Amplitude & Your High Definition Television = Well, Shit

I was rooting through my PS2 games the other night looking for my copy of Gitaroo Man so I could play a few levels and ended up coming across Amplitude. I figured "Hey, what the hell, I haven't played this game in years... I bet Andie would find it interesting since it was kind of a precursor to Guitar Hero and Rock Band." and popped it in. Much to my surprise, I still had my save file on the memory card that happened to be in my PS2 at the time.

"So far, so good!" I thought. "This is gonna be a blast!"

And then, the lag hit. And here is where my true laziness comes in; or maybe not. Let me explain:

This game sucked up way too much of my time nearly a decade ago. It's a shame I'll most likely never play it again.

For the uninitiated, most of the games in the Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises (maybe all of them? I'm too lazy to check and I haven't played them much) have a setting that lets you compensate for the lag that is inherent in all HDTV's. Amplitude apparently came out before such a thing was thought to be needed, and the end result is a game that is unplayable on my television in my living room.

The best way I can think to describe the gameplay of Amplitude is to think of Guitar Hero without the guitar. You are in a space ship of sorts, and your job is to fly down tracks of music, playing notes along the way until you activate each track. You activate a track by playing every note in two consecutive bars correctly, after which the track will play automatically for a few measures so you can hop to the next track to activate it, and so on and so forth. You rack up bonuses by linking tracks together without any gaps in between activation, and on some songs you can have the entire song playing automatically, however briefly, based on your performance. Add in score multipliers, slow motion power ups, and the ability to freestyle on certain songs and you have absolute musical chaos. And it is lovely chaos!

You "play" the notes in the tracks by pressing the shoulder buttons in time with when the circles in front of your ship pass over them. Unfortunately for me, this means I have to play the notes a fraction of a second earlier than when they actually pass through the circles in front of my ship. I was able to get about halfway through one of the easier songs ("Cherry Lips" by Garbage) before I became disheartened and gave up.

I did a quick search online (i.e. the Amplitude forums at GameFAQs and a few Google searches that yielded nothing helpful) and found that, unfortunately, you really need an old CRT TV to play this game. I did read that if I were to hook up my PS2 to my HDTV without HD cables it would reduce the lag to as low as 17 ms, or one frame, but that would still be unacceptable on some of the more chaotic songs in the game.

I believe I have an old CRT TV in my attic that ended up there after the last move, but I'm not sure if I threw it out or not. Even if I do have one, rearranging my gaming setup to accommodate one game seems ludicrous to me. We have a Wii, Xbox 360, and PS2 all hooked into a switch box which attaches to our HDTV via component cables. Not the best nor most revolutionary setup in the world, but it makes it so all of my systems are connected in HD, and it's simple enough that the kids can switch systems if need be without fiddling with any wires. I'm not sure if I'd go so far as to call myself lazy for not wanting to deal with moving things around to play a rhythm game that's a decade old, but this is just an unfortunate situation in general since Amplitude is a quality game, and, more importantly, one I have a lot of fond memories of playing.

One interesting tidbit I found while researching this issue was that the online play for Amplitude was still able to be accessed until August 31, 2013 with a bit of trickery (the official SCEA servers went down on February 26, 2007 according to Wikipedia; the game can still be played on official servers in Europe, though). Apparently by changing some kind of settings on your network/PS2/router/something you could trick the game into "piggybacking" off of multiplayer servers for a SOCOM game. The exact details ade my brain hurt and I was too lazy to delve into it much, but it was fascinating to see that people still played this game online relatively recently (I had played local multiplayer, but never online). It appears that people host private servers nowadays, even though the game itself doesn't support anything but the official servers for online play. I find this all to be quite fascinating, especially since I never played any PS2 games online at all even though my PS2 has the network adapter attached.

Although it appears my days of playing Amplitude are over, I still have Gitaroo Man to enjoy (when I find it), and I can always pick up a copy of N20 somewhere (even though it's not a rhythm game) to get my psychedelic tunnel shooting fix.

I leave you with this video of someone playing "Super Sprode" on insane difficulty and totally destroying it. I didn't realize this song was on Rock Band until fairly recently, but Amplitude was the game that introduced me to it.


Proof That I Am Lazy, Three Years Later

Yeah, I really am that lazy, apparently. I'm still poor, still playing lots of classic games, and still pretty angry about the hobby in general. As of late I've been playing through the Sega Genesis version of Shadowrun and enjoying it more than I have in years. I'm also sporadically picking up and playing Final Fantasy X (I'm at the part where you have to dodge the lightning... ugh), and enjoying playing Tetris Party on the Wii with my lovely fiancee. I've gotten a different perspective on gaming thanks to having two preteen boys in the house; they pretty much only like to play Minecraft and first-person shooters on the Xbox 360 (we don't allow them to do multiplayer online -- we only let them do it locally). It's fascinating to me that they can play first person shooters with no problem, but they can't get past the first level of Super Mario Bros.

I hope to start updating with some kind of regularity even though I know no one will ever read this blog nor stumble upon it, if for no other reason than to just be writing something again.

That being said, I give my nearly three year absence a score of:


Five twirling L-blocks from Tetris that I found in a minute using Google Image search out of five