I feel bad for Power Gig: Rise of the SixString. It's hard enough to make it in the highly competitive world of video games, but this is a game that promises worthwhile changes to a genre dangerously close to becoming stale. Instead of giving you some fake plastic instrument, this is the game that dares to pack in a real electric guitar. It promises a bright future where you're doing more than hitting five colored buttons; you're rocking the audience one power chord at a time.
But Power Gig doesn't quite live up to its promises. In fact, Rise of the SixString stumbles in such spectacular fashion that I doubt I'll ever get it out of my mind. This is a game that fails to teach even the basics of guitar, all while getting most of the key elements of the Rock Band formula wrong. This (along with the even worse Rock Revolution) proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that making a great music game is not something you can half-ass.
I can't deny that the real electric guitar is a cool gimmick that makes a great first impression. I'm not going to say that my Rock Band 2 guitar is a kid's toy, but I don't expect it will impress the ladies. While this Power Gig axe is a lot smaller than my full-sized electric guitar, at least it's a step in the right direction. It has six fully tunable strings, volume nobs and a pickup for your amp. It's also a nice weight, giving off the feeling that you're holding something substantial while you're sitting in front of your TV.
As an electronic guitar it works fine, I was able to tune it with relative ease and annoy my neighbors with crunchy guitar riffs. The size was a little disorienting, especially for somebody who is used to playing regular sized instruments. However, once I got used to the smaller size, I was able to make the guitar sound all right. It's a cheap guitar for sure, but it's a great way to transition a kid into playing real music.
While the hefty control works well as an electric guitar, it's an absolute train wreck for actually playing the game. I've played my fair share of both fake and real guitars, and yet I was dumbfounded by this Power Gig control. There's something about adding six strings that adds a new layer of confusion to the mix. The game does make it easy on the player, allowing them to hold any (or all) of the strings. Just as long as you are holding the right colored fret you will successfully hit the note.
At least, this is how it works in theory. Because of the way the frets are positioned, I found that the game only recognizes some of my fingerings. It's not so bad when I only have to hold one fret, but holding multiple frets is a nightmare. The game has two-fret notes, and that's probably for the best given how difficult it is to get two working right. After spending several hours trying to make the expensive guitar work properly, I eventually gave up and pulled out my trusty Guitar Hero 5 control. Thankfully Power Gig is fully compatible with most of the guitar controls on the market.
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