There’s a new challenger about to enter the ring of music games, but Power Gig: Rise of the Six String, otherwise known as, “That music game that uses a real f***king guitar!”  has some serious competition.  Some people have called Seven45 studios crazy for trying to compete with the likes of Guitar Hero and Rock Band, but they think that innovation will be the key to their success.

RipTen sat down with Seven45 brand manager Tom O’Connell to talk about what makes their game different, and why they think it will succeed.

DO:  First of all, where did Seven45 come from?

TO:  Seven45 is owned by Bernard Chiu, he’s our CEO and also of the founder of First Act.  They make instruments that are affordable and available for mass retail.  His goal is to make music accessible to the largest possible audience.  He saw what was going with music games and thought, “How can we take this to a more real and authentic level?”  We want to make playing real music more accessible to people who have been introduced to it through games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band.

DO:  So what made him think a game like this could compete with games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero?

TO:  Well, we can compete because we’re offering something new. In any industry, when someone innovates or offers somehting new, there is always ample space.  Look at Coke and Pepsi for example.  So, we thought we could take a new spin on the music game genre.  Especially when in the last few years, the genre has kind of waned a bit.  We thought the users had kind of grown tired of what they already had in music games.  We’re bringing something more authentic with six string.

DO:  Have players found this game is much harder than typical music games, because it’s more realistic?

TO:  We’ve found that there is a bit of a learning curve.  But what we have also found is that they actually transition to it really quickly.  That little bit of extra challenge is actually viewed as a positive.  They realize that extra effort is going into real musical skill, whereas in existing games, you’re only playing a game.

DO:  All licensed tracks, or are there covers?

TO: Our setlist is 70 songs, all of them are the licensed master recordings.  90% of our list has never appeared in a music game before.  We also have three exclusive artists that have never appeared in any game before:  Kid Rock, Dave Matthews and Eric Clapton.  They each have three songs in the game.

DO:  With the drums, why did you go with these air/light drums?  It’s very different than in any other music game.

TO:  Just looking at what’s been going on, we said, “What are the big issues with existing drum controllers?  A: they are very large and cumbersome and B.  they make noise when you hit them!!”  So, we thought, “How can we fix those things?”  With the airstrike drums, you still get that drumming sensation, but without that offbeat thud.  So you can really work on your rhythm.

DO:  What about bass?  Any plans to put out a real bass? like with the guitar?

TO:  Only guitar, drums and vocals at this point.  We really wanted to focus on the guitar gameplay and make sure our bundles were still affordable.

DO:  Speaking of which, how do you manage to price a full retail game and an actual working electric guitar at $179?

TO:  Well, thanks to First Act, we have a lot of experience at low cost  manufacturing and production in China.  Due to that experience we can make a high tech, high quality product for a reasonable price.

DO:  So, why do YOU think this game will be successful?

TO:  I think it brings something new to a genre that hasn’t had any innovation in recent years.  People always want to learn how to play instruments, but it’s hard.  What we’re doing is making a lot of that introductory stuff, fun.

DO:  Is there a mode in the game that will actually teach you to play the guitar?

TO:  Well, we’re looking to expand our tutorial mode to include lessons and things like that.

DO:  Yeah, if the game could really teach you how to play guitar, that’d be great

TO:  Absolutely, but first and foremost, it’s a game.

DO:  Well, the only next step after this is to go play real music.  I mean you could go to Guitar Center and get a cheap guitar for $200, but you’re not going to get  a game with it.

TO:  Exactly, and this is great for parents, because they’re actually buying their kids a musical instrument, not just another video game.

DO:  That was the biggest surprise for me, when I found out this is a real fucking guitar.  (As I hold it in my hands)

TO:  You wanna play it?

DO:  Hell yeah.

And play I did.  The first thing I was forced to remember is how much I suck at guitar.  I’m a drummer, I’ve been playing drums for over 15 years, and I’ve never been any good at guitar.  The problem is, this game uses an actual guitar, so even though I own face at games like Guitar Hero, I sucked pretty hard at Power Gig.  But Tom was right, after a little while, I started to get used to it.  Strumming away on easy mode, moving my hands up and down the neck, it almost felt like I didn’t suck quite so much at guitar anymore.  It actually felt pretty good.

The drums, on the other hand, felt entirely natural to me.  I’ve been air drumming since I was a kid.  The only problem here was that sometimes it was hard to see where you were aiming your sticks to make sure they were over the right color.  Also, you have to hold your hands in a certain position on the sticks in order to keep your fingers on sensors, and it’s not a natural position for every drummer …  myself included.  Yet, once I got the hang of it, the drumming in Power Gig was pretty fun as well, definitely more so than in other music games, and I dug the fact that it didn’t make any noise or take up any space.  I still have my ex-girlfriends Rock Band drum kit in my garage!!

So, Seven45 is definitely bringing something new to the genre with Power Gig: Rise of the Six String.  I, for one, hope that they succeed, because this is as close to playing real music as music games have gotten, and I’m all for that.  However, the learning curve may turn off new players and ultimately hurt sales.  You should know however, that the game is compatible with all Guitar Hero and Rock Band instruments, in case you still want to play Dave Matthews, Kid Rock and Eric Clapton, but don’t want to struggle with a real f***ing guitar!!

Power Gig: Rise of the Six String hits stores today!! October 19th!!

I’ll be giving a Power Gig guitar to my guitar player at our band’s next rehearsal for a music game review the likes of which you’ve never seen.  Be sure to check back in with RipTen to check it out!!