Mad Catz – Rock Band 3 Pro Guitar and Midi Controllers
April 2012 - The Rock Band game packs are still being supported by Harmonics, however the hardware - guitars, drums, keyboards, etc are now being designed and made by MadCatz. We recently had a chance to test the “pro” series guitar that supports the full guitar mode - not just the 6 button interface.
In this mode, you get access to all the frets and all the strings, with a button based sensor in all the positions. (Figure 1) This allows both casual game players, and real guitar players to enjoy the game. The Pro mode of the game is based on playing the real cords as you would from the original music. As such, you need to use the whole neck and all the strings to produce the match on the game.
For those experienced guitar players, they found the full neck buttons a bit different from the touch and feel of real strings as well as the thinner size of the neck, but they were able to get used to the design within minutes. Once they were used to the buttons, they found the response of the sensors very good, and the play along with the game a good challenge action.
For those wanting to learn the guitar, the Pro controller can be used to learn finger position for the songs that can be applied to a real guitar. There are a number of learning games coming out that support this training mode with replay and slow speed modes so you can learn to match the songs. The controller is well made, and the wireless connection had no issues being recognized by the Xbox system and worked over the full 15ft area around the console. The batteries for the system did not require changing during the full 8 hrs of the game testing that were done.
One of the changes with Rock Band 3 was the addition of a keyboard as control item in the game, along with the bass, guitar, and drums. To supplement the pro line, Mad Catz has brought out a Midi interface that allows real keyboards and real electronic drums to be used with the game. Similarly to the Pro Guitar, the Midi Pro interface allows for the real music to be played. On keyboards that includes selection of the correct octave of the keyboard, as well use of sustains and other pedal effects being sent.
We tested the Midi Pro using several different keyboards and a Yamaha electric drum kit. The devices connected and were recognized without any issues by the game console. We tested the system with a 24 key keyboard and also a 68 key keyboard, and both worked properly. The electronic drums needed some adjustment on the modeling options to allow the cymbals to come up properly. Placement of the high hat vs crash vs ride cymbals in the kit to match the setup of the game in the electronic setup required a couple of iterations to find the one that matched. Once selected, the system worked well.
For those seeking to continue the experience of Rock Band to new music and new levels beyond expert, these accessories are must haves. They allow for a very clean transition towards real instruments and allow musicians to play the game where they may have not been thrilled with the minimum button action of the game in the original gamers version.