PAX East 2015: Strumming Towards Maximum Frequencies

Through some bumps and bruises in recent years, Harmonix is still creating a bevy of engaging interactive experiences around music that vary in size and scope. Amplitude is one of their original releases from the PlayStation 2 era that is being ported to modern consoles with high definition graphics and a new lineup of audio tracks for a near future launch, a quick session at PAX East 2015 looks promising as a faithful update of the cult favourite.

Initially seeded by a Kickstarter project, the upcoming edition of Amplitude is still clearly marked as pre-alpha but looks like a gorgeous recreation of the original game from over a decade ago. The floor demo has a selection of Harmonix and Freezepop tracks, each of them boot into a rich neon path with up to 6 channels that each contain snippets of musical notes to hammer on (press the corresponding controller button when the timeline carries the corresponding note over your demarcation). The visual representation of each track cuts in and jumps out hard by removing the background element as opposed to Rock Band’s blank track background for quieter moments, combining with the ability of each player to toggle left and right between tracks as needed to maximize the team score. My play session had limited partners and low collective experience with the original game, but it’s easy to get the hang of tapping notes and switching tracks to the strum of locally created electronica.

There’s an excited core audience based on the significant line for the demo, my intuition suggests that an opportunity to potentially hook into the music library for the newly announced Rock Band 4 for PlayStation 4 gamers may also present itself between now and the release date. Amplitude lacks the size of recent Harmonix projects like Fantastia: Music Evolved, but it shows promises as a casual and addictive gaming experience to look forward to.

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