Miranda Veranda are having some problems at the moment. After a string of sell-out gigs frontman/songwriter/manager Shiloh Manners (that's me) stupidly spent a large chunk of the band's funds on merchandise. The splurge on t-shirts, sweatshirts, and posters left enough cash in the kitty to line-up a couple more dates (perfect opportunities for shifting the aforementioned souvenirs) but, crucially, not enough to rent a decent rehearsal space, or buy depressive bassist Ray the fancy MegaBass he'd been wanting for ages.
As the concerts loomed, Ray's mood plummeted like an apocryphal hotel TV. A tiring fly-posting excursion on D-Day minus 1 (Why-on-Earth didn't I give everyone that day off?) seemed to push him over the edge. Twenty minutes before we were due on stage he did a bunk. The gig and the one following it had to be scrubbed; we lost thousands. To get back into the black I was forced to lay-off our roadie (Ray got the boot too, of course) and sell our van, smoke machine, and fibreglass Stonehenge set. The things we'd worked so long and hard for were gone in an instant. Rock and roll: It's a shit business.
Actually it's pretty hard to do really atrociously in this warm, compulsive little music industry sim. Cliff Harris' titles tend to stress the journey rather than the destination and provide lots of opportunities for recovery and re-growth. In this one you've got five years to build a band and take them 'to the top'. There are no scenarios or difficulty levels, no lengthy tutorials or illogical concepts; basically, you just sit down and start playing. The immediacy is refreshing.
The game works a lot like its predecessor Kudos. Each day there's time for just one activity. At the start that might be 'hold an audition' or 'write a song'; later it could be 'make a record' or 'do a TV show'. While this system obviously isn't completely realistic (Unless you're Ozzy Osbourne, it doesn't take 16 hours to pop down the shops and buy a new plectrum) it is - like so many other elements of the design - extremely elegant. One of Kudos' weaknesses was that its actions were often little more than menu choices - you told your character to take a bath, go for a stroll, or read a book, and that was that - the decision would magically nudge some variables and a new day would dawn. In Rock Legend there's more depth. Let's say your inspiration level is high and you decide to pen a hit; after clicking the relevant tab you're presented with a selection of yellow Post-It notes each scrawled with a cluster of coloured quavers and crotchets (you can improve the choice by buying and listening to music, attending concerts, and peopling your group with inspirational characters). By arranging the bits of paper in dense, flowing sequences great ditties are produced.