Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 owners have been enjoying “Rock Band 2″ (rated T) ” my music game of choice ” for months now, and, if everything goes according to plan, Wii and PS2 gamers should be able to find the much-anticipated sequels in stores these past few days before Christmas. After what seemed like an eternity, the game finally shipped to stores around the middle of last week.
What took so long? It’s hard to know for certain, but the best explanation for the delay is that Harmonix and MTV Games had to figure out how to create a downloadable music store on the Wii. Unlike the PS3 and the majority of Xbox 360s, Wiis don’t have any kind of hard drive for storing songs. The system has a bit of flash memory, used to store game saves and downloads from WiiWare and the Virtual Console, but it’s not enough memory to handle more than a handful of tracks from the “Rock Band” library.
The solution to the Wii’s downloadable content problem is to allow “Rock Band 2” songs to be downloaded to SD cards, also used in digital cameras, cell phones and computers. If you fill up one card, you just get another. Presumably, you’ll be able to use your PC to shuttle songs between SD cards.
If you’re planning on buying “Rock Band 2” for the PS2, there will be no downloadable songs for you.
For all versions of “Rock Band 2,” the instruments from the first “Rock Band” are fully compatible. Some peripherals from other companies’ music games may be, as well. When in doubt, a little Google goes a long way. If you’re a savvy shopper, you might still be able to find a bundle including the original “Rock Band,” a microphone, and guitar and drum controllers. Many retailers marked them down to $99 late last month to make way for “Rock Band 2,” which costs $190 for a bundle including a mic, guitar and drumkit. The standalone game costs $50 on the Wii and PS2, $60 on the PS3 and 360.
The post-Thanksgiving release schedule has been pretty light, but a couple of games worth looking at have trickled out from publishers over the past few weeks, while I’ve been preoccupied with holiday buying guides and reviewing and sampling some of the dozens of big titles that came out between Labor Day and Turkey Day.
The best of these titles appears to be the new “Prince of Persia” (rated T, $60 on Xbox 360 or PS3). The latest installment in the long-running action franchise adopts a new, hand-drawn look and a great gameplay mechanic: co-op, single-player action. That’s right.
It’s a buddy game with no buddy. Instead of needing an actual friend to play, you’ll lean heavily on the Prince’s constant companion, Elika. She’ll help out in combat if you give her some direction, but most important, she’ll save your butt if you miss a jump. Instead of
requiring you to fall to your death and restart at the last checkpoint, “Prince” essentially uses Elika as a floating save spot. If you fall, she’ll save you and pull you back to safety, letting you attempt the dangerous deed once again without having to sit through a death sequence and a load screen. Genius.
Outside of “Rock Band 2,” “The Mushroom Men: Spore Wars” (rated E10+, $50) is the best-looking recent Wii game. It’s an independently produced, platform-style action/adventure title with some minor camera issues (a scourge of the genre, to be sure).