Is 'Power Gig' the next step for music video games?

As sales of 'Guitar Hero' and 'Rock Band' continue to slip, Seven45 studios introduces 'Power Gig: Rise of the Sixstring," which ships with a real electric guitar.

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    Sick of "Guitar Hero"? "Power Gig: Rise of the Sixstring" gives you a chance to wield a real electric guitar.
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Tired of jamming down on a multi-colored plastic fretboard? Seven45 feels your pain. This week, the Boston-based production studio unveiled a video game called "Power Gig: Rise of the Sixstring," which will ship with – wait for it – an actual electric guitar. Players can reportedly use the guitar as a controller in the game, or plug the thing in an amp, and create real, live guitar music.

The game will be available this fall for the PS3 and Xbox 360; no word yet on price.

"We saw the advent and success of these music-based video games," Seven45 rep Jeff Walker told USA Today. "We feel really confident that this is the next natural evolution." Walker has a point. Although the "Guitar Hero" and "Rock Band" franchises are pretty fun, the platforms leave little room for improvisation. Unless you reprogram the plastic axe as some geek rockers have, you're handed a script, and if you stick to it, the music pours out of the television speakers. It's a thrilling idea with diminishing returns.

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And the gaming community seems to agree. According to the NPD Group, which monitors the video game market, music games generated a hefty $1.4 billion in 2008. Sales have since dropped by 50 percent. From Seven45's perspective, "Power Gig: Rise of the Sixstring" is a chance to snag all those disaffected gamers, and feed them something fresh. Here's Mike Snider of USA Today:

Instead of the standard "Guitar Hero" and "Rock Band" "highways," the music is represented in a vertical DNA-strand string of streaming colored orbs. Placement of orbs and color prompts give players a heads-up to upcoming notes. A more challenging authentic mode lets players hit chords instead.

The question is whether the "authentic" interface will be too challenging, or too chaotic. Even if "Guitar Hero" is repetitive, it's also cathartic – a way to jam through hits by the Rolling Stones or Nirvana without possessing the axe skills of Keith Richards or the late, great Kurt Cobain. (Of course, you remember Cobain's history with Guitar Hero.) But hey, what do you think? Would you pick up "Power Gig"?

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