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The internet's new favorite video game is about playing the trombone



That's the sound of New York Philharmonic principal trombonist Joe Alessi playing "Clair De Lune" on a beautiful Paris day. And this is the sound of our producer, Danny Hensel, playing Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in the new video game "Trombone Champ."


RASCOE: Hard to tell the difference, right? Not really. "Trombone Champ" is a new game taking the internet by storm. It's like "Guitar Hero" but with the trombone.


RASCOE: So how do you play? Press a key to play a note and use your mouse to slide up and down the scale. But why the trombone?

DAN VECCHITTO: The only reason is that I just thought it was funny. I hope that's not offensive to people who play the trombone.

RASCOE: Dan Vecchitto is the lead game designer at Holy Wow Studios. Vecchitto worked on the game for four years on nights and weekends. He wasn't expecting "Trombone Champ" to become so popular.

VECCHITTO: And I thought that maybe, like, real trombone players might find it interesting. I don't know. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I absolutely didn't expect the game itself to sell this much. But I still don't really understand why - like, why and how it has.

RASCOE: Videos of players performing badly are especially popular, like this rendition of the "William Tell Overture."


RASCOE: There's a real time critique in the game, too. Land an OK note - the expression meh pops up. Blow a stinker, and you get a nasty. Nail it, then lucky you - it's perfecto, plus top points. And how well does Dan Vecchitto score when he plays "Trombone Champ?"

VECCHITTO: I'm not bad at it, but there are people who are better. There are certain songs I cannot get the highest score on, and there are people online who've gotten the highest rank on all the songs, which is ridiculous. I don't know how they do it.

RASCOE: But Vecchitto says the difficulty is part of the fun.

VECCHITTO: The game is kind of unique in that it's designed for you not to do well. Like, all the humor comes from the fact that it's nearly impossible to do well, and it always sounds like a mess.

RASCOE: Meanwhile, our producer Danny Hensel is still trying to rise above the meh into the heights of perfecto.

(SOUNDBITE OF TROMBONE MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.
Danny Hensel
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