- The Washington Times - Monday, August 31, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO | The Beatles rock-and-roll invasion that conquered the music scene in the 1960s has been reborn in a hotly anticipated assault on the world of videogames.

The Fab Four have been re-created in virtual forms in “The Beatles: Rock Band,” a game that lets players join the British rockers as they springboard from gigs in England to global stardom.

True to its music roots, “The Beatles: Rock Band” (TB:RB) is on tour prior to the game’s release Sept. 9.

People packed Rockit Room bar in San Francisco last week to strap on plastic replicas of guitars played by John Lennon, George Harrison and Paul McCartney or keep the beat on a version of Ringo Starr’s drum set.

Mock instruments were wired to an Xbox 360 videogame console. Animated Beatles band members performed on a giant screen above a pool table.

Colored buttons streamed along on-screen guitar necks, with players hitting matching parts on mock instruments to stay in tune with the band.

MTV Games had TB:RB developed by U.S. studio Harmonix, the maker of a blockbuster “Rock Band” videogame franchise.

The game’s creators promise players “an unprecedented, experimental progression through and celebration of the music and artistry of the Beatles.”

Apple Corps has historically shunned releasing Beatles’ music in digital formats because of concerns about piracy.

Story mode in the game lets players become band members and start the group’s career in its early days playing the Cavern Club in Liverpool.

Players go on to perform virtual versions of the Beatles television appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in the United States in 1964 and a sold-out show in Shea Stadium in New York City a year later.

The videogame story includes a major Tokyo concert, studio sessions and a final 1969 performance on the roof of the headquarters of Apple Corps, the band’s recording label.

The concept for the videogame was honed with input from Mr. McCartney and Mr. Starr, as well as from Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison, the widows of Mr. Lennon and Mr. Harrison.

Forty-five songs are included with the videogame, and more of the bands’ tunes will be sold as digital downloads from the Internet.

The videogame will be available for play on Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Nintendo’s Wii.

Digitally remastered versions of the Beatles’ entire record catalogue will be released the day the videogame launches.

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