Rock Band Unplugged review

Unplugged? Well, apart from hooking up your charger anyway

GamesRadar+ Verdict


  • +

    Captures the Rock Band vibe

  • +

    Uses the PSP ingeniously

  • +

    Wide range of music


  • -

    No instrument peripherals

  • -

    Managing instruments gets complicated

  • -

    Controls aren't intuitive

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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

GenreOther Games/Compilations
DescriptionRock Band comes to handheld, and while single player only, it recreates much of what makes the series great.
Franchise nameRock Band
UK franchise nameRock Band
US censor rating"Teen"
UK censor rating"12+"
Release date1 January 1970 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)