Striking out against the inconvenience of lugging around a full-sized drum kit everywhere you go, Mad Catz has created the Rock Band Portable Drum Kit, which reduces the drum experience to it's bare essentials.
Part of their innovative line of official Rock Band peripherals that includes the dual-strumming Fender Bass and the microphone with 360 controls built-in, the Mad Catz Portable Drum Kit for the Xbox 360 aims to deliver a solid drumming experience in a packages tiny enough to stuff into your average shopping bag. Have they drummed up a solid addition to your Rock Band arsenal, or has Mad Catz missed a beat?
Portability, Duh: With it's four stackable drum platters, low-profile foot pedal, and ultra-thin control mechanism, the Mad Catz Portable Drum Kit certainly lives up to its name. You could lug the whole thing about in your standard Wal Mart bag. Even the drum sticks come apart for easy storage and transport. Portable mission accomplished.
They Just Feel Good: To my utter surprise, I found myself enjoying the feel of this portable kit much more than the standard Rock Band 1 or 2 drums. Placing the rubber heads on a solid surface manages to produce one of the quietest sets of drums you're likely to find, and the rubber-tipped drum sticks only add to the effect. As an added plus, the ability to position the drum heads wherever you like allows for players to come up with a configuration that suits their particular style of play.
My New Favourite Pedal: The drum pedal included in the portable set is wider than most, and built so there's much less space between the up and down positions. The design greatly reduced the ankle strain I usually get after a half-hour of drum work. Seriously considering replacing the regular drum pedal with this one.
Super-Responsive: While it might be a function of not being tied to a shaky plastic base, the Mad Catz Portable Drum Kit seems a great deal more responsive than the standard kit. I find myself missing notes I know I hit correctly much less with this set than I do the standard kit.
Space Requirements: The one area where the Mad Catz Portable Drum Kit gave me trouble was finding a place to put it. It's the same sort of issue you run into using a steering wheel controller. Not only do you have to find a rather expansive surface to hold the kit, you also have to make sure it's at the proper height to accommodate the foot pedal. Seeing as the set isn't wireless, you might want to plan ahead before carrying this over to a friend's house for a Rock Band jam-out session.
Mad Catz continues to deliver on its promise of enhanced quality and performance in their line of official Rock Band 2 accessories. While the Fender Bass might have been a relatively easy win for the company, the Rock Band Portable Drum Kit is a product I had my doubts about ever since I laid eyes on it. How could a series of free-standing drum heads translate into an experience on-par with a fully-realised plastic drum kit? Well drumming - at its most basic level - is all about hitting things with sticks. Mad Catz has just managed to provide very nice things to hit with rather lovely sticks, with the extra-added bonus of portability.
Not only is the Mad Catz Rock Band Portable Drum Kit an excellent portable alternative to lugging about a full drum kit, in some ways it even surpasses the original in terms of quality and playability.
The Mad Catz Portable Drum Kit was developed and manufactured by Mad Catz, released in North America on November 10 for the Xbox 360. Available early 2009 for the Nintendo Wii. Retails for US$49.99. Used drums for several hours at two different locations.
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