Two of the biggest interactive music franchises face off against each other as they unleash their end-of-year offerings in North America, with both Lego Rock Band and Band Hero set to hit retailers on the same day, Tuesday, November 3.

The "band game" genre, though relatively new, has successfully combined the popular karaoke and guitar emulation games, and though normal console controllers can be used, the real appeal of the genre is the use of special instrument-shaped controllers -- guitars, electric basses, microphones and even drum kits are approximated. With each new release, rival companies Harmonix and RedOctane try to top each others' previous efforts.

Lego Rock Band is Harmonix's update to the Rock Band franchise, and comes hot on the heels of recent fan favorite Beatles Rock Band. With help from the team behind Lego Star Wars, Lego Batman, and Lego Indiana Jones, various stars of pop and rock history have received a brick-format makeover.

Harmonix appeals to newcomers by adding a new Super Easy mode and, whilst Lego Rock Band doesn't come with Lego-shaped guitars, it is compatible with previous Rock Band instruments and even current controllers from the Guitar Hero series. Instead of making new accessories, Harmonix have been concentrating on making sure songs from Rock Band 1 & 2 can be played in Lego Rock Band, and vice versa.

By contrast, RedOctane are issuing new instruments for Band Hero. The super bundle includes an improved drum kit accessory, increasing its all-age accessibility. Despite all these new advances in instrumentation design and build, Band Hero does of course retain compatibility with those previous Guitar Hero instruments.

The song list, colorful box-art style, and endorsement by teen celebrity and 2009 MTV award winner Taylor Swift shows RedOctane's interested in widening the game's audience. The song list has a more contemporary pop slant to it, and though there are a sprinkling of songs that stretch back to the 1970s and 1980s, the overall set is likely to have been put together with female teens in mind, especially given the success of karaoke games SingStar and Lips.

Band Hero and Lego Rock Band are available for purchase in North America from November 3 onwards. Band Hero is expected to retail for $39.99 to $69.99 according to console, or $199.99 for the instrument bundle; Lego Rock Band for $29.99 to $49.99.

Band Hero arrives in Europe on November 6 (€39.99 to €199.99). Lego Rock Band lands on November 27 (€39.99 to €59.99).