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Rock Band Unplugged

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Rock Band Unplugged
Cover art
Publisher(s)MTV Games
SeriesRock Band
Platform(s)PlayStation Portable

Rock Band Unplugged is a 2009 rhythm game developed by Harmonix in partnership with Backbone Entertainment, published by MTV Games, and distributed by Electronic Arts for the PlayStation Portable. It is the third installment in the Rock Band series and the first to be exclusively developed for a handheld console. The game was released in North America and Europe in June 2009.

The core game is functionally similar to the note-matching gameplay of Harmonix's previous titles, Frequency and Amplitude, with the player responsible for playing all four instruments—lead and bass guitar, drums, and vocals—using the Portable's controls. Game modes are similar to Rock Band's, and the soundtrack includes a number of songs that have already been a part of the Rock Band series. Additional tracks will be a time-limited exclusive to Unplugged before they are released as downloadable content for the console games. The game supports the addition of new songs that can be purchased through the PlayStation Store.

Rock Band Unplugged, in addition to being released separately, was also released as part of a "Limited Edition Entertainment Pack" that also includes a Rock Band Unplugged-branded PSP, a 4GB memory card, and a voucher to download the movie School of Rock.[2] A voucher for an exclusive 5-song demo of Rock Band Unplugged that is compatible with downloadable content was included with the PSP Go.[3]


The player must repeatedly switch between four different instruments to complete a song.

The main gameplay modes in Rock Band Unplugged are similar to that of the console versions of the game. In Tour mode, the player creates a customized band, plays sets of songs at venues around the world, earning cash and fame, and unlocking new vehicles, venues, and staff. Songs completed in Tour mode then become available in Quick Play mode, which allows any song to be played without the need to create a band.

Songs in Rock Band Unplugged feature tracks for the same four instruments as in Rock Band: lead guitar, bass guitar, drums, and vocals. During the Quick Play and Tour modes, gameplay is similar to Harmonix' previous games Frequency and Amplitude: The player presses combinations of buttons on the PSP to match notes in time with the rhythm of the currently-selected instrument. After completing a phrase without missing any notes, the instrument continues to play automatically for a set amount of time, allowing the player to switch to another instrument using the shoulder buttons.[4] Successfully completing multiple phrases in a row builds a score multiplier, as well as allowing the song to play in its entirety. Not completing a phrase in a track for an extended period of time will drain the Crowd Meter for that instrument, eventually causing the instrument to fail. A failed track will eventually cause the entire band to fail if not saved in time.

Overdrive is handled similarly to the main Rock Band series. By hitting certain white-colored sections of notes placed throughout a song, the player fills the Energy Meter. Once the meter is at least half full, the player may press down on the D-pad or X to activate Overdrive, which revives all failed instruments and enables a temporary state that boosts the score multiplier and slows the degradation of the Crowd Meter for all instruments. During solos, the player is automatically switched to the appropriate instrument; each note is scored individually, and the phrasing and track-switching elements do not apply until the solo is over.

Two additional modes, Band Survival Mode and Warmup Mode, are included in the "Extras" section of the game. In both modes, notes are scored individually, instead of being divided into phrases. Tracks will not play automatically, causing the Crowd Meter for unselected instruments to continually drop in Band Survival Mode. In Warmup Mode, only the currently-selected track is affected by missed notes. No multiplayer mode is included in the game.[5]

The Nintendo DS version of Rock Band 3 and Lego Rock Band feature identical gameplay to Unplugged.



Rock Band Unplugged features 41 tracks, all of them master recordings. The game uses the PSP's Wi-Fi capabilities to provide additional downloadable content from music providers through the PlayStation Store. Players can also download new tracks to the PSP through the PC version of the PlayStation Store.[2][6] Ten songs were made available for download on the day of the game's release,[7] and two new songs were released each week until November 19, 2009, when further DLC development was cancelled; Harmonix, while stating that Unplugged has "run through [its] planned state", has not ruled out future downloadable content but are presently focused on other Rock Band projects.[8] There is no cross-compatibility between music libraries for Rock Band Unplugged and the console versions of Rock Band, nor any interaction with the PlayStation 3 version of either Rock Band game.[7][9]

The songs included in the game are as follows:[4][10][11][12][13][14]

Song title Artist Decade Genre Song length
"3's & 7's" Queens of the Stone Age 2000s Alternative 03:34
"ABC" Jackson 5 1970s Pop/Rock 02:55
"Ace of Spades '08" Motörhead 1980s Metal 02:49
"Alive" Pearl Jam 1990s Grunge 05:40
"Aqualung" Jethro Tull 1970s Progressive 06:34
"Buddy Holly" Weezer 1990s Alternative 02:40
"Carry On Wayward Son" Kansas 1970s Progressive 05:26
"Chop Suey!" System of a Down 2000s Nu-Metal 03:30
"Come Out and Play (Keep Em Separated)" The Offspring 1990s Punk 03:17
"De-Luxe" Lush 1990s Alternative 03:29
"Drain You" Nirvana 1990s Grunge 03:43
"Everlong" Foo Fighters 1990s Alternative 04:50
"Float On" Modest Mouse 2000s Indie Rock 03:28
"Gasoline" Audioslave 2000s Rock 04:39
"Holiday in Cambodia" Dead Kennedys 1980s Punk 04:38
"I Was Wrong" Social Distortion 1990s Punk 03:58
"The Killing Jar" Siouxsie and the Banshees 1980s Pop/Rock 04:04
"Kryptonite" 3 Doors Down 1990s Rock 03:56
"Laid To Rest" Lamb of God 2000s Metal 03:50
"Less Talk More Rokk" Freezepop 2000s Pop/Rock 04:59
"Livin' on a Prayer" Bon Jovi 1980s Rock 04:12
"Message in a Bottle" The Police 1980s Rock 04:50
"The Middle" Jimmy Eat World 2000s Pop/Rock 02:46
"Miss Murder" AFI 2000s Alternative 03:26
"More than a Feeling" Boston 1970s Classic Rock 04:45
"Move Along" All-American Rejects 2000s Emo 04:00
"Mr. Brightside" The Killers 2000s Alternative 03:42
"My Own Worst Enemy" Lit 1990s Pop/Rock 02:49
"Our Truth" Lacuna Coil 2000s Metal 03:47
"Painkiller" Judas Priest 1990s Metal 06:06
"The Perfect Drug" Nine Inch Nails 1990s Rock 05:15
"Pinball Wizard" The Who 1960s Classic Rock 03:01
"Rock Your Socks" Tenacious D 2000s Rock 03:33
"Show Me the Way" Black Tide 2000s Metal 03:59
"Spoonman" Soundgarden 1990s Grunge 04:06
"Today" Smashing PumpkinsThe Smashing Pumpkins 1990s Alternative 03:19
"The Trees" (Vault Edition) Rush 1970s Progressive 04:54
"What's My Age Again?" Blink-182 1990s Punk 02:28
"Where'd You Go?" The Mighty Mighty Bosstones 1990s Alternative 03:27
"White Wedding, Part 1" Billy Idol 1980s Rock 03:30
"Would?" Alice in Chains 1990s Grunge 03:27

The songs included in the Rock Band Unplugged Starter Pack are as follows:

Song title Artist Decade Genre
"Everlong" Foo Fighters 1990s Alternative
"ABC" Jackson 5 1970s Pop/Rock
"Buddy Holly" Weezer 1990s Alternative
"Ace of Spades '08" Motörhead 1980s Metal
"What's My Age Again?" Blink-182 1990s Punk

Downloadable content

Song title Artist Decade Genre Release Date Song length
"Crushcrushcrush" Paramore 2000s Pop/Rock June 4, 2009[14] 03:05
"Feed the Tree" Belly 1990s Alternative June 4, 2009[14] 03:30
"Gimme Three Steps" Lynyrd Skynyrd 1970s Southern Rock June 4, 2009[14] 04:45
"Hysteria" Muse 2000s Alternative June 4, 2009[14] 03:46
"Inside the Fire" Disturbed 2000s Nu-Metal June 4, 2009[14] 03:37
"Just a Girl" No Doubt 1990s Pop/Rock June 4, 2009[14] 03:17
"The Kill" Thirty Seconds to Mars 2000s Pop/Rock June 4, 2009[14] 04:06
"Typical" Mutemath 2000s Alternative June 4, 2009[14] 04:12
"Under the Bridge" Red Hot Chili Peppers 1990s Alternative June 4, 2009[14] 04:26
"Wonderwall" Oasis 1990s Rock June 4, 2009[14] 04:21
"Constant Motion" Dream Theater 2000s Progressive June 11, 2009 06:57
"Sex Type Thing" Stone Temple Pilots 1990s Alternative June 11, 2009 03:38
"Afterlife" Avenged Sevenfold 2000s Metal June 25, 2009 05:36
"Dr. Feelgood" Mötley Crüe 1980s Metal June 25, 2009 04:53
"Sin Wagon" Dixie Chicks 1990s Country July 2, 2009 03:37
"Losing My Religion" R.E.M. 1990s Alternative July 2, 2009 04:27
"Still Alive" GLaDOS and Jonathan Coulton 2000s Pop/Rock July 9, 2009 02:57
"Here Comes Your Man" The Pixies 1980s Alternative July 9, 2009 03:17
"Pride and Joy" Stevie Ray Vaughan 1980s Blues July 9, 2009 03:40
"My Curse" Killswitch Engage 2000s Metal July 16, 2009 04:11
"My Iron Lung" Radiohead 1990s Alternative July 16, 2009 04:39
"Casey Jones" Grateful Dead 1970s Classic Rock July 23, 2009 04:24
"The Boys Are Back In Town (Live)" Thin Lizzy 1970s Classic Rock July 23, 2009 04:27
"Funk #49" James Gang 1970s Classic Rock July 30, 2009 04:10
"Smooth Criminal" Alien Ant Farm 2000s Rock July 30, 2009 03:27
"Had a Dad" Jane's Addiction 1980s Alternative August 6, 2009 03:49
"Renegade" Styx 1970s Classic Rock August 6, 2009 04:18
"The Number of the Beast (Original Version)" Iron Maiden 1980s Metal August 13, 2009 04:48
"The Trooper" Iron Maiden 1980s Metal August 13, 2009 04:14
"Heartbreaker" Pat Benatar 1970s Classic Rock August 20, 2009 03:31
"A Favor House Atlantic" Coheed and Cambria 2000s Progressive August 20, 2009 03:15
"She's Not There" ZombiesThe Zombies 1960s Pop-Rock August 27, 2009 02:23
"Black Sunshine" White Zombie 1990s Metal August 27, 2009 04:13
"Lucid Dreams" Franz Ferdinand 2000s Alternative September 3, 2009 03:32
"Riad N' the Bedouins" Guns N' Roses 2000s Rock September 3, 2009 03:36
"I Stand Alone" Godsmack 2000s Nu-Metal September 10, 2009 03:54
"Love Spreads" Stone RosesThe Stone Roses 1990s Alternative September 10, 2009 05:48
"Bring Me to Life" Evanescence 2000s Nu-Metal September 17, 2009 03:54
"Back from the Dead" Spinal Tap 2000s Rock September 17, 2009 03:59
"Wake Up Dead" Megadeth 1980s Metal September 24, 2009 03:40
"Flathead" FratellisThe Fratellis 2000s Alternative September 24, 2009 03:17
"Monkey Wrench" Foo Fighters 1990s Alternative October 1, 2009 03:56
"Lonely as You" Foo Fighters 2000s Alternative October 1, 2009 04:41
"Know Your Enemy" Green Day 2000s Rock October 8, 2009 03:12
"Red Barchetta" Rush 1980s Progressive October 8, 2009 06:23
"Jeremy" Pearl Jam 1990s Grunge October 15, 2009 05:13
"Headknocker" Foreigner 1970s Classic Rock October 15, 2009 03:23
"The Rock Show" Blink-182 2000s Punk October 22, 2009 02:52
"All I Want" OffspringThe Offspring 1990s Punk October 22, 2009 01:55
"Kool Thing" Sonic Youth 1990s Alternative October 29, 2009 04:07
"My Old School" Steely Dan 1970s Classic Rock October 29, 2009 05:45
"Waking the Demon" Bullet for My Valentine 2000s Rock November 5, 2009 04:08
"Toxicity" System of a Down 2000s Nu-Metal November 5, 2009 03:45
"Excuse Me Mr." No Doubt 1990s Pop Rock November 12, 2009 03:06
"I'm Shipping Up to Boston" Dropkick Murphys 2000s Punk November 12, 2009 02:35
"California Über Alles" Dead Kennedys 1980s Punk November 19, 2009[15] 03:31
"You're No Rock N' Roll Fun" Sleater-Kinney 2000s Indie Rock November 19, 2009[15] 02:31

Currently, "Toxicity", "Under the Bridge", "Back from the Dead", and "Smooth Criminal" are no longer available through the PlayStation Network store.

Band Unplugged Lite


On March 10, 2010, Rock Band Unplugged Lite was released on the PlayStation Network, which is a downloadable version of the game. The Lite version includes the 5 Starter Pack songs, but can accept all downloadable content (DLC). The in-game Music Store enables users to download any of the original Rock Band Unplugged songs for the same price as the existing downloadable songs. Original Rock Band Unplugged songs can only be purchased through the in-game Music Store, while additional DLC songs can be purchased from either the PlayStation Store or the in-game Music Store. The lite version was removed at one point from the PlayStation store.



Rock Band Unplugged was met with generally positive reviews. The game's gameplay was praised, likening it to the success of Harmonix' previous games Frequency and Amplitude,[20][21] and called a "unexpectedly nostalgic pleasure".[19] It was further considered a general improvement on the standard Rock Band gameplay format, "adding a new level of depth for veteran players",[21] and that by being in control of all parts of the band, the player would be more connected to their virtual band than in the console versions.[22] Reviewers praised the use of sound, particularly the slight volume emphasis given to the current instrument that is being played, though recommended the use of headphones to overcome the poor speaker quality of the PSP unit.[22][21] The choice of control scheme was also praised, which avoided introducing too many difficult button combinations on the PSP unit.[19] The game's difficulty was also noted to be well-balanced both between songs and individual difficulty levels.[19]

Reviewers noted that the "World Tour" mode of the game suffered the same problems that both Rock Band games had when they were first released, in that without additional content, the player would be likely playing the same song several times over as they progress through the tour.[22][20][18] The lack of multiplayer or online leaderboards for Rock Band Unplugged was considered its largest weakness.[18] IGN's Greg Miller lamented that unlike the social nature of Rock Band on consoles, the lack of such interaction cooperative or competitively with a second player leaves little reason to come back to the game or purchase additional content.[22] GameSpot's Carolyn Petit, in considering the success of the multiplayer aspects of the other Rock Band titles, considered the omission "baffling".[21] The cost of additional downloadable content, even in consideration of it being more of the same that already exists in the Rock Band series, remains the same, from $0.99 to $1.99 a song.[22] Reviewers also criticized the need to repurchase such downloadable content for the game, with no way to reuse existing PlayStation 3 Rock Band content with the PSP game.[18]


  1. ^ a b Walton, Mark (May 18, 2009). "EA nails down Rock Band Unplugged set list". GameSpot. Retrieved March 27, 2024.
  2. ^ a b "'Rock Band Unplugged' for the PSP(R) (PlayStation(R)Portable) System: The Award-Winning Music Video Game is Going On the Road On June 9, 2009". PR Newswire. April 8, 2009. Archived from the original on April 17, 2009. Retrieved April 8, 2009.
  3. ^ "PSP Go's Rock Band Unplugged demo plays DLC". August 27, 2009. Archived from the original on August 31, 2009. Retrieved October 7, 2009.
  4. ^ a b Cavalli, Earnest (April 8, 2009). "Rock Band Unplugged Hits PSP June 9". Wired. Retrieved April 8, 2009.
  5. ^ Webster, Andrew (April 1, 2009). "Partial Rock Band Unplugged track list revealed". Ars Technica. Archived from the original on April 3, 2009. Retrieved April 1, 2009.
  6. ^ Totilo, Stephan (February 24, 2009). "'LittleBigPlanet' PSP Announced, Plus Tons Of Other Major Titles". MTV. Archived from the original on February 25, 2009. Retrieved February 24, 2009.
  7. ^ a b "Rock Band Unplugged". Game Informer. May 2009. p. 73.
  8. ^ Bailey, Kat (December 1, 2009). "No More Rock Band Unplugged DLC For Now". 1UP.com. Retrieved December 1, 2009.
  9. ^ Klepek, Patrick (April 17, 2009). "Rock Band Unplugged Doesn't Interact With PS3". 1UP. Retrieved April 17, 2009.
  10. ^ Clements, Ryan (March 31, 2009). "Rock Band Unplugged Track List and More". IGN. Archived from the original on April 3, 2009. Retrieved March 31, 2009.
  11. ^ Johnson, Stephan (April 15, 2009). "Preview/Developer Walkthrough: 'Rock Band Unplugged'". G4TV. Archived from the original on January 24, 2013. Retrieved April 15, 2009.
  12. ^ McInnis, Shaun (April 15, 2009). "Rock Band UnpluggedHands-On - PSP Previews at GameSpot". GameSpot. Retrieved April 16, 2009.
  13. ^ Chester, Nick (May 4, 2009). "ESRB spills the beans on two more Rock Band Unplugged tracks". Destructoid. Archived from the original on May 7, 2009. Retrieved May 4, 2009.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Ransom-Wiley, James (May 15, 2009). "Rock Band Unplugged: Full track list & DLC revealed". Joystiq. Archived from the original on May 16, 2009. Retrieved May 15, 2009.
  15. ^ a b DLC Week of 11/17 - AFI 5 Pack & The Bangles & Them Crooked Vultures Archived November 16, 2009, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved May 27, 2010.
  16. ^ "Rock Band Unplugged for PSP". GameRankings. Archived from the original on June 7, 2012. Retrieved June 9, 2009.
  17. ^ "Rock Band Unplugged (psp: 2009)". Metacritic. Archived from the original on June 26, 2012. Retrieved June 9, 2009.
  18. ^ a b c d Haywald, Justin (June 10, 2009). "Rock Band Unplugged (PSP)". 1UP.com. Archived from the original on January 5, 2010. Retrieved June 11, 2009.
  19. ^ a b c d MacDonald, Keza (June 11, 2009). "Rock Band Unplugged". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on April 7, 2012. Retrieved June 11, 2009.
  20. ^ a b c Helgeson, Matt (June 9, 2009). "Rock Band Unplugged". Game Informer. Archived from the original on June 15, 2009. Retrieved June 9, 2009.
  21. ^ a b c d e Petit, Carolyn (June 9, 2009). "Rock Band Unplugged Review". GameSpot. Archived from the original on June 15, 2009. Retrieved June 10, 2009.
  22. ^ a b c d e f Miller, Greg (May 22, 2009). "Rock Band Unplugged Review". IGN. Archived from the original on July 18, 2012. Retrieved June 9, 2009.