Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 06/30/02 | Genre: Strategy
Rock Manager is the kind of game that you see on the shelf at the store and chuckle. Who would buy something this lame? And I have to admit that with the seemingly endless supply of games out there, Rock Manager wouldn't even get a second glance from me. That really is a shame because the game is actually pretty good.
In the game, you took over the role of a music industry band manager. The musicians put their faith in you, willing to take music lessons and classes to help them with the media. In return all they expect is for you to turn them into stars. Sounds pretty simple, huh? Well it is not. The first couple of missions get you used to the process of controlling your band's career. You'll learn how to select musicians and keep them happy. You'll learn how to purchase a song from the publishing company then record it as a single. Then you'll try to get one of the record companies to sign your band. Until you are signed the game can be a little frustrating because you can't sell the album (and make the big bucks) unless one of the record companies likes the song.
Once you have a recording contract (and a fat signing bonus) you'll be able to design a cover for your album and then you can set a release date. You'll also need to drop of some complimentary copies of the single at the radio station, music magazine, and local newspaper. You can, if you choose, shoot a video for the song as well and distribute that to the TV station. Once all that is taken care of you'll have to find a way to create "hype" for your band and their single. This is where I found the game to be insanely hard. In order to create hype you have to get the song onto the radio station's playlist, which can be difficult if your band?Ķum?Ķsucks. And suck they may. One of the first really hard missions is taking a butt-ugly spoiled rich girl with a terrible voice and turning her into a star. I hated the mission and could not get beyond it for what felt like an eternity. If I were not been determined to review this thing, I'd have thrown the disk into the creek.
The game really does have some originality. For starters, getting to actually pick the song and mix it in the studio is pretty cool. At least until you get stuck on a mission and have to record the same song over and over and over and over. Still, I found the system a nice touch because playing with the vocals and playing styles of your musicians is actually a lot of fun. It is also a great feeling to sell out an arena and eventually take your act "on tour." If you are not easily discouraged, the game is very rewarding and turns out to be quite fun.
Sadly, the game has some unkind features as well. For starters, time flies by. One day of game time takes about three seconds. So you have to be on top of things literally every second that you're playing the game. If you don't keep things moving forward, the band will get bored and the members might even quit on you. I found now way to slow the game down and that was very discouraging. I also found it annoying that the game missions must be played in order. This is very discouraging when you get stuck on a mission and tire of it. It would be nice to try something else. Unfortunately, you can only re-play missions you've already beaten. Who wants to do that? These two features can make the game very tough to love. I feel like they are the main reason I couldn't give this game something in the "A" range.
The graphics are pretty ordinary, as is the case with management-style games. There is a decidedly European flavor as most of the characters have a proper English accent. Sound is fine for most of the game and quite good when you mix your songs. It is very easy to learn the game and control your band's career. All of these things help the game stay solid as you progress through the missions. They help keep the focus on what the game is really about: managing.
Rock Manager is a hard game to rate. If you like a challenger and have ever dreamt of entering the glamorous world of the music industry, this game will give you want you crave. Unfortunately, I fear most gamers will tire of it rather quickly. As for myself, I would have abandoned it if I were not expected to review the game. The good is very good. The bad is very annoying. So I say Rock manager is better than average, but not close to being a classic. Like horse racing or bass fishing games, Rock Manager is seeking a certain demographic of gamer. For having the guts to make a game like this Dreamcatcher has caught my eye. Keep it up, ladies and gentlemen.