New Rock Band 3 sports keyboard, The White Stripes

How do you elevate all these band simulation games (Guitar Hero, DJ Hero, Rock Band, Mario Paint) to the next level? Rock Band developer Harmonix has done the unthinkable with its newest sequel to the popular series — adapted the game for actual instruments. That is, as reports, Rock Band 3 will have a keyboard controller. Anyone who has wondered how that would ever work is correct — you’d probably just have to use an actual keyboard.

Developed by Mad Catz, as are all the other Rock Band 3 instruments, the new keyboard will double as a fully functional MIDI keyboard. What’s more, you may not even need to buy it; Mad Catz is planning a Midi Pro Adapter Box which will allow us keyboardists to use that Yamaha lying in the garage as a Rock Band 3 controller.

The game will also support a keytar, which you can strap around your shoulder or set down on the keyboard stand. You can form up to a seven-piece band using a keyed instrument along with the standard guitar, drums, bass, and three vocalists.

How will the keyboard work exactly? After all, the Rock Band we know can support no more than five “notes” on the screen. Well, this format will still be used; you won’t need to know a thing about music theory to play your favorite songs with a keyboard. The instrument will be split up into five color-coded sections, and you simply have to mash the keyboard in the right section at the right time, and you’ll sound like Ray Manzarek in no time.

However, those of us who scoff at this idea will have a new option — Pro Mode. Further welcoming criticisms that Rock Band and Guitar Hero are silly wastes of time that could be better spent forming actual bands, Rock Band 3‘s Pro Mode will simulate real instrument playing beyond the five color-coded buttons we’re accustomed to.

The keyboard parts require pressing the actual notes, the drums will have new cymbal notations, and you’ll have to buy a new type of guitar controller — the Fender Mustang Pro Guitar. This thing simulates a six-string, 17-fret guitar, with more buttons than your TV remote control, and also doubles as a MIDI instrument. Furthermore, Mad Catz is working with another company to create an actual stringed guitar that can be used with the game.

Finally, as with any Rock Band game, you’re going to wonder about the playable music. According to Harmonix, you’ll be able to play the game with any of the previous Rock Band tracks, the library for which will be up to around 2,000 songs by the time this game comes out this fall on MTV Games. Happily, Harmonix has put together a good list of 83 songs specifically for Rock Band 3.  They include “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen (remember, you can use three microphones at once!) and “Break on Through” by The Doors, as well as songs by The White Stripes, Rilo Kiley, Phoenix, Metric, and Them Crooked Vultures. There’s also one by Dio, and inexplicably, Smash Mouth.

Enjoy some video of Rock Band 3 gameplay below courtesy of

Rock Band 3 Partial Tracklist:
01. Metric – “Combat Baby”
02. Rilo Kiley – “Portions of Foxes”
03. Them Crooked Vultures – “Dead End Friends”
04. The Vines – “Get Free”
05. The White Stripes – “The Hardest Button to Button”
06. Phoenix – “Lasso”
07. Ida Maria – “Oh My God”
08. Juanes – “Me Enamora”
09. Jane’s Addiction – “Been Caught Stealing”
10. Smash Mouth – “Walkin’ on the Sun”
11. Spacehog – “In the Meantime”
12. Stone Temple Pilots – “Plush”
13. Dio – “Rainbow in the Dark”
14. Huey Lewis and the News – “The Power of Love”
15. Joan Jett – “I Love Rock and Roll”
16. Night Ranger – “Sister Christian”
17. Whitesnake – “Here I Go Again”
18. The Cure – “Just Like Heaven”
19. Ozzy Osbourne – “Crazy Train”
20. Queen – “Bohemian Rhapsody”
21. Jimi Hendrix – “Crosstown Traffic”
22. The Doors – “Break On Through”


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