Initial reviews are good for Xbox Music

The online music world is getting a new entry soon with the launch of Xbox Music. The question is whether Microsoft will finally get things right after their doomed Zune experiment.

Still, Xbox Music is more than just about rebranding. Microsoft clearly intends it to be an all-encompassing effort. Users can download music a la carte like Apple (AAPL) iTunes, stream music a la Spotify, and listen to customized playlists in the same vein as Pandora (P). Early impressions cast the Xbox Music experience as “wonderful,” even.

The problem is that it’s only launching on Xbox and Windows * and won’t be on other platforms until next year. Still, Microsoft needed a new music service, and it looks like again they might have a good product based on copying its successful competitors.


The Beatles have arrived!

The Beatles new “Rock Band” video game launched today, and I can’t think of a better topic for our first post here at Linked and Loaded. We want to cover the new media revolution, and is there a better symbol than this new video game? Sure it’s not really a Web 2.0 powerhouse, but video games have become a constant feature in our lives and have influenced many of the new media developments in the past 30 years.

The game is getting great reviews as one might expect. Jason Zingale writes:

What ultimately makes the game so unique, however, is its presentation. Though The Beatles themselves look a little cartoony, it’s all done with the understanding that the game is more of a fantasy-based reality than a factual retelling of their history. That would certainly explain why there’s no mention of Stuart Sutcliffe or Pete Best, why some songs that were never performed live are on the set list for certain venues, or why Ringo is shown playing some songs at Abbey Road (like “Back in the U.S.S.R.”) that he never actually recorded. The psychedelic dreamscapes that the band is transported to during their Abbey Road sessions, meanwhile, are almost too stunning for their own good. I found myself often missing notes just because I was staring at the visually seductive environments meant to depict the band’s musical transformation during their later years, and for the diehard Beatles fan who thinks they know their music inside and out, you can even better appreciate the dreamscapes by turning off the scrolling notes.

The attention to detail doesn’t end there, either. Every song is prefaced by never-before-released audio clips of in-studio chatter, while Overdrive (the score multiplier you earn during each song) has been aptly changed to Beatlemania. Heck, there’s even an option to turn up the audience volume to “realistic” levels, making it virtually impossible to hear anything you play. That might not be enough for some people, who will likely be turned off by the all-too-brief Story Mode, but then again, they’re probably not real Beatles fans. Anyone that does like their music (and you’re in the minority if you don’t) will enjoy every second, because while the set list may feel a bit short at only 45 songs, nearly every one is better than a majority of the stuff in the “Rock Band” and “Guitar Hero” vaults. It’s the least you’d expect from a band as popular and prolific as The Beatles, but to see Harmonix so successfully translate the spirit of their music to video game form is almost beyond belief. Forget about ponies. You’re gonna dig this game.

Now, if we can only get The Beatles on iTunes!


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