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Harmonix unveils new game: Rock Band Blitz

Harmonix invented the popular games Guitar Hero and Rock Band, which let users pretend to be rock stars by operating simulated guitars and drum kits.
Harmonix invented the popular games Guitar Hero and Rock Band, which let users pretend to be rock stars by operating simulated guitars and drum kits. Harmonix Music Systems

Cambridge-based Harmonix Music Systems on Tuesday unveiled a new video game in its Rock Band series that eliminates the need for simulated musical instruments. The game, Rock Band Blitz, is designed for Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox 360 and Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 3 consoles, and will go on sale this summer. A price for the game was not disclosed.

Harmonix invented the popular games Guitar Hero and Rock Band, which let users pretend to be rock stars by operating simulated guitars and drum kits. Between them, Guitar Hero and Rock Band games generated sales of more than $3 billion; but the popularity of the games collapsed during the recession, and sales have never recovered.

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Game industry analysts said that one reason for falling sales was the cost of the simulated instruments, which could raise the price of a complete game system to well over $200. Rock Band Blitz avoids this by letting players use the standard game controller included with every Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 system.

“Instead of having the focus on musical authenticity, and performance simulation, it’s an arcade game,’’ said Harmonix project director Matthew Nordhaus during an interview posted on the video gaming website G4. “So it’s fast and loud and silly and a little over the top.’’ The game will include 25 songs and will be compatible with about 3,700 songs that have been released for previous Rock Band games.