Power Gig: Rise of the SixString Review

With such a full-featured and refined music game like Rock Band 3 now on the market, I find it hard to recommend Power Gig: Rise of the SixString to prospective virtual band members. While the concept of playing such a game with a real guitar is enticing, Power Gig seems content to leave it at that, without ever pushing the envelope or advancing the genre in any way other than its arguably gimmicky hardware.

I say gimmicky because, while the SixString is indeed a real, functional, electric guitar, its use within the game is limited to simple emulation of the button-based instruments that have been available as parts of the Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises for five yars. Five of the frets are designated with familiar colors, and in order to play any "note" called for by the song on screen, players simply hold down any number of strings on that particular fret and strum. With the introduction of the stringed accessory came the potential to incorporate real notes and chords into the game and successfully freshen the genre, but Seven45 Studios has chosen not to add that functionality and instead remain a sub-par third contender in a fight between heavyweights.

The SixString guitar is a solid design, and features a special string-locking mechanism that switches the guitar into and out of "game mode." This way, string movement is limited to the extent necessary for accurate game input, and the whole system does indeed work. However, players used to button input on other guitar peripherals will quickly notice the extra effort necessary to adequately depress strings onto frets versus simply tapping buttons. Along with accurately locating the proper frets, this takes a bit of getting used to. It is, however, the one area where Power Gig can claim to help improve players’ guitar skills, because over time, hand and finger position will naturally gravitate to the correct angles as a result of the success/failure feedback loop the game provides. It will also give players real guitarists’ callouses after extended play, and the relative discomfort of metal strings as opposed to plastic buttons is likely to shorten Power Gig play sessions for the average gamer.

As an actual instrument, the SixString is, well, not very good. It doesn’t produce the crisp sound one would expect from a normal guitar, but then again, that is to be expected from a videogame peripheral. It can connect to an amp, though, and for someone who doesn’t already own a guitar, it can be a nice practice tool.

Power Gig: Rise of the SixString

The game itself is notably primitive as far as band games are concerned. Its presentation is unimpressive, with simple orbs falling down either side of the screen for guitar and drums (no slappin’ de base), a vocal track running across the top, and basic venues and character animations existing in a virtual concert in the background. The guitar track (the only instrument available to GN at the time of this review) features the standard single, double, and open notes, as well as two-note power chords, which are more specific than the others. Power chords require the correct strings as well as frets, but will always maintain the same shape on the neck of the guitar. These are, in fact, real chords, if only simple and moderately useful ones in the world of music.

The game’s story mode is called "Unite the Clans," and centers around the fictional world of Ohm, where music has been outlawed and the players must play in makeshift venues to bring together the three main clans against the evil dictator, Headliner. This storyline is not only a way to try to make  things interesting for players, but also has an affect on how the game is played. Players must consider each venue’s fan base and choose appropriate songs and (non-customizable) band members according to clan alignment in order to achieve that venue’s "Mojomorphosis" and advance to the next stage. This design is vaguely interesting, but also perhaps too complex for a genre where the draw is really the music rather than any traditionally game-like features.

The track list is another concern. While the game features a roughly equivalent number of tracks to the likes of Rock Band and Guitar Hero, and although music is inherently such a subjective subject, I can’t help but criticize Power Gig‘s selection for its lack of more widely appealing songs and for omitting many of the selections one might expect from the included artists, especially headliners Eric Clapton and Dave Matthews.

Power Gig: Rise of the SixString had a lot going for it when Seven45 Studios decided to throw a real guitar into the mix, but what they failed to do was back such a great idea with the strong gameplay necessary to be a true competitor. The presence of guitar strings becomes a moot issue when the game doesn’t provide the option to work with a full range of real notes and chords. The basic gameplay is functional and enjoyable, but this product still feels a bit primitive in light of what else is now available for gamers.

2 out of 5


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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