Queen: Rock Tour is a mobile game that isn’t filled with nasty microtransactions, ads, “energy” timers, or make-believe currencies. Instead, it’s a fun rhythm game that replaces that crap with a ton of classic Queen songs.
Released earlier this week for Android and iOS, Queen: Rock Tour is a rhythm game in the same vein as Rock Band, Guitar Hero, and mobile series Tap Tap Revenge. Notes come flying down the screen on separate tracks; with careful timing, you keep the music rockin’ with a tap, flick, swipe, or hold over each note (depending on the symbol). You’ve played this kind of game before. When done right they can be a blast, and Queen: Rock Tour is done right.
As in two of my favorite rhythm games of all time, Rock Band Blitz and Amplitude, Queen: Rock Tour splits each song into discrete instruments, and if you fail to properly hit the notes for, say, the guitar section, then you lose the guitars. However, unlike in those games, you don’t choose which bits of the song to activate. Queen: Rock Tour automatically feeds you various-colored notes, with each color representing a bit of the song. So if you miss a random green vocal note between guitar strums, Freddie Mercury suddenly drops out until the next green note appears. This can turn classic Queen songs into strange, hollow-sounding tunes that will cause Queen fans to recoil in disgust. But it also serves as the perfect incentive to not screw up.
Playing songs earns records that you can use to unlock more songs. You’ll also score some gold, which you can use to buy new clothing and special moves for the band members. Speaking of whom, they look like LEGO Minifigs crossbred with Funko Pops, but are animated nicely and you’ll be too focused on all the notes flying down the screen to notice them too much. Especially when you play on harder difficulties, which get as hectic as you’d expect.
The two things Queen: Rock Tour is unexpectedly, refreshingly short of are microtransactions and ads. The game is free to download and you get two starter songs. If you want the whole game it’s a simple $3 purchase, after which you can unlock new songs or clothing items just through gameplay. After only a few hours I’ve unlocked almost all the songs and my Queen minifig guys are looking fabulous. I suspect that in a few more hours I’ll have nearly everything, but that’s a much more pleasing experience than in most mobile games I play, where I longingly scroll past items and gear I’ll never get because I don’t want to grind for weeks or spend money.
That all said, if you don’t like the classic rock of Queen, it should probably be obvious but this is not the game for you. If you do like Queen, well, this is the perfect game for you! The full version features 20 classic songs including some of their less popular fan favorites. (Fans of “Tie Your Mother Down” will be happy to find it here.) And as you progress, you’ll also unlock bits of Queen trivia, behind-the-scenes photos, and harder difficulties.
Queen: Rock Tour is a rare thing: a mobile game that doesn’t make me hate myself. I don’t have to skip dozens of ads or fork up more money every few days. I just sat on my couch and rocked out to Queen songs. In my head I looked cool as I slid my fingers around the screen, pulling off solos and drum fills. In reality, I looked like a dork. But that’s the ultimate sign a rhythm game is good: It can make you feel cool while doing something very uncool. Queen: Rock Tour succeeds at that. Now, give me Judas Priest: Rock Tour.