It is not a topic we’ve looked at before but in 1995, Bob Dylan saw his iconic status transcend the stage to the world of video games when an interactive CD-ROM was unveiled by Graphix Zone and Sony Music Entertainment. Based on Dylan’s career, players were introduced to a collection of photos and objects that, when clicked, revealed details about Dylan’s life, inspirations and music.
Boasting some never-before-released songs such as Dylan controversially performing House of the Rising Sun at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, the game, known as “Highway 61 Interactive”, remains a unique piece of pop culture history and a compelling pre-internet document of one of rock music’s most influential frontmen.
The combination of rock music and video games was not unique then and certainly isn’t now. Indeed, Harmonix’s Rock Band games, in which players use faux instruments to play riffs alongside popular rock songs including Dylan’s Tangled Up in Blue, have proven to be some of the biggest commercial hits of recent years. Elsewhere, we’ve seen that famous bands have slot machines too, with Guns N’ Roses, Megadeth and Jimi Hendrix joining decade specific releases like The Groovy Sixties and The Super Eighties for online casino players to enjoy.
What’s interesting about Highway 61 Interactive is that it presents a precursor to every rock band’s website today. It is, therefore, fittingly pioneering, much like the acclaimed musician’s work. But if you’re looking for something a little more exciting online, why not try the Guitar Hero-inspired flash game called Guitar Flash where you use the keys on your keyboard to play along with popular rock songs.
If you were inspired by playing Bob Dylan on Guitar Hero 5, which was released on all major consoles, you’ll enjoy the ease and simplicity of Guitar Flash which can, as the name suggests, be played from anywhere thanks to an internet connection and a flash-enabled browser.
For Dylan fans who want the opportunity to emulate their hero – well, sort of – you could give Rock Band Sim a try. This is another browser based online game that combines the rock n roll entertainment of Guitar Hero with the immersive nature of roleplay as you try to turn your band into the next big thing. Your job is to go from garage band to selling out arenas, writing songs and managing band politics along the way.
Elsewhere, you might also want to give Brutal Legend a go. It’s inspired by music that is significantly different from most of Dylan, although to a degree reminiscent of the Dylan and the Dead era and brings the power of the guitar to the world of video gaming by arming you with a magical six-string and navigating an environment that’s all about rock n roll. Featuring music from Motorhead, Megadeth, Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, Brutal Legend also boasts the voice-work from Tenacious D frontman and actor Jack Black. The online multiplayer version offers hours of fun.
We all know how inspirational music can be. Online you’ll find lots of entertaining games which have taken their cues from great artists like Dylan. From the delights of Guitar Hero to the immersive simulation of Rock Band Sim to the exciting slot machines bearing the name of rock n roll legends.