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Hands-on: Power Gig's AirStrike Drum


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Power Gig's AirStrike Drum is either a terrific idea with terrible execution ... or just a bad idea. Seven45's drum kit takes a very different approach from the game's defining pas-faux guitar. In fact, the team has done a complete 180, going as far away from a "realistic" approach as possible.

The name does a good job of explaining how this peripheral works. Instead of hitting a toy-like facsimile of a drum, you are "hitting" air. The Simon-esque drum pad is equipped with sensors that detect when the specially-designed drum sticks are swung above. It's certainly a novel idea, one that has some immediate benefits: without the need for replica cymbals, this device is incredibly small. For those struggling with plastic instrument clutter, this is a rather clever solution. (Bonus: The AirStrike is also compatible with current Rock Band and Guitar Hero games.) Another perk of the device: it's quiet. Your roommates won't be bothered by the loud sounds of plastic tapping.

While the AirStrike offers some improvements over previous drum peripherals, it's significantly more difficult to use. With a physical object to hit, it's easy to determine what's wrong. Here, as I kept on missing a string of notes, I couldn't help but wonder what was at fault: the game, the drums or me.

Gallery: Power Gig: Rise of the SixString | 7 Photos

While there is a flashing LED atop each of the drum pads, it's of little help compared to the physicality of hitting a real-life object. Attempting to look at both the screen and the drums at the same time, it was nearly impossible to know if I was simply hitting the pads too early/too late, if I was hitting the wrong area or if the drums weren't registering my hits.

Of course, as with all early-release hardware and software, things can improve for the better in the months leading to Power Gig's October release. It's a novel idea that definitely stands out from its competitors. However, in its current state, we're not interested in switching from our space-hogging, loud-sounding, and far more functional Rock Band drum kits.

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