Announced Tuesday at the start of the Game Developers Conference, Power Gig: Rise of the SixString is a novel approach to the well-trod music game genre.
Instead of using plastic simulations of guitars that are essentially just dressed-up plastic game controllers, the game uses fully functional six-string guitars that control the game, but can also be played in real life.
As one might imagine, the game is being developed by a company connected with the guitar business. Developer/publisher Seven45 Studios is a sister company of First Act, a leading musical-instrument maker responsible for making the entry-level guitars, basses, and other instruments found at Wal-Mart, Target, and other big retailers.
We got a sneak peek at an early version of the game and its hardware, and came away impressed with the general concept, although we're wary that the game-buying public has a severe case of music game fatigue after years of Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and their clones.
The prototype guitars we got a chance to strum were short-scale versions, like the guitars made specifically for children. While these smaller guitars had a low-end plywood/plastic feel (as most entry-level instruments do), the company tells us regular-scale and more high-end versions will also be available. The guitars have quarter-inch instrument jacks, which can be used to hook them up to any guitar amp.
When connected to an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 console, you press a button and a dampening block pops out of the body and holds the strings in place, so you can use the guitar's fingerboard to control the game.
The game itself looked similar to other music games we've seen, with a band on stage, plus notes flowing across the screen (although the notes string together as they pop onto the screen, rather than the traditional piano roll look). At least from the short gameplay demo we saw, the it seemed like the game used the single-note runs found in other music games, or two-note root-fifth power chords, but didn't take advantage of the guitar hardware to let you play full chords.
We heard a few familiar rock tunes, but we're not sure what type or number of licensed songs will end up in the final game.
Aware that standing out from the music game crowd is a challenge, the game adds a strong narrative element that seemed to draw in influences from "1984" to Brutal Legend. We're not sure music game players really want a deep futuristic dystopian storyline--most players just jump into a music game's freeplay or party mode.
Power Gig: Rise of the SixString is scheduled to arrive this fall for PS3 and Xbox 360, and will include a microphone and drums, in addition to the real-life guitars.