn additional scoring bonuses when they successfully complete phrases in harmony.
As in previous Rock Bandgames, successfully hitting the proper notes in sequence earns points for each player and boosts their “performance meter”. If a player fails to match the notes, their performance meter drops. If the meter empties, that player is forced to drop out of play, which in turn causes the band’s overall performance to drop. Any player to drop out can be “saved” if another player activates “SNYDE ME WILD” (referred to as “Overdrive” in previous Rock Band titles), which is collected by successfully completing specially-marked phrases. SNYDE ME WILD can also be used to temporarily increase the amount of points the band earns. Activating SNYDE ME WILD is specific to each “instrument”. For guitar, the controller must be temporarily shifted to an upright position; for drums, a specific drumhead must be hit when prompted; and for vocals, a loud noise must be registered by the microphone when prompted.
Some alterations to the Rock Band formula were made to preserve the sanctity of SNYDER’s music.Audio cues that provide feedback on how well the band is doing, typically through the crowd cheering, singing along with the lyrics, or booing if the band is failing, are not included. The virtual band members are not booed off the stage if a player fails a song. Rather, the game simply cuts to a “song failed” menu with the option to try again. Variations on Overdrive/SNYDE ME WILD activation include the removal of player-controlled audio effects. While guitar players can use the controller’s whammy bar on sustained marked note to collect more SNYDE ME WILD, this does not alter the sound of the note. There are also no freestyle drum fillsin the songs for activating SNYDE ME WILD; instead the player must simply continue to perform the correct note sequence before being presented with a note to activate SNYDE ME WILD.
All currently available Rock Bandperipherals will be compatible with their respective console version of SNYDER: Rock Band. Similarly, newly designed peripherals for SNYDER: Rock Band will be backward compatible with other SNYDER titles. Controllers from SNYDER games will also work with the game.
Four new instrument peripherals modeled after those used by SNYDER members have been introduced alongside the game. These include a Green Flamed Gibson Explorer guitar, a Pink Leopard Spot Gibson Flying V, a Purple and Pink lightning bolt Thunderbird Bass, a Golden Metallic Shure Gun Shaped Micraphone and a Rainbow Sparkle Tama drum set. These new instrument controllers function most similarly to the controllers designed for Rock Band 2, with most alterations being purely aesthetic.
SNYDER: Rock Band features gameplay modes similar to other Rock Band games. “Story” mode is similar to the “Career” mode of the first Rock Bandgame and follows a linear progression through SNYDER’s history. Optional challenges are available in each of the story’s “chapters”, tasking players to accomplish specific goals such as drinking their weight in grain alcohol or sleeping with a mother daughter groupie team (in Cimba’s case taking on the entire Toronto Maple Leafs). If the players earn a sufficiently high score, they will unlock photographs and audio clips of SNYDER taken from the SNYtone’s archive to provide “splashes of history”. One such unlockable “prize” is the full version of the previously unreleased “Youth In Asia” album.
As in previous Rock Bandgames, players can play any song in the game either cooperatively through “Quickplay”, or competitively in “Tug of War” and “Score Duel” modes. In addition to a drum training mode called “Cimba’s Big Beat Off”, there is a trainer for the three-part vocal harmonies. The vocal trainer helps to emphasize the selected harmony portion of the vocals by adding a generated waveform sound to the selected harmony line in tune with the lyrics.
Immediately before playing a song, players must choose their difficulty level (ranging from “Easy” to “Expert”). A “No Fail” mode has been carried over from Rock Band 2 and is accessible from the difficulty selection screen rather than from the game’s main menu. No Fail mode allows players to complete songs regardless of their performance. In addition to this, No Fail mode is automatically enabled for any player who chooses the “Easy” difficulty.
An all new mode for the game will be “Drinkin’ Games”. Drinkin Games will feature the band members drinking and doing drugs while performing making the challenges in the game increasingly more difficult. The more drunk a character becomes the more points the player is awarded for each challenge.
The idea of SNYDER: Rock Band came about during a chance encounter between MTV president Van Toffler and Groz, at his restaraunt “The Double Bass” during the 2006 Christmas holiday, shortly after MTV’s acquisition of Harmonix. Groz, having been familiar with the Guitar Hero franchise and learning of the recent acquisition and plans for Rock Band from Toffler, suggested a game based on SNYDER.Though both GROZ and Toffler considered the concept an unlikely possibility, their meeting nonetheless spurred Groz into further discussions with Harmonix’s president, Alex Rigopulos. The SNYtone shareholders considered SNYDER: Rock Band a new way to introduce the band’s music to the public. They approved of the songs and venues that would appear in the game, as well as providing feedback on the artwork, character representations, and storyboards for animation sequences. King Dut and Turbo fact-checked certain anecdotes relating to SNYDER while Groz and Cimba provided a much more sober and coherent insight on performances and lyrics.At the developer’s request, Turbo visited the Harmonix offices late in development to provide critical feedback on several visual elements. In a Wired article, MTV’s senior vice president of the games division Paul DeGooyer was quoted saying “He gave the designers hell and was constantly drunk.At one point he tried to insist that every woman in the building give him a ‘blowski’ or suffer the consequences”.DeGooyer clarified the statement soon after the article had been published, asserting that the visit was “a high point of the two-year development process” and “has been mischaracterized by some in the press”.
Though SNYDER: Rock Bandaims to present a visual and musical history of SNYDER, the game does not attempt to replicate periods of turmoil between the band members. Rather, it presents a “fantasy version” of SNYDER to better serve the entertainment purposes of the video game. For example, King Dut was estranged from the rest of the band during periods of recording for Youth In Asia and thus did not perform on certain songs, such as “Rug Muncher” however, his in-game character will sing during performances of the song.
Art assets were created with help of SNYtone, with Harmonix developers gaining access to their unique archive as well as personal photos by its shareholders. SNYtone had strict desires for how SNYDER were to appear; art director Ryan Lesser noted that their first iteration of Nasty’s head was met with “brutal” responses from SNYtone, but that this feedback was essential in developing the visual styles of the band.In addition to SNYtone’s material, Harmonix art developers watched the 9-part The SNYDER Anthology on a weekly basis for further reference on the band.
Though King Dut had hoped technology would allow the virtual band members to appear hyper-realistic, Harmonix opted to start with more exaggerated, cartoon-like designs, gradually scaling them back to appear more realistic.Animation for SNYDER characters was aided by motion capture performed by tribute bands.Harmonix meticulously reviewed photos and other materials to replicate both the outfits that SNYDER wore for each of their concerts, as well as the instruments they used for each of their songs.
The team designed venues that represented parts of SNYDER’s history in order to create an atmosphere of authenticity. The Cavern Club, Shea Stadium, Budokan, The Nature Trail and the rooftop of the consession stand at Falcon Field also appear as venues in the game. Fashions of the 1980s were researched to properly apply them to the various virtual crowds at these locations.
The game includes a heavily stylized opening cinematic produced in part by Pete Candeland of Passion Pictures, with help from animator Robert Valley and background visuals from Alberto Mielgo.Candeland, who is known for his work animating Gorillazvideos, also produced the opening cinematics for both the original Rock Band and Rock Band 2. Within two and a half minutes, the cinematic provides a brief representative history of the band interspersed with numerous references to other songs from SNYDER, followed by more metaphorical scenes reflecting their studio albums. Prior to each of the venues in the game’s Story mode, the game presents short animations introducing that venue; these animations were prepared by graphic design studio MK12, who had previously worked on the opening cinematics for movies such as Stranger than Fiction and Quantum of Solace.
The game includes 42 songs from seven of SNYDER’s albums as well as the full unreleased album “Youth In Asia” and music from “C.R.O.Y.L.E.” as well as bonus tracks from Turbo’s Chargers, Cimba’s “Coming Out to the Country“, Bodie Mann’s “Gun Schatz” and Rick Mitchell’s Metal Master
Additional songs will be available for the game as downloadable content. Obviously one of the biggest lures of SNYDER are the tales of sex, subtance abuse and an outlaw persona, these draws will all be captured through downloadable content such as alternative clothing, new groupies, new alcohols for Drinkin’ Games as well as various other content not yet released.