This past Monday, Harmonix started their very own Kickstarter campaign for a revival of the classic PS2 title, Amplitude. To me, and many others, this is a big deal. For the sake of those unaware, here’s some backstory.
In 2001, Harmonix released FreQuency, the predecessor to Amplitude, and in doing so asked a simple question: “Where are all the music games?”. Before anybody had the opportunity to hazard a guess, they answered it by slamming FreQuency down on the table with gusto. Two years later it’s sequel fell from the heavens, a more refined version with a completely new track listing and hours of fun engraved lovingly onto the discs surface… in my totally
In both FreQuency and Amplitude players assumed control of their Beat Blaster Ship and flew up a track not unlike those found in their more renowned titles, Guitar Hero and Rockband – the inspiration of which was ever present. Multiple tracks comprised the various different aspects of the song playing over the gameplay, from the vocals to drums to guitar and so on. Players would have to switch between each track – successfully hitting the required sequence of notes laid out before them in plate spinning fashion – to keep that aspect of the song active. It was, and to many remains, very gratifying to those who possess that I-won’t-miss-that-one-next-time itch. As Product Manager, Eric Pope says in their campaign video: “The game’s soundtrack has an electronic bent which matched the futuristic visuals on screen.”, but that’s not to say that your personal musical preference was not catered to. Among original compositions by Harmonix’s staff, and tracks composed specifically for the game, the listing for both installments included No Doubt, Paul Oakenfield, Fear Factory, Pink, Papa Roach, Slipknot, Weezer and even David Bowie; to just name a few.
I don’t claim to be in a minority when I say this but I generally have no strong opinion one way or the other for Kickstarter campaigns, in and of themselves, but tend to base my judgement on a case-by-case basis. In this instance, it can be no other way. Third party funding brings about third party involvement, whereas crowdfunding allows the person/group/company to have full creative rein. Without dredging up history, all that Harmonix need is the support of their loving fans and their own talent – with no input from elsewhere. If validation of the fact that they can deliver is needed then I’m wasting my time here. If I asked any person for a list of five games that use music as a central part of the gameplay, in most cases at least three of those games would be developed by this studio. That’s far from a comment on oversaturation however, but a comment on how present they are amongst the genre for a reason. Housemarque kick ass in the dual stick shooter department and these guys boot equal amounts of rectum here. Amplitude is their way of bringing back the great times had by many at the beginning of this millenium.
To answer the question of why I care, this game couldn’t have caught me at a better time in my life. Between this and Tony Hawk Pro Skater, which was at its peak around the time, game music was tentatively stepping into licensed territory in a fantastic way. Time aligned rather well, I suppose, as I was in the throes of my more impressionable years and therefore music was like the God I had always been looking for. To suddenly hear stuff I would likely never hear elsewhere such as Del The Funkee Homosapian, Millencolin or Powerman 5000 was a comfortable experiment juxtaposed by the, familiar at the time, Public Enemy, Slipknot and Blink 182. Not to say I was or remain vehemently attached to any of these groups or artist today (my teenage years are over, thank God), but the experience of having a varied assortment of music ranging from heavy metal through hip hop and all the way to dance really aided in making me more open minded to different styles in a circle of friends that were generally… not. It showed me that having a varied outlook on music – and likewise, many other things – was not only not a bad thing, but there was a community outside of the one I resided within that embraced the same thing… and that is the group I would like to think I am a part of today. For this, I have to give credit to those who helped shape that and Harmonix are definitely amongst those deserving of that credit.
I’m most assuredly backing and I strongly recommend you do too – click this link now!