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The Beatles, the video game

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by Sean Michaels

The Fab Four are to get pixellated, as Apple Corps signs the band up to star in a new game from the creators of Rock Band

The Beatles are coming to the world of video games. Unfortunately, players won't have the chance to travel back in time to save John Lennon, but the creators of Rock Band are planning an "experiential journey" through the Fab Four's career and music, to be released in late 2009.

"This game will take you on a journey from the Beatles' first album Please Please Me until the last album at Abbey Road," Jeff Jones, CEO of the Beatles' Apple Corps label, announced in a conference call yesterday. "It will span samples of the whole catalogue all the way through."

The project is a collaboration between Apple Corps, MTV Networks and Harmonix, the game developer whose hit Rock Band franchise has become a powerful vehicle for music promotion. The surviving members of the Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, will be involved in the game's creative planning, as will Beatles widows Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison.

Though there had been rumours of a Beatles add-on to Rock Band proper, the game will be a stand-alone title. It is not yet clear whether Rock Band's current peripherals – that is, guitar, bass, microphone and drum controllers, - will be used in the Beatles game, or if new hardware will be developed.

Nor is it clear whether players will have the chance to play "as" John, Paul, George or Ringo. Reps made vague comments about the game exploring the "imagery" of the Beatles alongside the music, which evokes visions of yellow submarines zapping at Blue Meanies. McCartney's statement was equally ambiguous. "The project is a fun idea which broadens the appeal of the Beatles and their music," he wrote. "I like people having the opportunity to get to know the music from the inside out."

The game's music at least will be bona fide. The soundtrack will be drawn from the master recordings of the Beatles' UK releases, with any additional music production overseen by George Martin's son, Giles, who co-produced the Beatles/Cirque du Soleil show, LOVE.

The game announcement is a major blow for Activision, who publish Rock Band's main competitor, Guitar Hero. Both companies had been courting the Beatles for years, hoping to add songs like While My Guitar Gently Weeps to their titles. While Apple Corps cited MTV's involvement and Rock Band's full-band game-play as major factors in their decision, finances will also have contributed. Jones hinted at an unusual licensing deal being inked for the game, with each party owning a "piece" of the project. "Nothing is typical about the Beatles," he said.

Last Updated: 10/31/08 07:16 See Related MACCA-News Articles:

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News Summary

It is not yet clear whether Rock Band's current peripherals – that is, guitar, bass, microphone and drum controllers, - will be used in the Beatles game, or if new hardware will be developed.