Friday, October 03, 2008
Beat not happening
Seems like it's always two steps forward and one step back in Rock Band 2. I'd mentioned recently that I seemed to be stuck between medium and hard difficulty on the drums. At this point, drumming on medium is almost boring -- which is not to suggest that I'm hitting 100% on most songs, just that I feel like I've got a handle on it and I'm ready for something new.
On my first attempt at increasing the difficulty, I attempted challenge mode on hard difficulty. Did all right for the first couple of songs, and then got trounced by "Give It Away," making it perhaps 20% of the way through the song before failing out. I retreated back to medium.
Last night, I quickplayed a few more songs on hard, and found to my suprise that I was owning them. During "Go Your Own Way," I couldn't believe my limbs were actually keeping up. I felt like they were doing all the work on their own, with my brain acting as a spectator. I earned five stars. That was also the case on a few other of the easier songs. Flush with confidence, I returned to my saved challenge game and restarted "Give It Away."
Well, this time I only failed after about 40%. There is a fundamental conceptual shift from the beats I've been playing succesfully, and the beat in "Give It Away." It's as hard as moving to hard mode on the guitar for the first time, when you have to learn to shift your hand up and down the neck. Instead of being iteratively more difficult, it requires you to learn an all-new mechanic. That's where the challenge and the fun both come from.
I don't know the terminology -- maybe Dan Bruno can help with this -- but the problem I'm having is that "Give It Away" starts to insert the bass drum in between hits on the pads. Other songs have done this, too, even on medium difficulty, but they haven't tripped me up in the same way. Usually that's because you at least ride one of the pads the whole way. Here, you ride the blue pad most of the time, except for one hit where the bass pedal takes its place. You sandwich that kick between two other beats: the blue pad by itself, and then the blue and red pad simultaneously. I can't make this work in my head. Playing at 80% speed in practice mode helped a little.
No doubt I'll get past this, sooner than later. That's how these games usually go. By Monday I'll probably be talking about how I ripped through several tiers of songs on hard mode. At least, that's the plan. But this is the difference between difficulty that entices and difficulty that discourages. Rock Band 2 gives you endless avenues for improvement, while dangling the carrot right in front of you. When I say that Mega Man 9 demonstrates, more than anything, how much games have changed, this contrast is what I'm talking about. Games today are your friends.