Kudos Rock Legend
Positech Games (aka Cliff Harris) specialises in sim games such as Democracy and the previously-reviewed Kudos. His latest album, er, game allows you to indulge your dreams of rock stardom—start out as a struggling band with no publicity or gigs, develop your musical style, write songs and claw your way up to playing the Enormo-dome, making TV appearances and hiring bodyguards to protect you from the hordes of screaming fans.
In Kudos Rock Legend, you start out on your own, and must audition musicians. Each musician has certain personality attributes, such as being articulate (makes you good at interviews), ambitious (makes you less likely to become tired) or destructive (makes you likely to break stuff, costing the band money). You must hire at least three other band members before you can write songs. From there, you need to have at least 6 songs before you can get gigs, and 10 before you can record a CD. Buying CDs and going to gigs will inspire you, making your songs better. You can also practice your musicianship by copying a sequence of notes on your keyboard—this will make your musicians more proficient, and likely to get a record deal. Once you've made enough money, you can also stock up on merchandise, upgrade your equipment and hire staff. As you build up your live experience, recordings and publicity, you'll get better options, such as interviews with newspapers and radio, offers of sponsorship and possibly a record deal!
Every once in a while you'll need to take a day off, or your musicians will get stressed out and quit the band. Fortunately, going to the bar during your day off allows you to both reduce stress and increase hype as you chat about your band and how awesome you are.
Analysis: This is a highly enjoyable sim, especially if you're a frustrated rock star like me. There are lots of fun little references for rock fans like the names of the musicians, such as Lars Halford. (Even Cliff's own name sounds like an amalgam of Cliff Burton and Steve Harris!) Spinal Tap fans will appreciate the ability to buy a styrofoam Stonehenge set. Your 'to do' list has classic rock quotes at the bottom of the page, such as David Lee Roth's "I used to have a drug problem. Now I make enough money."
I only have a couple of little quibbles. Firstly, when you open a musician's window to view their equipment and levels of motivation, tiredness etc, there is a button marked "Fire" if you want to get rid of them. Unfortunately, it's located at the bottom right where you would expect an "OK" button to be. I accidentally fired a couple of perfectly good musicians because of this.
A more serious quibble is that there's no high score table. There's no way to compare if I made more money with my sensitive folk-blues outfit or my operatic cock-rockers, or if my brave, non-selling-out no-record-deal DIY punkers were able to get close to the sales of my big mainstream AOR outfit. The game would be much more replayable with this feature.
Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed this game and highly recommend it. Plus, if you're a rock fan, why don't you check out the JayIsGames last.fm group?