Rock Band Unplugged review

  • Captures the Rock Band vibe
  • Uses the PSP ingeniously
  • Wide range of music
  • No instrument peripherals
  • Managing instruments gets complicated
  • Controls aren't intuitive

Rock Band Unplugged shouldn’t work. Not just because the name conjures up images of a bearded hippy gently crooning about flowers and peace while strumming on an acoustic guitar, but because Rock Band isn’t portable. Unless you have massive arms and you’re really strong. And people on the bus don’t mind you accidentally clumping them on the head with a plastic guitar as you try to activate Star Power.

So what does Rock Band Unplugged do, given it’s physically impossible to actually imitate Rock Band? It doesn’t even try. Instead, it copies the games that helped kicked the rhythm action craze off – Amplitude and Frequency. The idea is that you have four buttons (Left, Up, Triangle and Circle) to hit the scrolling notes, with the ability to ‘shift’ between drums, bass, guitar and vocals. Play enough notes in each section and they’ll continue playing themselves for a few bars while you run off to look after the other instruments. It feels like you’re spinning plates as you juggle between hitting notes and ensuring all the instruments are going, but it manages to capture the addictive element that makes Rock Band so enticing.

A lot of that is thanks to the recognizable Rock Band touches – the overdrives, the guitar solos, the world tour, the band creation. There’s even a downloadable store allowing you to grab DLC tunes, via your PSN account. Plus the tunes span everything from Jackson 5’s ABC to Pearl Jam’s Alive. Still, it can be fiddly getting used to the new controls that never feel as intuitive as its bigger brother. Yet that’s a minor grumble. Really, you don’t need a plastic guitar to rock hard.

Jun 10, 2009

More Info

Release date: Jun 09 2009 - PSP (US)
Jun 19 2009 - PSP (UK)
Available Platforms: PSP
Genre: Other Games/Compilations
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Harmonix, Backbone Entertainment
Franchise: Rock Band
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Lyrics, Suggestive Themes
PEGI Rating:


  • sleepy92ismypsn - December 9, 2010 6:30 a.m.

    Great game. Thanks for recommending it Chris and Brett.
  • kamikaz3e124 - June 29, 2009 9:59 p.m.

    Hmm... they could have used the microphone that's planted on a psp 3000 for singing, but notes work too... reCAPTCHA: 35-year-old fluids
  • GamesRadarBrettElston - June 11, 2009 2:41 a.m.

    I will forever and always recommend Harmonix's early games that paved the way for Guitar Hero and Rock Band - Frequency and Amplitude. The latter is from 2002 and plays exactly like RBU. Excellent stuff. Wow... reCAPTCHA - retching Ocean
  • Cyberninja - June 25, 2009 6:09 p.m.

    ... if your not deaf
  • Gamer46 - June 14, 2009 9:50 a.m.

    The tutorial is very well done to help people getting used to shifting among the different instruments. I never played Amplitude or Frequency but I was able to jump into this and get the hang of it fairly quick. Very fun, I'm not a huge fan of GH or RB on the home consoles and DS but this had a lot of songs I like so I wanted to give it a shot and I'm glad I did. I can see why people speak so highly of Harmonix's earlier games and this is another solid addition to that company's resume. A must-have for all PSP owners.
  • manaconda - June 11, 2009 5:08 p.m.

    id probably buy it if it had songs i liked... played the demo though, kinda tricky to get a hang of the buttons. for me anyways... maybe im slow.
  • Ezekiel17 - June 11, 2009 4:30 a.m.

    I would buy this if my PSP didn't get stolen. :P Great review! :) reCAPTCHA: An infect (Wha?)

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