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Description

With Rock Band Unplugged, Harmonix' music series comes to a handheld platform for the first time. Based on the same gameplay concept of hitting scrolling notes on screen in time with the music, Unplugged adapts the concept for play via buttons instead of instrument controllers while retaining most playing modes and options present in Rock Band and Rock Band 2.

The main playing mode is Tour mode, in which players create a band and tour through cities, playing setlists to gain fans, money and stars, unlocking new songs and venues in the process. Money can be spent to hire staff and outfit the band members in the in-game store. Unlocked songs can be played in Quick Play mode without the need to create a band.

When playing a song, the player controls all four tracks: bass, drums, vocals and guitar. The four tracks are displayed side-by-side and can be moved between at will. Each consists of four note tracks, mapped to buttons on the left and right of the display. To make playing an entire song possible in this way, the concept of phrases is introduced. A phrase is a short piece on a single track. When all notes in a phrase are hit, the track continues to play on its own for a while. Completing a phrase increases the score multiplier and takes the pressure off the player since not all tracks are in need of playing at the same time. Failing phrases however can cause an instrument track to fail out and the performance to fail altogether in the end. To bring back failed instruments, the other instruments can employ Overdrive, which works the same way as in other games in the series: when a series of bright notes is hit, the Overdrive meter increases until it can be activated at the press of a button, increasing the score multiplier and bringing back bandmates. During solos, the track in question is automatically selected and the solo must be played in full, with phrases or switching not applying for its duration.

Additional playing modes are available from sub-menus: in both, phrases do not appear. In Band Survival Mode, the crowd meter will continually drop for tracks not currently played. In Warmup mode, only the currently played track is of interest and can lead to failure if not enough notes are hit. Additional options in the menu allow the unlocking of all songs, disabling solos and a never-fail mode.

The game features 41 licensed tracks (all master recordings) on-disc, most of which are re-used from the earlier games in the series. Nine tracks were all-new to the game and only became available as DLC for the console entries after a period of Unplugged exclusivity. A further 57 tracks for Unplugged were made available as DLC via PSN through an in-game store during 2009.

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Critic Reviews

Play.tm Jul 02, 2009 85 out of 100 85
4Players.de Jun 18, 2009 84 out of 100 84
GameSpot Jun 09, 2009 8 out of 10 80
Eurogamer.net (UK) Jun 11, 2009 8 out of 10 80

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Terok Nor (26109) added Rock Band Unplugged (PSP) on Sep 15, 2014