I would like to offer my comparison between the games Rock Band and Guitar Hero, but first I will mention something about my broken Rock Band drum set.

I bought Rock Band for myself before Christmas, having had a great time with Guitar Hero 2, and wanting to try out the crazy drum setup. I’ve been playing for a while, and my snare drum (the red one on the far left) has gradually stopped working well. It’s at the point now that I have to bang on the drum really hard just to get it to register.

I’ve seen videos on the web about other people having trouble with their drum sets. Apparently, there were some issues with the early models (which I’m sure is what I have considering I pre-paid for mine) that are fixed in later revisions. EA is being awesome about replacing the broken drum kits. I’ve visited their site and ordered my free drum kit replacement. Hopefully I’ll be swapping out the drums early next week.

That said, let me get into my comparison between the games, and what I think they should do with the next version of Rock Band and/or Guitar Hero.

I should say from the start that I really like both games. I think the concept is simple, but effective, and the music selection has been, for the most part, both top-notch and groovalicious. But there are places where the games don’t overlap that I think could be improved.

For example, one of my favorite additions in Rock Band is that you can continue to accrue star power while you have star power activated. I’ve always thought it would be a great trick if you could make your way from the beginning of a song to the end with star power running through the whole thing, just by hitting the special notes as you go. There aren’t any songs that allow this, but there are many songs that allow you to go for long periods by spanning between star power notes.

What I like best about Guitar Hero is that it has character. Guitar Hero 3 has really neat transitions between “levels” that are animated and tell the story of your band as you get more popular. I realize that Rock Band emulates this a bit in band mode when you travel from city to city, but having some flavor other than the game in Rock Band would have been nice. Playing with my brother in a band and chatting like we’re actually in a band between sets has made up for this somewhat, but this leads me to my next point.

I realize that it seems odd to say this, but I would really like to play band mode solo, without having to play guitar and sing. Sure, it’s supposed to be for multiple players, but up until Pat came to play with me, I had nobody to play with in band mode. And band mode is wildly different from solo play. It would be nice to get through those parts of the game without having to have another willing person nearby. (Yes, I’ve been forcing all of my holiday visitors to play with me.)

One thing that drives me crazy about Rock Band is that the 360 won’t let me easily move my Live profile between instruments. So if I tired of playing drums, I can’t easily switch my profile to a guitar. I have to log out of Live, then log back in under the new instrument. This doesn’t seem like much of a problem, but it definitely puts a stall in gameplay, and I’m sure all of my Live friends are tired of being alerted every time I switch instruments. (Live pops up an alert to tell you whenever a friend comes online.)

Another issue with Rock Band and profiles is that when you’ve created a band, your leader must be present to play. That means that it’s really your leader who is progressing through the game. If you had all of your members but that guy, then you would have to start over. Plus, if you only have a couple of players to start out and you want to switch bandmates, the leader can only ever play the instrument they first select. This is a real problem with Rock Band.

My only real complaint about Guitar Hero is in the song selection, and I can’t complain about that too much because that’s what Guitar Hero is all about. The songs are more heavy and metal-oriented. That’s fine, but I like the selection that Rock Band offers that isn’t so heavy all the time. Although less Weezer would be nice.

The Rock Band music scrolling bar thing has better graphics than Guitar Hero does, too. They’re more consistent. It’s a bit harder to tell what all the symbols are for in Guitar Hero. Does the lighted circle mean star power or hammer on? And all the little extra symbols in battle mode are silly. Battle mode is silly.

Another thing that could be improved is the hardware. Beyond the “not working” issues, it would be great to have a completely wireless setup. There are just too many darn wires everywhere.

If you’re going to have wires, then provide a better USB hub. It’s great that they provided one at all, but it would have been better if it integrated better with the 360. Mine hangs out of the front of my entertainment center now because of how I’ve had to supply power to it. You would what would be neat? A drum kit that has a built-in USB hub. Plug your guitars into the drum kit. That would be nice.

I hope that the franchise does well, because I would really like to see another Rock Band release that perhaps addresses some of the issues here, and incorporates more of the character of Guitar Hero.