Do you remember when you'd invite friends over, and you'd drag your plastic Rock Band instruments out from whichever corner or closet you'd stashed them in, and maybe people weren't too excited at first, but then someone would sing The Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" horribly and all was right with the world again?
Yeah, that shit's over. The band has broken up.
Developer Harmonix's latest addition to the Rock Band music game legacy, Rock Band Blitz (available on Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network), is about as far from the spirit of the series as it can get. Whereas the first three games were all about you and your friends joining forces to create beautiful — or, at least, passable — music together, Blitz splits you all up and puts you in direct competition with each other at all times.
The new title contains leaderboards for each song which serve as constant reminders of how you stack up against your friends. You can challenge them to Score Wars, in which each person has two days to get the most points on a particular track. Even while you're playing, a meter on the right side of the screen gives you real-time feedback on how you're performing in relation to the friend immediately above you in the rankings.
It's like you've all started solo careers, and now you're in a nonstop race not to be Ringo. It's a jarring shift in tone for the series, and kind of sad. While the game is still mostly fun (if I never hear Maroon 5's "Moves Like Jagger" again, I will count my life as a success), it's a hollow, regretful sort of fun, like when you see an old friend and he asks you about that money you owe him, so you tell him you're just calling it even for that time that he was dating your sister, so he punches you in the face, but it's still kind of nice to see him again.
Still, it's not like the other games have ceased to exist. You can still get the band back together, provided you're still on speaking terms after all those Score Wars.