My aspirations as a failed musician have been well documented, but long before the Rocksmith bug got me, I fumbled around with virtual soundboards, Casio keyboard presets and totally legit copies of Fruity Loops that I absolutely didn’t acquire from a friend. I always felt like I had songs in me, even if I didn’t possess the ability to actually play them. While PC software has existed forever, console gaming only marginally cared about music as a genre until pretty recently. I recall spending weeks with MTV Music Generator for the Playstation, using the rather limited palette of samples to create several memory cards’ worth of masterful compositions. Knowing the kind of music I was into at the time, it was likely an offering of rap metal so bad that it would have to double in quality to achieve the soaring heights of a Limb Bizkit song.
Outside of those that would make note-for-note transcriptions of songs in Mario Paint, music in games was mostly limited to arcade experiences with giant peripherals. Publishers figured that consumers would NEVER want to play music in their homes with plastic instruments, so music games just weren’t going to translate to consoles. Looking back, it’s kind of incredible that Frequency ever came out; without it, there may never have been a Guitar Hero or a Rock Band…. or a Rocksmith for that matter. It wasn’t a blow-away success or anything, but it was a proof of concept. That proof of concept also happens to be my favorite game that they’ve ever made.
Much the same way that Rock Band constructs songs from various instrument masters, Frequency expects you to be a one-man band, multitasking your way through each piece until the puzzle completes. Though later levels certainly provide more than enough challenge, Frequency mostly straddles the line between game and music creator; the way it forces you to assemble every little beat of percussion giving you an appreciation for songs that you may not otherwise even care for, the same way that learning the chords of Losing My Religion in Rocksmith gave me a new perspective on R.E.M.
The Remix mode basically lives off of this concept, giving you a blank canvas with which to reassemble those same pieces. Though it may sound limiting, it helped bridge the gap for people like me that struggled with a starting point. Creativity is often born from restriction and trying to make something listenable out of No Doubt’s “Ex-Girlfriend” is kind of a game in itself. To this day, I have a memory card somewhere that I only used for remixes of Curve’s “Worst Mistake”, often distorting it into a sort of sonic hell that would make the listener wonder if high quantities of opiates were consumed.
I still love that song. To this day, I’m disappointed it was never released.
Well, not officially. I’m willing to part with some one-of-a-kind remixes though. Friend prices, of course.