Harmonix’s latest pet project made for and funded by fans, a reboot of the 2003 rhythm/action game Amplitude, is slowly becoming available to the public through convention and conference appearances. While talk of a new Rock Band game is being tossed around and considered through crowd-influenced surveys, along with a recent return of DLC content, and Dance Central continues to reign supreme in student lounges and living rooms, Harmonix’s passion for Amplitude has been heavily noted throughout their production. Wide audiences will get to see the result of this hearty-effort later this year, but for people attending PAX East, their opportunity is just right around the corner.

This weekend at PAX East, players can check out the new Amplitude at the Harmonix Booth, located at #4224. It’ll be playable on the PS4 in demo form, featuring a new song called “ICU”, and a track titled “Phantoms” by Freezepop, Harmonix in-house techno-pop group. As well, the demo will allow players to try out the new multiplayer mode, consisting of 4-player competitive team play. There will be a bit of a tournament surrounding the new multiplayer mode in Omegathon at PAX East, on Saturday, March 7th.

Last summer, the game was fully funded down to the final day of its Kickstarter run, earning just a little bit extra above its initial goal of $775,000, making a total of $844,127. Hope dwindled as it came down to the wire, but the last 36 hours or so, accompanied by a live-stream of Harmonix friends and family playing 2003’s original Amplitude, really helped make the grade. That said, they did not make their stretch goal of $1,000,000 for the sake of online multiplayer, which is a feature that made the first game so popular. The package offered from the original goal alone is still impressive and exciting for fans.

As well, it made it clear just how much people really did love Amplitude. Throughout Harmonix’s more popular recent releases, people looked back fondly on the franchise, with only mutters of its return. There were spiritual successors, such as Rock Band: Unplugged for the PSP, which utilized basically the same functionality of locking musical tracks after playing a couple bars then going to the next instrumental line, but with only 4 tracks. Then there was Rock Band: Blitz, which had the same vibrancy and excitement of Amplitude, but instead of locking tracks, it was a more of an arcade effort as opposed to creative; just get as many points as possible. There were interesting power-ups and concepts, along with the fact that your Rock Band library of music can be transferred in to be played (with only two rhythmic notes), but otherwise, it just didn’t have the same feeling of satisfaction that Amplitude and Frequency gave its players when successfully locking a track.

Though difficult, Amplitude’s rigid and frenetic nature clearly struck a chord with audiences with its intense and high paced gameplay. The new reboot’s visual aesthetic is refreshingly colorful and fitting to the style of which fans gravitated to in the first place. The player’s ship seems much more reactive in shooting than before, and the notes are smaller, while still maintaining the game’s ridiculous level of speed and rollercoaster-like movement. It looks and feels like a natural reboot progression.

One of the more interesting things to consider about this reboot is how the soundtrack will be selected. Considering it’s a small budget game for a team this big, the track list will most likely not have a lot of licensed tunes of popular tendencies, or in the vein of beloved remixes. Fans of the original will have to do without their Slipknot, Weezer, and Baldwin Brothers. You know. The Baldwin Brothers. Urban Tumbleweed? Nevermind.

DLC might allow some more eclectic and memorable tunes to come on board, considering how popular the game ends up being. That said, the musical nature of Harmonix’s family and friends should provide an ample amount of solid and varied music for the game. Their in-house bands being included in Guitar Hero and Rock Band have proved to be no slouches, with tracks from bands such as That Handsome Devil, Breaking Wheel, and the aforementioned Freezepop being involved and making for some really fun gameplay. I have enough trust in Harmonix to bring us some exciting, weird, and memorable new tracks. Until Rock Band 3 oversaturated the music library, Harmonix’s track-listings have always stood out with each release. Remember Jordan by Buckethead in Guitar Hero 2? Yeah. Me too.

We’ll be listening in on reports for how the reboot plays. For now, this gameplay trailer has gotten me at least excited enough to dust off the PS2. Remember The Rock Show by Blink 182? Yikes.

Amplitude is aiming to be released in the middle of this year.

About Rocky

Rocky Pajarito is a weird person and writer, as well as a lover of film and video games alike. Also, he plays the drums, just in case that’s important to anyone (call him).

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