For those gamers who have any interest in participating in music (or pretending to), the new generation of full band experience rhythm games have to be some of the most satisfying game purchases available. Online downloads are wonderful for their convenience and ability to deliver cheap indie games that would never see the light of day at Gamestop, but those of us old enough to remember when games came in fancy boxes with tome-like manuals and handcrafted maps yearn for something more tangible. Now we can rejoice, for what computer game is more tangible than a Rock Band or Guitar Hero World Tour full-band bundle, which comes in a box big enough and heavy enough to throw your back out if you've gotten a little too sedentary and don't bend your knees lifting it.
As a Rock Band devotee, I've been following Guitar Hero World Tour for a while now, and I've been intrigued by their claims they wold raise the stakes with a full in-game music studio and more realistic and innovative controllers. What sealed the deal for me, however, was the announcement that the GHWT drums had MIDI in, which would allow me to use my Rolland V-drums to play the game. Roll-your-own XBox 360 MIDI adaptors for Rock Band cost about $100 plus several hours of hacking and soldering to make, so the $200+ after tax GHWT bundle is a bargain when you consider it delivers a (hopefully) a rock-solid commercial MIDI interface "for free".
Unfortunately, John "Music Game Oracle" Ireton didn't give me the heads up on the MIDI interface until about three weeks ago, at which point Gamestop preorders throughout the region were closed. I decided to take my chances tracking down a full-band Xbox 360 bundle on release day at one of the big box stores that are the last refuge of behind-the-curve gamers. This lead to some minor drama, as I discovered that the GHWT distributors had decided on a brilliant "make sure everyone gets some bundles by only shipping units for 3 of the 4 consoles to each big box retailer" strategy. So, Walmart had everything BUT the Xbox 360 when I showed up at midnight, after being told over the phone that "Xbox" bundles were available. Sears, a laggard in game ordering, only had the game disk for release day. Fortunately, Target had received the bundle for every console but the Wii, and when I called at 9am on Sunday, there were 3 Xbox 360 full-band bundles left. Five minutes later I was on the road, and I arrived in time to win my prize.