It's back to the garage for MTV's 'Rock Band'

While many users have posted complaints of hardware unresponsiveness, the surprising shoddiness of the gear may ironically resonate with real-life musicians.

Amid a swarm of complaints regarding its unresponsive Strat controller, Harmonix has issued a software patch for MTV's Rock Band, addressing the guitar's downstrumming problems.

Unfortunately, this patch has not been reported to be a definitive solution, as many of the problems appear to originate in the hardware itself. In a poll on the official Rock Band forum, 70% of the 115 polled said the "Up/Down strum will not work," and 38% indicated "double struming when pressed once." Other common complaints regard the drum set's sensitivity, the too-fragile drum pedal, and even complete hardware failure.

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The $170 price tag may seem steep in the context of the video game realm, but this price is very low when considering the nature of the aforementioned peripherals. Take the drumkit for example, which retails individually for $80, and works on a system Identical to MIDI drum kits. A Piezo mic converts the audio signal (i.e., stick hitting pad) into contact data to the user's 360 or PS3. It is a very simple system that can be cheaply put together, but for costlier "real musical applications," a single pad can cost as much as $200.

Users should not expect this level of quality with such a cheap piece of hardware. What you are getting with the game, is quite literally "a beater."

But struggling with malfunctioning gear and relying on duct tape to make it through rehearsals and shows is practically a rite of passage in the music scene. The unreliable instrument aspect actually lends some inadvertent realism to the game.

What's even more eerily appropriate about the game is its song repertoire. The 58 included tunes are the same ones you would hear played by a second-rate cover band in any divebar in America: for instance, Metallica's "Enter Sandman," Kiss' "Detroit Rock City," and The Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop."

But like cover bands, whose quiver of songs grows with age, more content will be made available for download in the near future. And like an actual rock band, its popularity will encourage third parties to make controllers with the durability of performance-quality instruments.

Meanwhile, Rock Band's primary competition, Activision's Guitar Hero, has also been the recipient of complaint: this time, of the legal variety. The '80s group The Romantics is suing Activision for using the band's hit song "What I Like About You" in Guitar Hero Rocks the '80s.

While the game company went through all the proper channels to obtain use of the song, the band's attorneys claim the cover sounds too much like the original, and infringes upon the band's rights to its likeness. This lawsuit could potentially remove Guitar Hero Rocks the '80s from stores and send it back to the garage.

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